Friday, June 10, 2016

Giving Students a Second Chance

The Atlantic
By Juleyka Lantigua-Williams
June 10, 2016

The White House and Department of Education plan to ask American colleges and universities to reconsider using a person’s criminal history as part of the admissions process, opening access to higher education for millions. The announcement will be made on Friday, following a meeting with presidents, deans, provosts and other representatives from institutions who have already taken the Fair Chance Education Pledge, as the initiative is called.

“This is about persuading institutions to do the right thing with respect to how they admit their students,” Secretary of Education John King said. “This effort is about removing arbitrary obstacles.” The initiative follows an Atlantic report in April on how admissions procedures targeting students with criminal histories can constrict educational opportunity.

“Our goal here is to ensure that when people are released they have an opportunity to live a law-abiding life, that they have all the tools they need in order to thrive once they are released,” said Valerie Jarrett, senior adviser to the president. In one survey, 35 percent of the institutions of higher-education that responded said they had denied applicants based on their criminal history.

King anticipates that the pledge, if implemented with some dexterity, would especially impact people of color. “We know that African American and Latino young people and adults are overrepresented in our prison population and among folks who have criminal records. I think this will help those who have a criminal record have an opportunity to access higher education.”

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