UnidosUS and the National Urban League Oppose Nomination of Kenneth Marcus to Lead U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights

WASHINGTON, DC—UnidosUS (formerly NCLR) and the National Urban League joined today in opposing the nomination of Kenneth L. Marcus as the next Assistant Secretary for the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at the U.S. Department of Education. The groups noted his troubling record with regard to enforcing the rights of immigrant students and English learners, and past attempts to undermine critical policies aimed at remedying racial discrimination, including affirmative action.

Marcus’s nomination had been met with opposition from a broad range of civil rights groups who have raised concerns about the nominee’s hostility to affirmative action and other equal opportunity initiatives. Marcus did nothing to assuage those concerns during a recent nomination hearing where he failed to commit his office to enforcing the law on a number of civil rights issues in which the OCR has played a pivotal enforcement role in the past.

“The Office of Civil Rights at the Department of Education plays a critical role in safeguarding the civil rights of all of our students. We need someone at the helm of this division who will follow the rule of law and honor the historic part OCR has played in enforcing our most cherished civil rights laws. At the very least, the head of OCR should not skirt the profound responsibility of the position and should have a strong commitment to ensure our classrooms promote equality and fairness. As such, we do not believe that Mr. Marcus has the qualifications, experience, and commitment necessary for this important post, and his performance at his recent Senate nomination hearing cemented that belief,” said UnidosUS President and CEO Janet Murguía.

“The National Urban League cannot in good conscience support the nomination of Mr. Kenneth Marcus. Mr. Marcus has a demonstrated history of hostility toward affirmative action and all race-based remedies to discrimination. He lacks a commitment to enforcing civil rights protections for students of color, and does not believe in disparate-impact or unintentional discrimination. All of which makes him unfit to lead ED’s civil rights division. America’s children both require and deserve an assistant secretary for civil rights who believes it is their birthright to receive a great, equitable public education,” said Marc H. Morial, President and CEO of the National Urban League.