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Founded in 1996 by former Harvard professors Gary Orfield and Christopher Edley, Jr., the Civil Rights Project/Proyecto Derechos Civiles is now co-directed by Orfield and Patricia Gándara, professors at UCLA. Its mission is to create a new generation of research in social science and law, on the critical issues of civil rights and equal opportunity for racial and ethnic groups in the United States. It has commissioned more than 400 studies, published 14 books and issued numerous reports from authors at universities and research centers across the country. The U.S. Supreme Court, in its 2003 Grutter v. Bollinger decision upholding affirmative action, and in Justice Breyer’s dissent (joined by three other Justices) to its 2007 Parents Involved in Community Schools decision, cited the Civil Rights Project’s research.

The Civil Rights Project / Proyecto Derechos Civiles

There are 221 publications in this collection, published between 1983 and 2019.
Legal Briefs and Related Documents (15)

Amicus Curiae Brief in Comfort v. Lynn School Committe

The district court below correctly upheld the constitutionality of the Lynn School Committee’s Voluntary Plan for School Improvement and the Elimination of Racial Isolation.  In particular, the district court’s conclusion that promoting racial diversity and reducing racial isolation in the Lynn schools are compelling governmental interests is well supported by both the expert testimony introduced at trial and numerous research studies documenting the benefits of racially diverse student bodies and the harms of racially segregated learning environments.  Among the many benefits that accrue from student body diversity are increased academic achievement, greater educational and occupational aspirations, more cross-racial understanding, a stronger sense of civic engagement, and an increased desire to live and work in settings with members of multiple racial groups. Among the harms associated with racial isolation and segregated learning environments are adverse effects on school attendance and performance, stereotyping and racial hostility, decreased opportunities to learn from members of other racial groups, and poorer preparation to address interracial contexts as adults.  Research studies also support the district court’s conclusion that the Lynn Plan is narrowly tailored because of the necessity of employing race-conscious policies in attaining student bodies that can promote the benefits of racial diversity and prevent the harms of racial isolation.

Amicus Curiae Brief in Support of Louisvile School District

The District Court correctly upheld the constitutionality of the Jefferson County Board of Education’s student assignment plan (the “2001 Plan”).  The court’s conclusion that promoting racial diversity and reducing racial isolation in the Jefferson County public schools are compelling governmental interests is well supported by both the expert testimony introduced at trial and numerous research studies documenting the benefits of racially integrated student bodies and the harms of racially segregated learning environments.

Among the many benefits that accrue from racial diversity in the student body are increased academic achievement, greater educational and occupational aspirations and success, improved cross-racial understanding, a stronger sense of civic engagement, and an increased desire and ability to live and work in settings with members of multiple racial groups.  The school district and broader community also benefit from an increased ability to compete effectively with private schools, an improved racial climate, and greater community support and participation.

Among the harms associated with racial isolation and segregated learning environments are adverse effects on school attendance and performance, stereotyping and racial hostility, decreased opportunities to learn from members of other racial groups, and poorer preparation to address interracial contexts as adults.  The school district and community as a whole can suffer when schools are perceived as unrepresentative and racially segregated.

Research studies and evidence introduced in the court below also support the District Court’s conclusion that the 2001 Plan is narrowly tailored because of the necessity of employing race-conscious policies in attaining student bodies that can promote the benefits of racial diversity and prevent the harms of racial isolation, and because there is no undue harm to students who do not receive their school of choice.  The Jefferson Plan is flexible in its efforts to maintain a minority student presence at each school that is sufficient for successful integration, and differences in test scores between schools do not accurately reflect on the quality of education that a given student has received.   Differences in context also strongly suggest that the standards for narrow tailoring in higher education, especially the requirement for individualized review, should be reconsidered in the context of elementary and secondary education.

The judgment of the district court should be affirmed.

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K-12 Dropouts and Graduation Rates (20)

The National Dropout Data Collection System: Assessing Consistency

Unfortunately, while a great deal of time and resources are being devoted to measuring one educational outcome—the academic achievement of students in school— less is being devoted to measuring the complementary outcome—how many students complete high school.

Essential Components of High School Dropout Prevention Reforms

For the most troubled high schools, we argue in favor of a strict adherence to implementing a complete comprehensive reform model of the three key components—organization, instruction, and teacher support—where each component is established with no compromises that would weaken the self-contained Academy structure, the extended time and extra-help courses within a high standards curriculum, or the continuous support of teachers by expert inclass coaches for instructional innovations.

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Immigration (1)

Immigrants, Immigrant Policy, and Foundation of the Next Century's Latino Politics: The Declining Salience of the Civil Rights Agenda in an Era of High Immigration

The fundamental question that we ask in this paper is whether the public policy needs of immigrant Latinos can be understood as part of the civil rights agenda. Our tentative answer is that they are distinct. If this is the case, we indicate that the policy needs of immigrants will steadily eclipse the civil rights issues that have galvanized Latino elites and, to a lesser extent, Latinos as a whole from the 1960s to the present.

Article can also be found at http://civilrightsproject.ucla.edu

K-12 Integration and Diversity (65)

Segregation Again: North Carolina’s Transition from Leading Desegregation Then to Accepting Segregation Now

North Carolina has a storied history with school integration efforts spanning several decades. In response to the Brown decision, North Carolina’s strategy of delayed integration was more subtle than the overt defiance of other Southern states. Numerous North Carolina school districts were early leaders in employing strategies to integrate schools at a very modest level. When the l964 Civil Rights Act vastly expanded federal power, desegregation accelerated. In 1971, Charlotte-Mecklenburg gained national attention in the first Supreme Court decision mandating busing as a primary strategy to achieve school integration. By 2000, Wake County public schools became the first metropolitan school district to implement a class-based student assignment policy1, shifting from a race-based student assignment plan. Yet despite initiating school diversification efforts for a generation, currently North Carolina has reverted back to neighborhood schools while concurrently adopting policies that deemphasize diversity. Today, the state’s Latino enrollment, which has grown very rapidly in the post-civil rights era, adds another important dimension to the story. Since racial and economic segregation are strongly related to unequal opportunity, these changes likely have important educational consequences.

Equity Overlooked: Charter Schools and Civil Rights Policy

This report provides a much-needed overview of the origins of charter school policy; examines the failure of the Bush Administration to provide civil rights policies for charters; outlines state civil rights provisions; and highlights the lack of basic data in federal charter school statistics.

Also available at http://civilrightsproject.ucla.edu

62 more worksshow all
K-12 Immigration/Immigrant Students (3)
Metro and Regional Inequalities (24)

More than Money: The Spatial Mismatch Between Where Homeowners of Color in Metro Boston Can Afford to Live and Where They Actually Reside Part I

Few people argue that segregation is purely a result of market forces, or that it is due entirely to discrimination. Most recognize that the answer must lie somewhere in between. Policy efforts must focus on removing any remnants of discriminatory practices, and must also find ways to attract and retain populations of color in communities that are affordable to but devoid of households of color.

Also avaialble at http://civilrightsproject.ucla.edu

  • 1 supplemental PDF

Race, Place and Opportunity: Racial Change and Segregation in the Chicago Metropolitan Area: 1990-2000

The future of the Chicago area is inexorably linked to the well-being of its minority populations, most strongly in the cities and inner-suburbs, but increasingly throughout the region. While high levels of racial segregation continue to plague inner cities, recent trends raise the specter that this pattern may be duplicated in growing suburbs. Actions at all levels are needed to assure equal access to neighborhoods and educational opportunities and to facilitate stabilization of communities.

ASIAN AMERICANS IN METRO BOSTON:Growth, Diversity, and Complexity

Mindful of the potential of statistics to perpetuate myths and misunderstandings about Asian Americans, we are determined in this report to utilize data drawn from the 2000 U.S. Census to paint as accurately as possible a portrait of the often ignored and misrepresented Asian American community in Metro Boston. Our primary focus, consequently, is on description rather than on detailed analysis or even informed speculation. 

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K-12 Language Minority Students (12)

A Study of Arizona's Teachers of English Language Learners

Part 1 of the Arizona Educational Equity Project. Overall findings show that most of these Arizona teachers have a great deal of faith in their ELL students' ability to achieve at grade level but that the 4 hour ELD block to which they are assigned is not helping them to catch up with their English speaking peers.

Related Documents A Study of Arizona's Teachers of English Language Learners

Abstract:

In this study a representative sample of 880 elementary and secondary teachers currently teaching in 33 schools across the state of Arizona were asked about their perceptions of how their ELL students were faring under current instructional policies for ELL students. Teachers were surveyed during the Spring of 2010. Overall findings show that most of these Arizona teachers have a great deal of faith in their ELL students' ability to achieve at grade level but that the 4 hour ELD block to which they are assigned is not helping them to catch up with their English speaking peers academically and there is deep and overwhelming concern about the segregation they are experiencing as a result of this instructional model; 85% believe this separation from English speaking peers is harmful to their learning. Most also believe that the majority of their ELL students are not meeting grade level standards and more than half of teachers also note that their ELL students are stereotyped as slow learners by other students and that the 4 hour block program is harmful to their self-esteem. The study ends with a series of recommendations including that alternative modes of instruction need to be implemented to help ELL students to succeed academically.

Also available at http://civilrightsproject.ucla.edu

Implementing Structured English Immersion (SEI) in Arizona: Benefits, Costs, Challenges, and Opportunities

Part 2 of the Arizona Educational Equity Project. The ELD block has neglected core areas of academic content that are critical for ELL students' academic success and graduation; contributed to ELL students' isolation; limited ELL students opportunities for on-time high school graduation, potentially increasing drop out--and for college readiness; and assumed that English language learning can be accomplished for all ELL students within an unrealistic timeframe and under a set of unrealistic conditions.

Also available at http://civilrightsproject.ucla.edu

The Education of English Language Learners in Arizona: A Legacy of Persisting Achievement Gaps in a Restrictive Language Policy Climate

This report reviews achievement gaps in both reading and math between ELL and non-ELL students in Arizona over the post-Proposition 203 period 2005-2009 and during the first year of implementation of the 4 hour ELD block, 2008-09. The study finds that Arizona has made little to no progress in closing the achievement gap between ELL and non-ELL students during this period. It also compares achievement gaps in reading and math over the same period between Arizona and Utah and Washington DC, two educational entities with vastly different spending policies. Here, the study argues that, notwithstanding changes in tests and proficiency thresholds in the states over this period of time, the relative position of Arizona vis-a-vis these comparison entities remains very similar, with Arizona continuing to lag behind both in percent of ELL students achieving proficiency in reading and math. The study concludes that Arizona is on the wrong path for closing achievement gaps for its ELL students and that this is due, at least in part, to its highly restrictive language instruction policies.

Also available at http://civilrightsproject.ucla.edu

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K-12 NCLB/Title I (10)

Hard Work for Good Schools: Facts Not Fads in Title I Reform

Improving educational opportunity for millions of poor children has been the basic goal of the Title I program for a third of a century. Critics say that the effort is a failure and supporters say that there were major gains. This volume presents research by many of the nation’s top experts on how to gain more from the investment. The studies raise a set of issues that have been ignored in the current debate over Title I, and call into question some of the basic assumptions underlying the education reform efforts of the last two decades. This volume contributes real evidence about educational gains and underscores the civil rights implications in this legislation. Better results from Title I are possible but they will not happen without intelligent focus on the evidence of what actually works and without vigorous administration of the law.

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K-12 Racial Disparities in School Discipline (34)

Racial Disparities in School Suspension and Subsequent Outcomes: Evidence from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997

Using data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997, I examine the prevalence and intensity of suspension among nationally representative samples of white, black, and Hispanic youth attending secondary school during the late 1990s and follow their educational and criminal justice outcomes for roughly a decade after K-12. Consistent with prior research in individual states and districts, I find that suspension has become a common feature of the U.S. schooling experience, affecting more than one in three youth and resulting in substantial missed instructional time across K-12 (a total of one to two weeks for the typical suspendee). As with prior research, disparities by race and gender are large, with black boys suspended most frequently and most intensely: fully two in three are suspended at some point during K-12, and nearly one in five is suspended for a full month of school or more. Following youth into early adulthood, I find that suspension is highly correlated with negative educational and criminal justice outcomes in the longer term. Among boys suspended for 10 total days or more, less than half had obtained a high school diploma by their late 20s; more than three in four had been arrested; and more than one in three had been sentenced to confinement in a correctional facility. Comparing suspension to self- reported behavior – including property offenses and violent behaviors – reveals that substantial shares of suspended youth had not engaged in serious delinquency by the time they were first suspended from school. In addition, racial and ethnic gaps in suspension persist after these serious misbehaviors are controlled. In light of these findings, policymakers interested in improving educational outcomes for all youth, ensuring equity across racial and ethnic groups, and increasing public safety should promote alternatives to suspension, identify and support schools with high rates of exclusionary discipline, and fund evaluations of recent efforts to limit the use of suspension and reduce racial disparities in districts across the U.S.

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College Access (37)

Dismantling College Opportunity in California

These studies released today call attention to the fact that cuts to higher education impact students, their families, CSU faculty, and staff well beyond the classroom. Reduction in access, retention, and increase in cost are disproportionately impacting traditionally underrepresented students, and are being felt within their personal lives. Related Documents Dismantling College Opportunity in California

These three reports constitute Part Four of The CSU Crisis and California's Future:

Remediation as a Civil Rights Issue in the California State University System by Kimberly R. King, Suzanne Mcevoy, And Steve TeixeiraEconomic Crisis and the California State Public University: The Institutional, Professional and Personal Effects on Faculty and Students by David Boyns, Amy Denissen, And Alexandra GerbasiYou Will Have To Work Ten Times as Hard at the CSU: Reducing Outreach and Recruitment in Times of Economic Crisis by Rebecca Joseph With The Assistance Of Mario Castaneda

Also avaiable at http://civilrightsproject.ucla.edu

Reconfiguring Admissions to Serve the Mission of Selective Public Higher Education

On what bases should students be admitted to highly selective public colleges and universities? In Texas under Hopwood, and in California under Proposition 209, the answer is: "by the numbers." With lawsuits pending in Michigan and a state initiative underway in Washington, the same response may soon be heard more frequently. Given the uneven circumstances from which students’ grades and class rank arise, the most potent numbers in admissions are often those from high-stakes standardized, norm-referenced tests (HSSNRTs), such as the SAT, ACT, and LSAT. Proponents of this approach argue that consideration of candidates' race or ethnicity violate laws against discrimination on the basis of race. They also assert that when HSSNRT scores are emphasized, merit is placed at the center of admissions decisions (See e.g., Thernstrom & Thernstrom, 1997; D'Souza, 1991). This score-ranked conception of merit is readily conveyed and grasped: the higher the score, the more an applicant deserves to be admitted. Nevertheless this conception is erroneously narrow: HSSNRT scores reveal little about who will succeed in higher education; they say far less about who will succeed thereafter. Thus, this score-ranked conception does not clearly support selective higher education’s mission to achieve excellence in instruction, research, and service. Furthermore, when put into practice, this score-ranked conception yields devastating social consequences.

Available at: http://civilrightsproject.ucla.edu

Appearance and Reality in the Sunshine State: The Talented 20 Program in Florida

After a review of Florida state and institutional data and interviews with staff at five campuses of the Florida State University System and several Florida state agencies, this report describes the history, implementation, and effects of the Talented 20 Program. The report concludes that Talented 20 Plan is, in fact, not race-neutral and is not an effective alternative to race-conscious affirmative action.

Also available at: http://civilrightsproject.ucla.edu

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