U.S. Department of Education: Promoting Educational Excellence for all Americans

Annual Report to Congress
Fiscal Year 1996
U.S. Department of Education
Office for Civil Rights


Although OCR is justifiably proud of its achievements, we would be remiss if we failed to emphasize the many challenges OCR faces.

First is the reality of discrimination. Despite the progress of the past decades, and despite federal, state and local efforts to eradicate barriers to equal educational opportunity, real and flagrant examples of intentional discrimination remind us that not every member of the education community can be counted on to act in good faith. In dramatically more cases, adequate education and assistance have not reached those who may be ignorant of the civil rights laws and the terrible consequences for students and the country alike when equal access to educational opportunity is denied.

Second is the increasing gap between the work of the Office and the resources available to carry out our vital mission. Each decade since 1964 has brought additional responsibilities to the Office for Civil Rights. More recent budget pressures at the federal, state and local level make it perhaps more difficult for schools, colleges and universities to confront the problems of equal educational opportunity. So while OCR loses staff -- its most vital resource -- its workload continues to grow. This is shown on the table below.

(FY 1990 - FY 1997)

Compliance Reviews
1990 $45,178,000 $44,572,000 820 815 3,384 3,130 32 30
1991 $49,900,000 $48,404,000 820 797 3,809 3,497 41 22
1992 $56,000,000 $53,625,000 855 848 4,432 4,180 77 50
1993 $61,400,000 $56,402,000 858 854 5,090 4,484 101 82
1994 $56,570,000 $56,570,000 851 821 5,302 5,751 144 90
1995 $61,457,000 $58,236,000 833 788 4,981 5,559 96 178
1996 $62,784,000 $55,277,000 763 745 4,828 4,886 146 173
1997 $60,000,000 $54,900,000 724 -- -- -- -- --

*FY 1990 and FY 1995 Appropriation after sequestration; FY 1997 Appropriation after recision OCR's budget has dropped from a high of $58,236,000 in FY 1995 to $55,277,000 in FY 1996 and only $54,900,000 in FY 1997.

Adequate investment is required to provide funding for OCR's staff and non-personnel needs. These include costs of prosecuting cases, development of strong, educationally sound remedies, staff improvement, legal research, publications and outreach, and the national civil rights surveys postponed in FY 1996 because of lack of funding level under the continuing resolutions. The President has proposed a budget for OCR in FY 1998 of $61,500,000. This is less than a dollar per year for each of America's students. An end to illegal discrimination in the nation's schools and colleges deserves no less.

"I believe the most important thing you can do is to have high expectations for students -- to make them believe they can learn, to tell them they're going to have to learn really difficult, challenging things, to assess whether they're learning or not, and to hold them accountable as well as to reward them. ... Once you have high standards and high expectations, there is an unlimited number of things that can be done."
President Clinton
National Education Summit
March 27, 1996

"While I rode in the back seat on the bus of opportunity during my lifetime, I want my daughter's daughter and her peers to be able to select a seat based on their abilities and their willingness to work. Don't deny them the things I dreamed of, don't deny them the opportunities that are and should be their birth right."
Joan Martin, parent and Senior Associate
Director of Athletics, Monmouth University

Released: May 1997

| Responsibilities of the Office for Civil Rights | The Laws Apply to Educational Institutions | The Laws Apply to Students and Employees | OCR Responds to Discrimination Complaints from the Public | How OCR Resolves Complaints | OCR Conducts Compliance Reviews | OCR's Technical Assistance Helps People and Institutions | Impact of the Civil Rights Laws | Contacting OCR | Challenges |


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This page last updated on 12/28/00 (sbd)