In its final report released in February, the U.S. Department of Education’s Equity and Excellence Commission issued a clear and powerful charge: Efforts to improve our school system “must start with equity”—particularly the equity of resources. To achieve this goal, the commission, of which I was a member, instructed all levels of government to improve or redesign their methods of funding schools in order to adopt truly equitable funding systems.
In calling for equity in funding—which the commission defines as providing sufficient resources “distributed based on student need, not ZIP code”—the report tells policymakers the “what” of school funding reform, laying the groundwork for improving school quality.
Missing from the report, however, is the “how”: How should or could the federal government, states, and local districts implement this bold principle of funding equity? Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said that the report “compels us to act,” but how should each level of government do that? Leaving it up to each level to figure out is a recipe for inaction.This article was originally published in Education Week.