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Cardona Doubles Down on Equity Pursuits on One-Year Anniversary of Affirmative Action Ruling

U.S. Secretary of Education Dr. Miguel A. Cardona said he is encouraged by the response of many institutions in the year since the U.S. Supreme Court’s June 29, 2023, ruling on affirmative action in higher education.

The court’s 6-3 decision in Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. v. President and Fellows of Harvard College curtails the use of affirmative action in college admissions. The majority opinion found that the admissions programs used by the University of North Carolina and Harvard College violated the U.S. Constitution’s equal protection clause, which bars racial discrimination by government entities.

Dr. Miguel CardonaDr. Miguel CardonaCardona said the decision reversed course on decades of precedent and sharply limited a vital tool that colleges used to create vibrant, diverse campus communities and expand access to higher education for students of color, who often face inequities in our education system.

“The decision was a blow to the fight for equal opportunity and a more just, equitable country,” said Cardona. “The Biden-Harris Administration is not backing down on its commitment to educational opportunity for all Americans.”

“Over the past year, I’ve been encouraged to see many colleges take concrete action to preserve educational diversity and equity in their recruitment and admissions practices — as well as their efforts to promote inclusivity and supportive campus cultures.”

Following the court’s ruling, the U.S. Department of Education released guidance, from which many schools revised their admissions strategies to place student achievement in the context of adversity and resilience.

Cardona said some schools launched targeted recruitment programs, while others increased affordability through need-based aid and simplifying student aid processes.

“We also know the critical role K-12 plays in providing rigorous and engaging pathways to postsecondary education and the importance of strong partnerships between higher education and K-12 in increasing access to postsecondary education for students of color,” said Cardona.

“The Department applauds these efforts,” he continued. “I look forward to our continued work together to intentionally better support students of color and erase unacceptable disparities and inequities in higher education. The fight for a more inclusive system goes on. Together, we will continue to raise the bar for all our nation’s students.”

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