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Commission to Duncan: Close achievement gaps through equitable funding, early childhood education

WASHINGTON - February 19, 2013 -

The National Education Association applauds a new report released today by the Equity and Excellence Commission calling for a federal match to states to enroll low-income children in quality pre-kindergarten programs. The report also identifies ways to distribute program funds more equitably to close critical resource gaps between affluent and poor schools.

In its report, For Each and Every Child: A Strategy for Education Equity and Excellence prepared for U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, the Commission urged the federal government to “guarantee, within the next decade, that all low-income children will have access to early childhood programs.”

NEA members continue to push for equity in education “because we know that education creates opportunity and helps to ensure a level playing field for students who might be attending schools that are not equipped with the most up-to-date tools and resources,” said NEA President Dennis Van Roekel. “The real challenge for our education system is in lifting up all districts so all students attend well-staffed and well-resourced schools.”

“Early childhood education and full-day kindergarten are fundamental to long-term student success. The availability of quality early childhood education shouldn’t be determined by how much money a child’s parents make,” said Van Roekel. “The road to economic prosperity and helping those aspiring to join the middle class runs directly through our nation’s public schools and we must all do more to ensure that all our students have access to full-day kindergarten and great public schools.” Van Roekel noted that President Obama called for greater emphasis and more funding for early childhood education in his 2013 State of the Union address.

The Commission, appointed by Sec. Duncan, was tasked with recognizing the disparities in meaningful educational opportunities and to recommend ways in which federal policies can address those disparities. The Commission’s report was released earlier today.

An appointee to the commission, Van Roekel emphasized the need for the nation to focus on the students for whom the current educational system is not working.

“I am honored to have been part of the Commission and look forward to all of us taking up the mantle of change called for in its report. We must work for equity in the distribution of educational resources in order to close the gaps that persist and increase the chances for success of all students,” said Van Roekel.

Congressmen Chaka Fattah (D-PA) and Mike Honda (D-CA) secured funding for the Commission through their work on the House Appropriations Committee. The Commission consists of 28 education advocates, civil rights leaders, scholars, lawyers, and corporate leaders.

For more on closing gaps in achievement and equity in education, please click here.
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The National Education Association is the nation’s largest professional employer organization, representing More than 3 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators and students preparing to become teachers.

CONTACT: Sara Robertson  (202) 822-7823,