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Amicus Curiae Brief in Hancock v. Driscoll

Authors: Daniel Losen, The Civil Rights Project
Date Published: August 26, 2004

In August 2004, The Civil Rights Project filed an amicus brief in support of the Hancock plaintiffs against the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The brief highlighted our research depicting the confluence of racial isolation and high poverty in Massachusetts. We argued that under the Massachusetts constitution far too many students in high poverty districts, and especially minority students, are receiving an inadequate education.
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From the Brief:

This brief will focus on the racial disparities in academic achievement and will highlight the alarmingly low graduation rates of students in Massachusetts, which are referenced in Judge Botsford’s Report. We call the Court’s attention to a severe crisis, especially among poor and minority youth, including new research revealing that, for example, only 36 percent of Hispanic 9th graders graduate “on time” with a diploma. The research presented in this brief will show how racial isolation and poverty correlate highly with low graduation rates.

This brief presents the dropout crisis to this Court as both a statewide phenomenon and as a formidable indicator of inadequate educational resources in the focus districts: Brockton, Lowell, Springfield and Winchendon. This brief will further describe how despite the appearance of progress on some measures, the gross inadequacy in education is evidenced by these low rates, especially as they pertain to disadvantaged youth in Massachusetts.

Finally, we suggest that this state’s failure to provide adequate regular and special education resources in high poverty districts is also related to high dropout rates, which are related to high rates of incarceration for minority youth. 

In conclusion, we urge this court to fashion a remedy, giving full consideration to the recommendations in the report A, and to research on effective educational reforms for high poverty schools and districts. We also request this court to fashion a remedy that reflects a goal of improving graduation rates for poor and minority students in the Commonwealth, and includes consideration of the additional costs and resources needed to achieve this goal.


In compliance with the UC Open Access Policy, this amicus brief has been made available on eScholarship:

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