On February 19, 2013, the Equity and Excellence Commission publicly released its report, “For Each and Every Child: A Strategy for Education Equity and Excellence.” This Commission was formed in 2011 by the U.S. Department of Education. This idea to form this Commission was conceived by Congressman Mike Honda (D-CA) and Chaka Fattah (D-PA), who through their work on the House Appropriations Committee secured funding for the Department’s Office of Civil Rights to conduct the Commission. The Commission’s charge was to provide advice to the secretary of the U.S. Department of Education on the disparities in meaningful educational opportunities that give rise to the achievement gap, with a focus on systems of finance, and to recommend ways in which federal and state policies could address such disparities. The Commission has worked together for two years to identify key barriers and solutions that can be implemented by the federal government, states, LEAs, and community based organizations. Their recommendations fall into five categories:
- Improving school finance and efficiency
- Teaching, leading, and learning opportunities
- Ensuring access to high quality early care and education
- Meeting needs of students in high poverty communities
- Governance and accountability to improve equity and excellence
In a web conference for the release of the recommendations, the Commissioners pointed out that while changing school finance formulas is hard work, we cannot lose sight of the need for all children, regardless of zip code or race, to have a quality education. They also highlighted some recommendations with little or no cost that LEAs and states could implement without additional resources. Secretary Arne Duncan shared that both he and the President are committed to meeting the needs of students in high poverty communities through investments such as Promise Neighborhoods and cross-system collaborations.