Statement

Statement of Raymond C. Pierce, President and CEO, Southern Education Foundation, on President Biden’s Intention to Nominate Catherine Lhamon to Serve as Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education

Education Equity Leader Calls Lhamon “Precisely the Right Person at the Right Time” to Serve As Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights in Department of Education

MEDIA CONTACT:  Gretchen Wright, gwright@southerneducation.org, (202) 421-5830

May 13, 2021 (Atlanta, Georgia) —The Southern Education Foundation released the following statement from its President and CEO regarding President Joe Biden’s announcement that he will nominate Catherine Lhamon to serve as Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education:

Speaking not only as the President and CEO of the nation’s oldest civil rights and education equity organization, but also as a former Deputy Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, I know how important this office is to achieving the goal of ensuring that every student in the nation has access to a high-quality education.

With her career-long dedication to civil rights and education equity, Catherine Lhamon is precisely the right person at the right time to serve as Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights in the U.S. Department of Education.

When she served in this same role in the Obama administration, Lhamon helped the Department make great advances in how it addressed discrimination in education, including expanding the scope of investigations into reported racial discrimination. Under the Trump administration, many of those advances were rolled back. It is time for this nation to move forward toward equity again.

The opportunity gap for Black and Brown students, and other students of color in our nation is persistent, pervasive, and insidious. It must be bridged. Discrimination takes many forms, from underfunded schools to inequitable resource distribution to unfair school discipline practices to the funneling of public education dollars to private schools in the form of vouchers and tax credits. These practices are the shameful vestiges of the historical segregation and discrimination in the U.S. education system, and they must end.

It is time for our nation to once again move forward to achieve education equity. Catherine Lhamon will see that we do precisely that.

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Originally founded in 1867 to educate Black children and children from low-income families in the South, the Southern Education Foundation also has a long history of developing leaders in education and was a pivotal source of research and data to support legislation and litigation aimed at fighting inequity in education during the civil rights era. The organization today conducts leadership development, research, and advocacy to improve educational opportunities for low-income students and students of color and achieve educational equity in the Southern U.S. It is based in Atlanta, Georgia. Find out more at https://southerneducation.org