ED Updates Equity Action Plan

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The U.S. Department of Education (ED) recently unveiled its 2023 Update to the Equity Action Plan, aligning with the Biden-Harris administration’s overarching equity agenda. The initiative stems from a 2023 executive order from President Biden, which aims to expand racial equity throughout the federal government.

As part of the update, the department seeks to bolster access to higher education for underserved groups, focusing on students of color, those from low-income backgrounds, and non-native English learners. The goals include increasing both enrollment and graduation rates from within these communities in an effort to boost economic mobility. 

To this end, the department also looks to increase opportunities for postsecondary education for incarcerated and justice-impacted individuals. In addition to supporting equity in education, participation in these opportunities has been shown to lower recidivism rates and increase preparedness for the workforce upon release.

Beyond higher education, ED will implement equity requirements that ensure school districts are supporting underserved populations through available federal funds, most notably $122 billion in American Rescue Plan funds for Title I Schools. The department is also further investing in career and technical education (CTE) programs in high schools, which can create pathways to well-paying jobs and economic mobility. As part of this investment, ED will also work to reduce race-, ethnic-, and gender-based segregation in CTE programs.

Through the plan, the department helps address the youth mental health crisis, especially among marginalized communities, by increasing funding to support school health services, providing training opportunities for existing school personnel, and expanding the number of mental health professionals in school.