Equity and excellence in US education policy

The future of the American Dream depends on what we do at this decisive moment. As an educator of more than 30 years, I know the dream is first ignited in the classroom. Education is the origin of opportunity in our cities and towns, and it is the engine of exceptionalism on the world stage. Now, more than ever before, the attainability of the American dream is imperiled by an opportunity gap in public education — a gap exacerbated by wealth disparities at the local level. Our nation’s global leadership is also threatened by widening disparities between American children and students from other developed nations, as our children and families fall further below the poverty line.

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At this decisive moment, the Commission on Equity and Excellence in Education issues its seminal “For Each and Every Child” report. It is not a restatement of public education’s struggles, nor is it a mere list of recommendations. Rather, this is a declaration of an urgent national mission: to provide equity and excellence in education in American public schools once and for all. This collective wisdom is an historic blueprint for making the dream of equity, and a world-class education, for each and every American child a reality.

After a year and a half of groundbreaking public dialogue and debate, of study and scrutiny, this report reflects the thinking of the nation’s foremost educational experts, who worked arduously and collaboratively, despite our sometimes disparate ideas about educational reform. It is also inclusive of the input, experiences and ideas of teachers, parents, students, school board members, counselors and principals from across the nation. We present a big and bold new vision on the federal role in education by recommending transformations in school funding structures, implementation of vibrant early education programs, and a commitment to a stronger investment for teacher preparation and retention in the field. This will affect how we assess and address the educational needs of each and every child in America, thereby forging equity for all.

This game-changing report embraces the urgent truth in education reform: that parity is not equity. The report commits to a transformative vision on how local, state and federal governments can, and should, wield power to ensure excellence in education for all of America’s children.

We are at a formative moment in American education, and this report reflects the gravity of the moment. We must all work together tirelessly to make public education thrive in every community in this great nation. By rising to meet this moment, and by guaranteeing that each child is inspired and equipped to succeed, we safeguard America’s founding values and advance our competitiveness, our prosperity and our security. When public education is equitable, the dream of America endures.


Honda is a member of the House Appropriations Committee.