Kathy Manning: Department of Education taking significant action on antisemitism behind the scenes

The Cabinet agency has cited Dartmouth University as an example of best practices in dealing with antisemitism

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Rep. Kathy Manning (D-NC) speaks during a press conference on new legislation to support Holocaust education nationwide at the U.S. Capitol Building on January 27, 2023 in Washington, D.C.

The Department of Education has taken significant action behind the scenes to combat rising antisemitism on campuses, Rep. Kathy Manning (D-NC) told Jewish Insider on Wednesday following meetings with senior department officials.

“They were doing a lot of things that we were just not aware of,” Manning, who co-chairs the House antisemitism task force, told JI. “It seems to me that they are taking the issue very, very seriously and doing everything they can.”

Manning and Senate task force co-chair Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-NV) met recently with Education Secretary Miguel Cardona and Deputy Secretary of Education Cindy Marten. Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Catherine Lhamon met with the House task force on Wednesday.

Manning said that the department had organized a webinar with 1,000 college presidents and administrators to discuss their obligations to protect Jewish students under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, which Manning described as a “significant step.” 

And the department has communicated with “every school in the country” their legal obligations to address antisemitic discrimination and launched dozens of investigations since Oct. 7.

“They are going to work as hard as they can to get those other cases — the claims — investigated,” Manning continued, but the department officials emphasized that they need more staff to pursue these investigation.

Marten has also been conducting site visits at schools — both K-12 and colleges and universities — across the country to evaluate the situations on campus. 

Manning said that the department has been using Dartmouth University as an example for other schools of best practices in handling discussions on antisemitism and the Middle East, as well as distributing resources and training for schools.

The department has also updated its website to provide clearer information and resources for students hoping to file claims, as well as teachers and administrators to understand their obligations.

Manning said the department also is planning to announce plans to make it easier for students to report campus antisemitism, and to  ensure that they feel safe from retaliation if they do make complaints.

One issue that the North Carolina congresswoman said didn’t come up in Wednesday’s meeting was the administration’s slow rulemaking process regarding campus antisemitism — which Manning had described as a primary source of concern at a December task force meeting with White House officials.

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