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

Office for Civil Rights Annual Report to Congress (1999)

Looking Toward the Future

Image of a Graduation CeremonyBoth efficiency and effectiveness are critical to our work-efficiency because a student who is denied equal access to educational opportunity needs quick relief -effectiveness because it is essential that educational excellence and equity are combined in the resolution of civil rights issues.

While building the capacity to share expertise that can prevent discrimination, OCR needs the resources to fully implement its programs. Without adequate staff and sufficient technology, OCR will be unable to effectively assist the educational system in meeting the needs of students in the twenty-first century.

While OCR is proud of its past effectiveness and efficiencies, we are prouder still of our increasing ability to provide services that enable stakeholders to address the complex civil rights issues at hand. We know, however, that the need is greater than what is reflected in complaints simply because the populations of students most affected by educational inequities are often least aware of their civil rights. Having enough staff to not only resolve complaints, but also to conduct reviews in school districts and states, maximizes OCR's ability to positively affect the lives of students. Having enough staff to educate parents about their civil rights and to nurture partnerships between parents and schools ensures that students continue to have equal access to educational opportunity long after OCR's involvement ends.

OCR delivers services to customers that help prevent, as well as resolve, discriminatory educational practices by using well-trained staff to bring educationally sound, legally appropriate, and workable solutions to bear on complex civil rights issues. By using technology effectively, OCR puts information directly in the hands of students, parents, and recipients of federal funds so that they can resolve civil rights issues locally.

OCR has gained the reputation as a federal agency willing to listen to educators, collaborate with customers, and link stakeholders with similar interests to resolve complex equity issues. In the 21st century, we must continue to effectively meet the needs of a more diverse and technologically advanced society to ensure quality education for all students.

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