Today, the federal Equity and Excellence Commission issued its report, "For
Each and Every Child," calling for "bold action
by the states, and the federal government, to redesign the funding of our nation's
public schools ... with sufficient resources that are distributed based on
student need," and urging "the highest national priority" for broad access
to high quality preschool.
In 2010, at the behest of Congressmen Mike Honda of California and Chaka Fattah
of Philadelphia, Congress established the Equity Commission within the U.S.
After two years of deliberations, the Commission's 27 members agreed to focus
their report on America's need for better school funding, high quality early
childhood education, the necessary supports for teachers and school leaders,
and mitigating poverty's adverse effects on learning.
"We are at a formative moment in American education," Congressman Honda wrote
in a foreword to the "Each Child" report. "We must all work together to make
public education thrive in every community."
Congressman Fatah added that he wants to work with "policymakers around the
country, to make equity and excellence a reality for every American child and
to strengthen America's future."
"Each and Every Child" recommends that states: (1) identify the programs
and services needed for educational opportunity and determine the actual costs
of the resources needed; (2) adopt and implement school finance systems that
provide fair and sufficient funding for all students to reach state content
standards, and support those systems with stable and predictable revenues;
and (3) develop systems to ensure districts effectively use all education funding.
Commissioner David Sciarra highlighted the Equity Commission's concern that
too often "students, families and communities are burdened by broken systems
of education funding" in their states.
"We simply can't deliver high quality public education to all children without
adequate and equitable school funding," said Mr. Sciarra, who leads the Education
Law Center, which has led the effort to transform New Jersey's school funding
system into a beacon of equity for the nation.
Commissioner Jim Ryan, professor of law at the University of Virginia said, "I
am heartened by the consensus on the commission that our school finance systems
should be more equitable, and I am delighted by the support for increasing
access to high quality preschool. The evidence is overwhelming regarding
the benefits of preschool. It's simply a very, very smart investment,
as President Obama recently explained when announcing his support for universal
"High quality early learning programs must be a matter of the highest national
priority," the report proclaims, because "it is the years from birth to age
5 that are crucial" in the learning life of every child. High quality prekindergarten
makes a tremendous difference in preparing children for success in school and
in life, and "every dollar invested ... produces a 7 to 10 percent per annum
Equity and Excellent Commission
members were announced in February 2011, and began deliberations immediately.
The Equity Commission was charged with:
• collecting data, analyzing issues and obtaining broad public input on strategies
to increase educational opportunity by improving school funding equity; and
• making recommendations for restructuring school finance systems to achieve
equity in resources and further student performance, especially for students
at the lower end of the achievement gap.
Many organizations, deeply concerned by the inequities and missing educational
opportunities in many communities, presented their analysis of the issues and
recommendations in a series of public hearings held throughout 2011. A broad
array of education stakeholder, civil rights, religious, and other organizations
testified on shocking lack of resources in some schools and the urgency needed
to correct these conditions. For example, Public Advocates and educators testified
in California, while the Advancement Project and the 21st Century Schools Fund,
the National Council of Churches and others submitted written testimony.
Optimism is growing that Commission recommendations to expand access to high
quality preschool will come to fruition on the heels of President Obama's announcement
of a ground-breaking federal initiative to expand early education for four-year-olds.
In addition, over the last year the demand to overhaul state school finance
systems has taken center stage in a growing number of states, including Texas,
Colorado, Kansas, California and Washington, driven by the recognition that
school funding must be tied to the actual cost of delivering rigorous academic
standards to all children.