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

Annual Report to Congress Fiscal Year 1998

Message from the Assistant Secretary

In fiscal year 1998, the Office for Civil Rights continued its civil rights enforcement program in a collaborative style. Our even-handed approach is people-intensive. For example, we build relationships with school districts, colleges and community groups to resolve cases amicably, and to ensure that remedies are fully implemented. These efforts require a highly trained staff who are both dedicated and motivated.

At the beginning of the civil rights movement of the 1960s and during the early days of this agency, we focused on school districts and colleges that were operating flagrantly discriminatory education systems. Contemporary equity issues are more complex and subtle. In addition to these complicated issues, we also must harmonize enforcement with high standards in education. We must guarantee equal access not only to basic, high-quality education but to programs for gifted and talented students. We seek both parity and excellence: for without both, there can be no true equity.

Our job is far from over. For example, too few black men are entering and graduating from college. The needs of many English-learning students are not being met. Women athletes are not receiving an equitable share of scholarships. The high-school drop-out rate for Latino students is higher than it ever has been. Disabled students are too often denied the most basic services they need to learn. In short, our workload is as heavy as ever.

In fiscal year 1998, our work positively changed the lives of a greater number of students than we ever have done before. Our continued goal is to serve more children and adult learners through our partnerships with educators, and parent and community groups.

We ask you to join us in the commitment to guarantee equal access to high-standards education.

Respectfully submitted,

signature of Norma Cantu

Norma V. Cantú

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