WASHINGTON – An Education Department commission is recommending pre-kindergarten programs for every poor student within 10 years, adding a time frame to President Barack Obama’s similar call to help the least advantaged arrive for their first day of classes as prepared as their counterparts from more affluent homes.
Education Secretary Arne Duncan on Tuesday released his Equity and Excellence Commission’s report, which is not binding but includes input from his top aides and the White House’s chief education policy adviser. In the report, the commissioners documented the inequalities of the nation’s schools and recommended ways to ensure that students from poorer neighborhoods aren’t automatically enrolled in less-effective schools.
“The time has come for bold action by the states – and the federal government – to redesign and reform the funding of our nation’s public schools. Achieving equity and excellence requires sufficient resources that are distributed based on student need, not ZIP code, and that are efficiently used,” the 52-page report urged after two years of study of the gap between rich and poor students.
The report called on a new federal program to send tax dollars to schools with high numbers of low-income students, especially those with large gaps between the best and worst students. The commission also urged Washington to offer other money as an incentive for states to spend their own money on schools with high concentrations of low-income students and to make sure it is not too easy to become a teacher.
The recommendations were likely to find resistance in Congress, which is facing pressure to come up with a plan by March 1 to reduce the deficit.