Time’s Up for Legacy Preference
"CT could become first state to ban legacy admissions in higher education," exclaimed a CT Insider headline on Monday. According to the Alex Putterman story, both Senator Derek Slap—co-Chair of the legislature's Committee on Higher Education and Employment Advancement—and Senate Minority Leader Kevin Kelly are receptive to the idea. "‘In light of the Supreme Court decision last year banning race-conscious admissions, there's a lot of conversations about fairness in the admissions process,’” the article quotes Senator Slap as explaining. ‘Legacy admissions overwhelmingly favor white, affluent students, and I think that we can do better.’"
Legacy Preference is the admissions practice of giving a weighted advantage to college applicants with family members who are alumni. It perpetuates racial and socio-economic inequities by giving an advantage to students with multigenerational privilege. At least 30% of Connecticut's four-year colleges explicitly engage in the practice, according to a brief by our affiliate, Education Reform Now CT.
In 2022, the Higher Education Committee advanced a similar bill, although it was never called in the House. Perhaps it was ahead of its time! This past December, the US Department of Education issued a press release indicating that it would begin to publish federal data on the use of legacy in college admissions across the country. Learn more about the practice of legacy preference in Connecticut here.
CT a Model for Biden’s 2024 Education Agenda
Last Wednesday, Commissioner Charlene Russell-Tucker was featured at a White House event to launch the Biden administration’s 2024 Improving Student Achievement Agenda. Alongside US Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona and Neera Tanden, President Biden’s Domestic Policy Advisor—a panel of three governors and three state chiefs included:
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy;
Maryland Governor Wes Moore;
New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham;
CT Education Commissioner Charlene Russell-Tucker;
Washington, D.C. State Superintendent of Education Dr. Christina Grant; and
Alabama State Superintendent of Education Eric Mackey.
Together, they presented three strategies that the Biden administration says are critical to academic success for students: (1) addressing chronic absenteeism, (2) providing high-dosage tutoring, and (3) adopting expanded learning time. Connecticut was particularly highlighted for its national leadership on combating absenteeism through the Learner Engagement and Attendance Program (LEAP) program.
According to a White House press statement, the administration will encourage adoption of these three proven strategies nationwide. Education Week explains that the administration will advance this agenda through accountability metrics under the Every Student Succeeds Act, small grants, and technical assistance to states. According to Chalkbeat, the US Department of Education will also allow schools to seek federal permission to spend COVID relief funds on these efforts over the next two years.
"Recovery is not the goal," noted Secretary Cardona at the event. "Excellence for all students is the goal."
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