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PRRAC Update October 13, 2011

Welcome to the PRRAC Update! Every other Thursday, PRRAC sends out a brief digest of news, recent publications, and other points of interest related to our work in housing, education, and health. We welcome feedback and encourage you to forward to others. To join the PRRAC email list, click here.

ESEA Draft Released: On Tuesday, U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, the Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, released a draft reauthorization proposal of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. The bill removes much of the accountability structure ("AYP") in the most recent version of the law (known as "No Child Left Behind"). The bill also focuses on moving states to new "college and career ready" standards and implementing new teacher evaluation systems. You can read the draft here.

PRRAC advocated for several items that are included in the bill: closing of the "comparability loophole," the addition of magnet schools as a turnaround strategy for low performing schools, and the expansion of uses of funds for voluntary choice programs. We will continue to work with fellow civil rights advocates to ensure that the bill provides increased attention to the needs of low-income and minority students. Stay tuned as the bill works its way through mark-up next week.

Opportunity and Location in the Low Income Housing Tax Credit Program: The Treasury Department administers the largest low income housing production program in the country, but it has managed to avoid, for more than two decades, civil rights standards for project location, affirmative fair housing marketing, Section 8 voucher access, and other basic fair housing compliance issues. PRRAC has been working to change this - and we hope that our new report on siting standards in the LIHTC program (produced along with the Kirwan Institute and the Opportunity Agenda) will help to inform the policy development process currently underway at the White House. Read the report here.

Occupy Wall Street: A New Wave of Fair Housing Activism? Commentary in the Huffington Post from PRRAC Director of Research Chester Hartman and Professor Greg Squires (from PRRAC's Social Science Advisory Board)

Release your inner activist: The American Jobs Act failed to make it through the Senate this week, but the administration's jobs effort is still alive in a series of separate bills - especially one we'd like to highlight called "Project Rebuild," a bill that would expand on the Neighborhood Stabilization Program and create up to 200,000 jobs in the process of restoring homes and neighborhoods hardest hit by the foreclosure crisis. Please take five minutes to contact your Congresspeople (especially those who may have voted against the American Jobs Act) and urge them to support this bill - also spread the word among your colleagues to support this important bill. For more info on the different pieces of the Jobs Act, go to www.whitehouse.gov/jobsact.

Other Resources

Report notes large racial disparities in school discipline: A new report from the "Initiative on diversity, equity and learning" at the National Education Policy Center documents nationwide racial disparities in the rates of school disciplinary actions - and some of the consequences of these disparities. The report was prepared by Daniel J. Losen of the UCLA Civil Rights Project.

An advocacy agenda for the foreclosure crisis: The National Community Reinvestment Coalition, with support from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, has prepared an excellent White Paper setting out an advocacy agenda in response to the foreclosure crisis.

National Congress of American Indians: 68th Annual Convention, October 30 - November 4, 2011, Portland, OR.

Last chance to register: "Can We Achieve Diversity and Stability in Gentrifying Neighborhoods?" A panel discussion featuring Sheryll Cashin, Betsy Julian, Ingrid Ellen, and Robert Damewood. At the Housing Justice Network Conference, Monday, October 17, 2011 at 2:00 pm. There is no charge to attend this panel discussion, as long as you RSVP to PRRAC. At the Washington Court Hotel, 525 NJ Ave NW.

Philip Tegeler
Saba Bireda
Poverty & Race Research Action Council
Washington, DC

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