On June 21, the Department of Education (DoE) announced a number of revisions to its Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC) school survey. The CRDC is the largest, most important, and most comprehensive data collection instrument of its kind. It requires schools and school districts to provide data on a wide range of relevant education issues. The DoE proposed that CRDC add sexual orientation and religion to their existing effort to collect data on bullying and harassment on the basis of race, sex, and disability.
Accompanying resources for the DoE announcement stated:Safe environments are critical to learning. Since the 2009, the CRDC has provided a lens on school climate and the bullying and harassment that students too often endure on the basis of race, sex, and disability….
ADL coordinated a letter from 49 national organizations providing comments relating to these proposed CRDC revisions. In our comments, ADL and its coalition of education, religious, civil rights and professional organizations supported DoE’s decision to expand the CRDC to include reports of bullying and harassment based on sexual orientation and religion, and encouraged the collection of data on incidents based on gender identity. We argued that though the impact of bullying has been well documented, there is insufficient data on the nature and magnitude of bullying directed at individuals on the basis of their sexual orientation – and even less on religion-based and gender identity-based bullying.
ADL and its allies also urged the Department to reconsider their proposal to eliminate questions relating to whether a school has adopted written bullying prevention policies. An essential starting point for effective response to bullying and harassment in schools is the adoption of a comprehensive, inclusive bullying and harassment prevention policy. The inclusion of questions relating to whether an education unit has such a policy, the coalition argued, elevates awareness of the value of these policies and demonstrates that having such policies is important and significant enough to highlight in the CRDC. The coalition letter also urged the Department of Education to ask the education units that have adopted a bullying and harassment prevention policy to provide a link to their policy as part of their CRDC response.
A top priority for the Anti-Defamation League is working to create safe, inclusive schools and communities and ensuring that all students have access to equal educational opportunities. Over the past decade, the League has emerged as a principal national resource developing education and advocacy tools to prevent prejudice and bigotry. ADL has built on award-winning anti-bias education and training initiatives, including the A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE® Institute, to craft innovative programming and advocacy to address bullying and its pernicious electronic form known as cyberbullying. ADL takes a holistic approach to addressing bullying and cyberbullying, tracking the nature and magnitude of the problem, developing education and training programs, and advocating — at the state and federal level — for policies and programs that can make a difference.
It will be incumbent on ADL and our allies to work with schools and school districts to make sure schools and school districts are reporting this data accurately – and using the data to improve the climate for learning for all students.