AFT Statement on Leadership Conference’s Civil Rights Principles for Higher Education Act Re-authorization


WASHINGTON— Today, the AFT joined the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and 46 other organizations in identifying critical civil rights principles they recommend for inclusion in any reauthorization of the Higher Education Act.

In the principles, the groups highlight the role the landmark legislation has played in providing greater opportunity for low-income people, people of color, women, people with disabilities, LGBTQ people and immigrants to go to college.

“Any reauthorization of the Higher Education Act must make it easier for every person in this country to pursue higher education successfully, regardless of where they grew up, the color of their skin, their religion or their immigration status. Congress has a responsibility to ensure that everyone who wants to go to college can go to one that will support them,” said Randi Weingarten, president of the AFT.

The principles state that any reauthorization must:

  1. Invest in and support institutions that serve high populations of traditionally underrepresented students, including HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities), HSIs (Hispanic-Serving Institutions), PBIs (Predominantly Black Institutions), TCUs (Tribal Colleges and Universities), ANNHIs (Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian-Serving Institutions), NASNTIs (Native American-Serving Nontribal Institutions) and AANAPISIs (Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institutions).
  2. Ensure robust implementation and enforcement of civil rights laws.
  3. Remove barriers to enrollment and promote meaningful access.
  4. Increase student persistence in and completion of a quality, racially equitable postsecondary education.
  5. Make college affordable for low-income students.
  6. Provide for the collection and reporting of higher education data.
  7. Design accountability systems to ensure students receive value from their higher education, and not in a way that limits opportunity.
  8. Exclude for-profit colleges from federal financial aid programs unless they have demonstrated their value to students.
  9. Protect student loan borrowers.
  10. Ensure safe and inclusive campus climates.

The full civil rights principles can be read here, and a full list of signatories can be found here.

Follow AFT President Randi Weingarten:

The American Federation of Teachers is a union of 1.7 million professionals that champions fairness; democracy; economic opportunity; and high-quality public education, healthcare and public services for our students, their families and our communities. We are committed to advancing these principles through community engagement, organizing, collective bargaining and political activism, and especially through the work our members do.


Randi Weingarten

Lorretta Johnson

Mary Cathryn Ricker

American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO

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