Congress Must Protect Equal Educational Opportunity During COVID-19 and Beyond

52 civil rights and education groups call for immediate and comprehensive action

Contact: Charmaine Riley, [email protected], 202.548.7166

WASHINGTON – The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, along with 51 civil rights and education organizations, today called on Congress to take immediate and comprehensive action to protect equal educational opportunity during the COVID-19 public health crisis.

In a letter sent to Speaker Pelosi, Majority Leader McConnell, Minority Leader McCarthy, and Minority Leader Schumer, the groups ask that in order to minimize harm to marginalized students during this national crisis, Congress must immediately:

  • Ensure federal funds are not used to discriminate
  • Preserve civil rights protections and halt unrelated rulemaking
  • Ensure funds are targeted to marginalized students
  • Ensure oversight of federal funding
  • Ensure marginalized students have access to distance learning
  • Ensure equal educational opportunity for students with disabilities, English learners, students experiencing homelessness, and migrant youth
  • Ensure students have access to nutritional supports
  • Ensure educators and other school staff are safe and protected
  • Ensure parents’ and guardians’ civil rights are protected and they have the information they need
  • Protect the health, well-being, and education of children in secure and congregate settings
  • Cancel student loan debt
  • Maintain access to supports for college students

“Without a doubt, COVID-19 will have lasting effects for many decades to come. There is an opportunity and a responsibility to minimize the harm to the next generation,” the groups wrote.

Long term closures of early childhood settings, K12 schools, and college campuses, which are necessary to protect the safety and health of communities, have significantly exacerbated longstanding inequities in our educational system. Leadership and action from Congress can, and must, minimize the harm to marginalized students as long as COVID-19 continues to threaten the public health.

The full letter is available here, and the participating organizations are listed below:

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
Alianza Nacional de Campesinas
American Association of University Women (AAUW)
American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC)
Arab American Institute (AAI)
Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, AFL-CIO
Association of University Centers on Disabilities
Augustus F. Hawkins Foundation
Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law
Campesinos Sin Fronteras
Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP)
Center for Responsible Lending
Children’s Defense Fund
Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund (DREDF)
Equal Justice Society
Equality California
Farmworker Association of Florida
Girls Inc.
Hispanic Federation
Human Rights Campaign
Japanese American Citizens League
Justice for Migrant Women
Learning Policy Institute
Matthew Shepard Foundation
Multicultural Efforts to end Sexual Assault (MESA)
Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC)
National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity (NAPE)
National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities
National Center for Learning Disabilities
National Center for Special Education in Charter Schools
National Center for Transgender Equality
National Center for Youth Law
National Consumer Law Center (on behalf of its low-income clients)
National Council of Asian Pacific Americans
National Council of Jewish Women
National Disability Rights Network
National Fair Housing Alliance
National Indian Education Association
National Organization for Women
National Urban League
National Women’s Law Center
OCA-Asian Pacific American Advocates
People For the American Way
Poverty & Race Research Action Council
Silver State Equality-Nevada
SPLC Action Fund
The Arc of the United States
The Education Trust

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights is a coalition charged by its diverse membership of more than 220 national organizations to promote and protect the rights of all persons in the United States. The Leadership Conference works toward an America as good as its ideals. For more information on The Leadership Conference and its member organizations, visit