Office for Civil Rights
Annual Report to Congress FY 2004

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2004 was a special year in America’s longstanding efforts to provide equal educational opportunity for all people. It marked the 50th Anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Brown v. Board of Education, which declared racially segregated schools to be unconstitutional. 2004 also marked the 40th Anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits racial and national origin discrimination by recipients of federal financial assistance, including educational institutions, and the 30th Anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Lau v. Nichols, which affirmed the educational rights of language minority students. These historic milestones helped bring about extraordinary achievements in efforts to eradicate racial segregation, eliminate educational discrimination, and ensure that all students have the opportunity to reach their full educational potential.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 gives all Americans another reason to be proud of our country. The work of equality is not done because the evil of bigotry is not finally defeated. Yet the laws of this nation and the good heart of this nation are on the side of equality.”

President George W. Bush
Remarks Commemorating the 40th Anniversary
of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, July 1, 2004

This report, which covers the activities of the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights (OCR) from Oct. 1, 2003, to Sept. 30, 2004, demonstrates how OCR's compliance program continues in the tradition of these civil rights legacies. From investigating the misidentification of minority students in special education, to ensuring accessibility of college campuses for students with disabilities, to facilitating access of women to equal academic and athletic opportunities, OCR has vigorously pursued its statutory civil rights enforcement responsibilities.

These and other reported accomplishments also demonstrate how the fair, effective and efficient enforcement of the civil rights laws can support the goals of the No Child Left Behind Act by advancing both excellence and equity . After long decades, the pernicious achievement gap is beginning to close. Reading and math test scores are rising across the country, with disadvantaged and minority students leading the way.

“And while our schools are no longer segregated by law, they are still not equal in opportunity and excellence. Justice requires more than a place in a school. Justice requires that every school teach every child in America.”

President George W. Bush
Grand Opening, Brown v. Board of Education
National Historic Site, May 17, 2004

In safeguarding the rights of all students to equal access to high quality education, we ensure their future and our nation's future. We need to stay the course. Our children deserve no less.

Respectfully submitted,

James F. Manning
Delegated the Authority of
Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights

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Last Modified: 11/01/2007