Washington—Statement of AFT President Randi Weingarten on the recently released report of the U.S. Department of Education's Equity and Excellence Commission, "For Each and Every Child: A Strategy for Education Equity and Excellence." The Equity and Excellence Commission was mandated by Congress to provide advice to Education Secretary Arne Duncan on the disparities in meaningful educational opportunities and to recommend ways in which federal policies can address such disparities. Weingarten served on the commission.
"A national commitment to equity ensures that our children are able to not only dream their dreams, but achieve them. Globally, the highest-achieving systems are the most equitable. This report makes clear that many American public schools stand shoulder to shoulder with those in high-achieving countries, but that we have to do what we do in our best schools in all schools, for all children. It decries entrenched discriminatory practices that have deprived generations of students of the excellent education they deserve. It lays out the need to properly and equitably implement the Common Core State Standards so their potential can be broadly realized.
"The commission's report makes clear that equity is the crucial gateway to excellence. Instead of simply fixating on outcomes, as important as they are, the report speaks to creating opportunities for all children to get there. It calls for concrete investments in wraparound services and preschool. It also spells out how to help and sustain the teaching force we need—not by blaming teachers and their unions, but by elevating the profession, providing high-quality preparation, a feedback-based evaluation system, high-quality curricula, teaching resources, safe and nurturing schools, and collaborative learning environments.
"This report is the closest thing we have had to a blueprint—crafted by people from across the ideological spectrum—for laying out the necessary programs and policies that the United States can take to close its shameful equity gap between the haves and have-nots. We owe this to all our children. We strongly urge leaders to do at long last what is not only morally right but necessary to ensure a healthy democratic society with a thriving economy."