Putting the fox in charge of the hen-house

Louis Proyect lnp3 at SPAMpanix.com
Wed Jun 27 11:56:45 MDT 2001

NY Times, June 27, 2001

Affirmative Action Foe Picked for Rights Post


WASHINGTON, June 26 - The Bush Administration has nominated Gerald A.
Reynolds, a lawyer and staunch opponent of affirmative action, to head the
Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights, the division responsible
for protecting the civil rights of minorities, women and disabled people
from kindergarten through graduate school.

Mr. Reynolds, senior regulatory counsel at Kansas City Power and Light, is
the former president of the Center for New Black Leadership, a conservative
nonprofit organization that opposes mainstream civil rights groups on
issues like minority set- asides, quotas and affirmative action. He has
also served as counsel to the Center for Equal Opportunity, a Washington
organization with a long history of attacking affirmative action and
government-mandated advantages for minorities and women.

Though not highly visible, the Office of Civil Rights plays a powerful,
behind-the-scenes role on matters of race for the nation's public schools
and universities. It is charged with enforcing all laws dealing with
discrimination based on race, nationality, disability, sex or age. Last
year, it received 6,000 complaints of discrimination, many of them through
a dozen regional offices Mr. Reynolds will oversee in his new job.

Lindsey Kozberg, a spokeswoman for the Department of Education, said Mr.
Reynolds, who is 38, would make no public comments until after his
confirmation by the Senate. But the Center for New Black Leadership, on
whose board Mr. Reynolds sits, released statements and articles he has
written in recent years.

In 1997, Mr. Reynolds called for a return to affirmative action "as it was
first proposed in the 1960's - aggressive and affirmative outreach to
increase the participation of minorities in educational settings and the
workplace." In Mr. Reynolds's view, quotas and minority set-asides are
distortions of affirmative action that are "exacerbating racial tension in

As states and universities increasingly turn to standardized tests to
determine promotion, graduation and access to higher education, the
division issued guidelines in December warning them against tests that
would hurt minority students disproportionately, and cautioned that civil
rights protections would apply in the new age of high-stakes testing.

For the moment, those guidelines have been shelved by the Bush
administration. Civil rights advocates said today that they were not
hopeful that the guidelines, which were several years in the making, would
be upheld under Mr. Reynolds.

Bill Taylor, vice chairman of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights,
noted that the Center for Equal Opportunity was on record as opposing much
government enforcement of civil rights laws. He said he was concerned that
Mr. Reynolds's resume showed scant experience in government or education,
and that what experience he did have suggested hostility to the regulations
he will be charged with upholding.

"We now have some evidence that the Department of Education is a parking
place or a dumping ground for ideological right-wingers," Mr. Taylor said.

Roger Clegg, who replaced Mr. Reynolds as general counsel at the Center for
Equal Opportunity, said that during his tenure, Mr. Reynolds filed Freedom
of Information Act requests to public colleges and universities for a
project publicizing racial preferences in admissions.

While the center had frequently clashed with the Office of Civil Rights,
Mr. Clegg predicted smoother days ahead. "My hope is that the
administration will return to the original meaning of the civil rights
laws, which is to guarantee equal opportunity for everyone, regardless of
race, and reject policies that favor some races over others," Mr. Clegg
said. "I believe that Jerry agrees that's the right approach."

Clint Bolick, vice president and director of litigation at the conservative
Institute for Justice, said Mr. Reynolds seemed a good fit with President
Bush's views on minority participation in education, as demonstrated in
Texas. As governor there, Mr. Bush banned affirmative action, replacing it
with a policy guaranteeing admission to the state university system to all
students graduating in the top 10 percent of their high school class.

Louis Proyect
Marxism mailing list: http://www.marxmail.org

More information about the Marxism mailing list