Duncan to Walk Pettus Bridge, Vows Civil Rights Reform in Schools

Education secretary Arne Duncan honors Bloody Sunday while looking to the future.

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Education Secretary Arne Duncan to deliver speak on education reform after crossing the Edmund Pettus bridge in honor of the 45th anniversary "Bloody Sunday", where hundreds of activists were beaten by Alabama state troopers during a voting rights march. Duncan's focus will be on civil rights in education

The federal Department of Education plans to intensify its civil rights enforcement efforts in schools around the country, including a deeper look at issues ranging from programs for immigrant students learning English to equal access to a college preparatory courses.

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"For us, this is very much about working to meet the president's goal, that by 2020 we will regain our status in the world as the number one producer of college graduates," Russlynn Ali, assistant secretary for civil rights in the Education Department, told The Associated Press.

The department is expecting to conduct 38 compliance reviews around 40 different issues this year, she said.

Though the investigations have been conducted before, the department's Office of Civil Rights is looking to do more complicated and broad reviews that will look not just at whether procedures are in place, but at the impact district practices have on students of one race or another, and if student needs are being met.

"We are about helping kids get a good education, and the education they deserve," Ali said.

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