Healey creates advisory council as SCOTUS weighs affirmative action

A new advisory council to help guide the Healey administration on the Supreme Court's pending decision on affirmative action met for the first time Wednesday afternoon, more than two hours before the governor's office announced the creation of the group.

The meeting wasn't open to the public, though most of the 42 members of the Advisory Council for the Advancement of Representation in Education — including college and university leaders, civil rights lawyers and advocates, and students — attended, a spokesperson for Education Secretary Patrick Tutwiler told the State House News Service.

"We want to send a clear message to students of all backgrounds – you are welcome here in Massachusetts," Gov. Maura Healey said in a statement. "We will continue to monitor the Supreme Court and any future decisions, and work with the advisory council to inform any additional action needed at the state level to keep Massachusetts welcoming and inclusive of all students."

The council is slated to hold "frequent" meetings over at least the next year, the spokesperson said, once the Supreme Court rules on whether colleges and universities can use race within their admissions process.

But it's unclear if those meetings will be public due to discussions containing legal advice, the spokesperson said.

"A multitude of backgrounds, perspectives, and worldviews will always be a value-add at our institutions of higher learning, both public and private, and our administration is committed to advancing those values," Tutwiler said in a statement. "The experts joining us on this advisory council are great thinkers and key leaders at the forefront of the fight for equity for historically underrepresented students in Massachusetts, and together we will figure out the best way to continue inclusivity and representation in education."

MEFA Pathway, an online resource for college and career planning, will be free for all Massachusetts students, the Healey administration also announced Wednesday.

In another bid to reach students who are historically underrepresented in higher education, the administration said it will expand professional development opportunities for educators on a free tool called My Career and My Academic Plan, with grant funding totaling $600,000.



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