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National Education Commission Calls for Sufficient Resources and Comprehensive Educational Opportunities for All Kids

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Published: 2/20/2013 9:58:00 AM

For Each and Every Child, the recently-released report of the national Commission on Equity and Excellence in Education, presents a thorough analysis of the educational crisis facing the country and offers detailed recommendations for what local, state and federal governments need to do to ensure educational opportunity and educational equity. The Congressionally-ordered report was endorsed unanimously by all of its members, a diverse group of the country’s leading educational policy experts, including the Campaign’s executive director Michael A. Rebell. 
 
 
 The report outlines its findings in the following five areas:
1) Improving school finance and efficiency
2) Teaching, leading and learning opportunities
3) Ensuring access to high-quality early childhood education
3) Meeting the needs of students in high-poverty communities
4) Governance and accountability to improve equity and excellence

 
In addressing the school finance and efficiency component, the commissioners recommend that states take a three-prong approach. First, governments need to identify what resources students need to receive a meaningful educational opportunity, which the report defines as the opportunity “to achieve rigorous academic standards and obtain the skills to compete in the economy and participate capably as citizens in a democratic society.” The next step is to use costing-out studies to determine the cost of providing the necessary educational services in an adequate and efficient manner. And finally, states must then fully fund their education systems and assure that funds are distributed equitably in accordance with student need. The report stresses the dangerous trend precipitated by the recession in 2008 where state budgets cut funding for schools even while lawmakers push for improved results. In addition to its specific recommendations for states, the authors note that the federal government has a role to play as well, including directing and incentivizing states to implement equitable and efficient school finance systems, expanding its authority to address persistent inequities, and ensuring federal dollars do not perpetuate broken funding systems.

 
The second set of recommendations focuses on attracting and attaining highly talented teachers from the top of their college classes, a goal that involves providing competitive teachers’ salaries and improving professional development opportunities to align with Common Core Standards. The third section reinforces President Barack Obama’s call for expanding pre-K opportunities for four-year-olds. The commission recommends universal access to early childhood education, insisting that it be “a matter of the highest national priority, with a special priority for children in our poorest communities.” It demands new initiatives and investments to guarantee that within ten years, all low-income children in America have access to high-quality pre-K programs. The fourth set of recommendations focuses on meeting the needs of students in high poverty areas by providing comprehensive educational opportunities, including expanded health services, extended learning time, and parent engagement efforts. The fifth and final section addresses governance and accountability goals.

Compendium: Independently Authored Materials by Equity and Excellence Commission Members (part 1) (part 2)