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For Each and Every Child

By The Office of Congressman Mike Honda

A strategy for education equity and excellence

WASHINGTON, D.C -- The future of the American Dream depends on what we do at this decisive moment. As an educator for 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 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.

At this decisive moment, the Commission on Equity and Excellence in Education issues “For Each and Every Child.” The report 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 a 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 ground-breaking 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. – Foreword by Congressman Mike Honda from the Commission on Equity and Excellence in Education’s “For Each and Every Child” report.

Honda submitted the Citizens' Commission on Educational Equity Act 2008 (HR 7203) to convene a commission to examine and propose solutions to the inequalities present in the public education system. The Commission’s charter was filed in February 2011.

“I am humbled and honored for the opportunity to work with the nation’s foremost educational leaders and researchers. As an educator, I witnessed disparities in the system and am gratified to see this process of addressing all of America’s children’s needs is underway. The Commissioners represent various philosophies, backgrounds and perspectives but share a common passion and vision to guarantee an equitable education for every child. Accordingly, the report contains one singular, common vision for student achievement,” stated Congressman Mike Honda.

“This is the first time the federal government has called on providing access to high-quality, early childhood education for each and every child. We must ensure that everyone can begin their education on a level-playing field and close gaps early before they are too wide. We cannot afford to play catch-up later. I applaud President Obama for calling for the same policy in his State of the Union. I look forward to working with the administration to realize this.

“We must overhaul financing of schools; the federal government needs states to acknowledge each and every child’s needs when funding their schools. We must ensure our children have access to high quality and effective teachers by recruiting, rigorously training and retaining the best and the brightest to staff our schools.

“This report is not the culmination of the Commission’s work but the start of much serious effort to address the inequities in opportunities for our students in public schools so they have a fair shot at the American Dream. I look forward to moving forward the recommendations of “For Each and Every Child” through Congress, working with my friend and colleague Congressman Fattah. We are both passionate and committed to providing a quality education for all children.

“To begin this next chapter of ensuring educational equity, I will host a roll out event in my district shortly. Additionally, we will introduce the Commissioners to discuss the recommendations with schools and the community. We will examine not only the disparities but how schools work to provide a high quality education that affords each child the opportunity to succeed. I look forward to continuing this dialogue in my district.

“It is only when our nation begins to address the needs of each and every child that we can ensure America will continue to remain a global leader and innovator. This is neither a minority issue nor a poverty issue but an American issue. To ensure our future economic and social prosperity, it is imperative we work together to effect reform,” concluded Honda.

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