The Leadership Conference Education Task Force on the Next Secretary of Education

Charmaine Riley, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, [email protected]
Sandra Hernandez, Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, [email protected]
Phoebe Plagens, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, [email protected]
Olympia Feil, National Women’s Law Center, [email protected]


WASHINGTON — The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights’ Education Task Force issued the following joint statement on the qualifications needed in the next Secretary of Education:

“After Betsy DeVos’ harmful agenda of discrimination and exclusion, the country is in desperate need of a secretary who is not just committed to the mission of the U.S. Department of Education, but also has a demonstrated commitment to protecting students from discrimination; advancing racial, gender, and disability justice; working with historically marginalized students and families; and ensuring the nation’s students have equitable access to quality public educational opportunities. These are nonnegotiable, foundational qualifications for leading the department.

“There are deep educational injustices in this country, which have been further compounded by the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. Students face too many barriers based on their race, ethnicity, national origin, disability, sex (including sexual orientation, gender identity, parental status, and pregnancy and related medical conditions), first language, family income, and immigration status. The next secretary must have a track record of ensuring schools and campuses are safe, welcoming, and support the nurturing, growth, and development of all students. Education equity is the right of every student, is critical to our nation’s future, and must be the top priority of the Secretary of Education.”


The following organizations have endorsed this statement:

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Education Task Force Co-Chair
NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc., Education Task Force Co-Chair
National Women’s Law Center, Education Task Force Co-Chair
American Association for Access, Equity and Diversity
American Association of University Women (AAUW)
Americans United for Separation of Church and State
Augustus F. Hawkins Foundation
Autistic Self Advocacy Network
Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law
Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP)
Center for Public Representation
Center for Responsible Lending
Children’s Defense Fund
Committee for Children
Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates
Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund (DREDF)
Education Law Center-PA
Hindu American Foundation
Hispanic Federation
IDRA (Intercultural Development Research Association)
Lambda Legal
National Action Network
National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity (NAPE)
National Black Justice Coalition
National Center for Learning Disabilities
National Center for Lesbian Rights
National Center for Parent Leadership, Advocacy, and Community Empowerment (National PLACE)
National Center for Special Education in Charter Schools
National Consumer Law Center (on behalf of its low-income clients)
National Education Association
National LGBTQ Task Force
National Urban League
Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC)
Southern Poverty Law Center
The Arc of the United States

See recommendations for the Biden-Harris administration from across all Leadership Conference Task Forces regarding many consequential executive branch positions.

The Leadership Conference Education Task Force is a working group of the coalition that is dedicated to ensuring that all students are fully included in welcoming and responsive schools from early childhood through postsecondary education that prepare them for college, careers, life, and the full exercise of their civil and human rights.

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