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Rep. Honda Introduces Bill to Create National Commission to Study Education Disparities

By Jeff Hudson - April 3, 2009

Congressman Mike Honda (D-Campbell) has reintroduced legislation to create a national commission charged with gathering public opinions and insights about how government can improve education and eliminate disparities in the educational system.

The commission would be comprised of parents, teachers and experts on equity, civil rights, education policy, school finance, economic and taxation.

Rep. Honda said that the considerable variance in quality between education programs in different cities and school districts is “a national problem demanding a national conversation. Despite our best efforts, our children are not receiving an equitable education. There are vast disparities between the education provided by schools in different school districts, counties and states. Our current funding formulas are outdated, relying on factors such as average daily attendance, average costs for “regular” students, percentage of low-income students and concentrations of low-income students, special education students and English language learners. The funding formulas are based on a number of factors not necessarily correlated to the individual needs of the children in the school, and they vary from state to state.”

Dennis Van Roekel, president of the National Education Association, supports Honda’s legislation bill, which is called the Educational Opportunity and Equity Commission Act. “Eliminating educational disparities is fundamental to ensuring all students have access to a great public school,” Van Roekel said. “The opportunity and ability of students to succeed in the 21st Century should not depend on where they live.”

Jan Harp Domene, president of the national Parent Teacher Association, said Honda’s bill “would help build an informed, citizen-led discourse across the country on identifying solutions to instill equity in our nation’s schools.” Sharon Robinson, president of the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, said “The commission would provide valuable feedback to Congress and the community.”

Honda represents California’s 15th Congressional District, covering much of Silicon Valley, where many high tech companies rely on well educated employees from overseas because not enough American graduates are available. Information on the bill is available at http://honda.house.gov/press/.

Editor's Note: Jeff Hudson is the editor of EdBrief and an award-winning education reporter and writer in print, radio and television media.