Head Start program and Civil rights
Posted: 27 May 2005 07:14 PM   [ Ignore ]  
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From the AU:  (Americans United for Seperation of Church and State)

BACKGROUND:

Congressman Boehner plans to introduce an amendment on the House floor to roll back long-standing critical civil rights protections. The critical long-standing nondiscrimination provisions have been included in Head Start legislation since 1981. This is a fundamental civil rights protection against employment discrimination for Head Start teachers and volunteers. While this bill has the potential to gain broad support from both parties and amongst religious, civil rights, labor, education, health, and advocacy organizations, that broad support will evaporate if there is any threat to remove the long-standing critical civil rights protections in Head Start.

Religious organizations participating in the Head Start program make an invaluable contribution to the education of thousands of students.  These religious organizations have complied with Head Start's existing civil rights requirements.  However, if the repeal of the existing civil rights protection were to become law, teachers or parent volunteers working in any Head Start program run by a religious organization could immediately lose their jobs because of their religion.  Students participating in Head Start therefore could lose not only their teachers, but also the close programmatic connection with their own parents volunteering in the program.  Allowing discrimination based on religion would significantly impede the important goals of Head Start, sending a damaging message to Head Start students, and harming their education by separating students from their own teachers and parent volunteers.


TAKE ACTION:

Urge your Congressperson to maintain the bipartisan direction of the School Readiness Act (H.R. 2123) and reject any assault on civil rights protections in federally funded programs, especially a program as critical as Head Start.  This would destroy that bipartisanship nature of a program in which the education of young children is so dependent on parent participation and on ongoing, close relationships with Head Start teachers.


SUGGESTED MESSAGE:

As your constituent, I urge you to oppose any attempts to roll back civil rights protections in the new Head Start bill. Furthermore, I strongly urge you to oppose the final passage of any legislation that contains these civil rights rollbacks.

Allowing discrimination based on religion would significantly impede the important goals of Head Start, sending a damaging message to Head Start students, and harming their education by separating students from their own teachers and parent volunteers. Head Start is one of our country's most successful programs, and I do not want to ruin it by adding legislation to encourage religious discrimination.

Again, I urge you to oppose any attempts by Rep. Boehner to roll back civil rights protections in the new Head Start bill. I also urge you to oppose the final passage of any legislation that contains these civil rights rollbacks. This is an extremely important issue and one I will be following closely.

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