Congressional education report: 5 years and $700k to recommend "equity"

Summary:A lengthy effort to examine the state of education in American schools released their final report today. Apparently, we need equity in our schools.

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But wait, it gets better. Here's a few bites from Congressman Honda's forward to the document:

  • "...This is a declaration of an urgent national mission: to provide equity and excellence in education in American public schools once and for all."
  • "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 game-changing report embraces the urgent truth in education reform: that parity is not equity."

And here's what a few stakeholders had to say about the report:

  • "This report offers a cautionary note about the consequences of our anemic and regressive support for education." -NAACP
  • “Through much debate and deliberation, this report presents a blueprint for how to guarantee that each child has a fair shot at the American Dream.” - Charles E. Ducommun Professor of Education at Stanford University
  • "[This report] notes that we cannot achieve educational excellence for all our children without addressing the educational, physical and social and emotional needs of our most vulnerable children. America must do what we do in our best schools in all our schools, for all our students. - American Federation for Teachers

Really? It took two years, an act of Congress, and a panel of experts to agree that we should, really for sure, provide equitable educational opportunities for all of our students? That schools should follow best practices? That we need to make sure kids feel safe and have enough to eat so they can learn? My 10-year old could have told them that for a hell of a lot less than $700,000. This is not rocket science.

The problem will be implementation. Sure, this document is being heralded as a blueprint. But blueprints aren't worth the paper on which they're printed if we don't build anything from them. Does anyone actually believe that real reform, the right funding, and better policies that promote wonderful teaching in urban, rural, and suburban schools will come out of this document? Where is the legislation that implements these recommended reforms or that addresses this "cautionary note"?

And not to pick on the NAACP, but if all we get is a "cautionary note" out of this report, then, again, we should have looked at the vast body of literature, grassroots efforts at reform, begging parents, screaming teachers, and disillusioned students for our "note of caution." Give me a break - We're a long way past caution. We should be in full-on crisis mode with policy makers taking immediate, unified action. But we aren't and they won't. Congress can barely agree that we should pay our bills, let alone bring education in this country to the levels seen in other countries around the world. We're too mired in bureaucracy and political game playing to do more than create an advisory committee to form a commission to write a report.

I think this process suggests just what's going to come of the Commission's report. Nothing. Absolutely nothing. But I bet the report will be nicely bound in Arne Duncan's office. Super. I wonder how many other reports are lining the shelves of his office while dropout rates skyrocket, teens enter college (if they're lucky)  woefully unprepared for the coursework , and the rest enter the workforce with no reasonable vocational training to compete in a global marketplace for even skilled labor jobs.

Keep your report and give us some workable legislation or step aside and get out of the education business entirely. Because "Ed Reform" hasn't accomplished much more than turn our students into solid test-takers. You'll have to forgive me if I don't have much faith in this latest "blueprint" for actually creating the equity and opportunities it identifies.

Topics: Government


Christopher Dawson grew up in Seattle, back in the days of pre-antitrust Microsoft, coffeeshops owned by something other than Starbucks, and really loud, inarticulate music. He escaped to the right coast in the early 90's and received a degree in Information Systems from Johns Hopkins University. While there, he began a career in health a... Full Bio

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