ATLANTA – The NAACP announced May 16 a major directive against states where racial disparity still exists in public school systems. This marks the first wave of direct actions to achieve equity in education as outlined last fall by the “NAACP Call for Action in Education.” The Call for Action aims to reduce racial disparity in the nation’s public schools by 50 percent over the next five years.

“Twenty-eight governors have pledged to join the NAACP and our partners in the efforts to reduce racial disparity and close the achievement gap. However, 22 states failed to respond by the May 10 deadline,” said NAACP President and CEO Kweisi Mfume. “The NAACP will file Title VI complaints with the Office of Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education, and the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Justice Department against those states that did not submit an equity in education plan.”

The complaints will be first filed against the states of Florida, Louisiana and Ohio. “The basis of the complaints is the continued existence in these three states of clear and consistent racial disparities in testing, graduation rates, suspensions, placement in special education and the lack of access to gifted and talented programs,” said NAACP Education Director John Jackson.

The NAACP will begin work immediately to ensure that smaller class sizes are implemented in every county in Florida. Numerous studies have outlined the benefits of smaller classes, yet the state of Florida’s data shows disparities in class sizes in every county. The NAACP is spearheading a campaign to collect the more than 400,000 signatures required in Floridaa to place this issue on statewide referendum on the November 2002 ballot.

As part of this long-term, sustained initiative, the organization will take the lead in pursuing legislative action and ballot initiatives thoughout the nation.