U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan today announced the appointment of 28 education advocates, civil rights leaders, scholars, lawyers, and corporate leaders to the Department of Education’s Equity and Excellence Commission. The commission will examine the impact of school finance on educational opportunity and recommend ways school finance can be improved to increase equity and achievement.
The commission will examine the disparities in meaningful educational opportunities that give rise to the achievement gap, with a focus on systems of finance, and recommend ways in which federal policies could address such disparities. The commission will also recommend ways to restructure school finance systems to achieve equity in the distribution of educational resources and further student achievement and attainment. The Department formed the commission in response to a congressional request included in the fiscal year 2010 Consolidated Appropriations Act.
The commission will meet for the first time in public session on February 22 from 10 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. in Barnard Auditorium at the Department of Education building at 400 Maryland Avenue, SW in Washington, D.C., to discuss the scope of its work, outreach efforts, and the timetable for completion of its report.
The members have a wide range of backgrounds in an array of fields including education, business and law and will use their experiences to guide their recommendations:
Christopher Edley—Commission Co-Chair: Chris Edley has been dean of University of California, Berkeley Law School since 2004, and is also Senior Policy Adviser to the University President. He was co-founder of two multidisciplinary think tanks: the Civil Rights Project at Harvard, where he taught law for 23 years; and Berkeley’s Chief Justice Warren Institute on Race, Ethnicity and Diversity. Edley held White House policy positions under Presidents Carter and Clinton, and was on the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.
Reed Hastings—Commission Co-Chair: Reed Hastings co-founded Netflix as a DVD rental by mail company in 1997. Reed is an active educational philanthropist and board member of many nonprofits. In addition, he was President of the California State Board of Education from 2000 to 2004. He has led successful statewide political campaigns for more charter public schools and easier passage of local school bonds.
Cynthia Brown: Cindy Brown is the Vice President for Education Policy for the Center for American Progress in Washington, DC. Prior to joining the Center for American Progress, she was appointed by President Carter as the first assistant secretary for civil rights in the U.S. Department of Education and has worked for the Council of Chief State School Officers as Director of its Resource Center on Educational Equity, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and the Children’s Defense Fund.
Mike Casserly: Mike Casserly has served as the Executive Director of the Council of Great City Schools, the nation’s primary coalition of large urban public school systems, since January 1992. Prior to assuming this position, he served as the organization’s Director of Legislation and Research for 15 years.
Mariano-Florentino CuÉLlar: Tino Cuéllar is Professor of Law and Deane F. Johnson Faculty Scholar at Stanford Law School. His research and teaching focus on administrative law, executive power, and how organizations implement critical regulatory, public safety, migration, and international security responsibilities in a changing world. He has served in two presidential administrations and was recently appointed to the Council of the Administrative Conference of the United States, an independent agency charged with recommending improvements in the efficiency and fairness of federal regulatory programs.
Linda Darling-Hammond: Linda Darling-Hammond is the Charles E. Ducommun Professor of Education at Stanford University where she has launched the Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education and the School Redesign Network and served as faculty sponsor for the Stanford Teacher Education Program. She is a former president of the American Educational Research Association and member of the National Academy of Education. Her research, teaching, and policy work focus on issues of school restructuring, teacher quality and educational equity.
Sandra Dungee Glenn: Sandra Dungee Glenn is the President and Chief Executive Officer of the American Cities Foundation. In 2001, Sandra Dungee Glenn was appointed to the Board of Education for the School District of Philadelphia, and she served from 2002 to 2007 as a Commissioner on the School Reform Commission ( SRC ), the governing body of the School District of Philadelphia. In September 2007, Pennsylvania Governor Edward Rendell appointed Ms. Dungee Glenn to the position of Chairwoman of the SRC. In 2009, Governor Rendell appointed her to the Pennsylvania State Board of Education.
Jim Edgar: Jim Edgar is a distinguished fellow with Institute of Government and Public Affairs at the University of Illinois. As the 38th governor of Illinois, he made fiscal discipline and children the cornerstones of his two terms. First elected in 1990, Governor Edgar won re-election in 1994 by the largest margin ever for a governor.
Eric Hanushek: Rick Hanushek is the Paul and Jean Hanna Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution of Stanford University. He has been a leader in the development of economic analysis of educational issues, and his work on efficiency, resource usage, and economic outcomes of schools has frequently entered into the design of both national and international educational policy. His research spans such diverse areas as the impacts of teacher quality, high stakes accountability, and class size reduction on achievement along with the role of cognitive skills in international growth and development.
Karen Hawley Miles: Karen Hawley Miles is executive director and founder of Education Resource Strategies, a nonprofit organization in Boston, Massachusetts, that specializes in strategic planning, organization, and resource allocation in urban public school districts. Her work aims to help states, districts, and schools rethink resource allocation and empower principals to create great schools and redirect resources to promote excellent teaching, individual attention for children, and productive instructional time.
Kati Haycock: Kati Haycock is currently serving as the president of the Education Trust. She previously served as executive vice president of the Children’s Defense Fund, the nation’s largest child-advocacy organization. A native Californian, Haycock founded and served as president of the Achievement Council, a statewide organization that helps teachers and principals in predominantly minority schools improve student achievement.
Ben Jealous: Ben Jealous is the 17th President and Chief Executive Officer of the NAACP, and the youngest person to hold the position in the organization’s nearly 100-year history. During his career, he has served as president of the Rosenberg Foundation, director of the U.S. Human Rights Program at Amnesty International and Executive Director of the National Newspaper Publishers Association ( NNPA ), a federation of more than 200 black community newspapers.
John King: John King is the Senior Deputy Commissioner for P-12 Education in New York. He is the co-founder of Roxbury Preparatory Charter School in Massachusetts and was a Managing Director of the Uncommon Schools, a non-profit charter management organization.
Ralph Martire: Ralph Martire is executive director of the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability. Mr. Martire teaches a Master’s level class on education finance and fiscal policy for the University of Illinois and Roosevelt University. He has received numerous awards for his work on education policy reform, including the 2007 Champion of Freedom Award, presented by the Rainbow PUSH Coalition to individuals whose professional work embodies Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.‘s, commitment to equal educational opportunities.
Matt Miller: Matt Miller is a weekly columnist for the Washington Post’s online edition, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, and the host of Left, Right & Center, public radio’s popular political week-in-review program. A former Clinton White House aide, Miller is also the author of “The 2 Percent Solution” ( 2003 ) and “The Tyranny of Dead Ideas” ( 2009 ), books which in part addressed issues of educational inequity. He consults to corporations and nonprofits on issues of strategy, policy and communications.
Marc Morial: As President of the National Urban League since 2003 he has been the primary catalyst for an era of change—a transformation for the 100 year old civil rights organization. His energetic and skilled leadership has expanded the League’s work around an Empowerment agenda, which is redefining civil rights in the 21st century with a renewed emphasis on closing the economic gaps between Whites and Blacks as well as rich and poor Americans.
Michael Rebell: Michael Rebell is a professor and executive director of The Campaign for Educational Equity, at Teachers College, Columbia University. He is also an adjunct professor of law at Columbia Law School. Previously, he was counsel for plaintiffs in Campaign for Fiscal Equity v. State of New York.
Ahniwake Rose: Ahniwake Rose ( Cherokee ) serves as a Policy Analyst for the National Congress of American Indians. Leading the Human Resources legislative team, Ms. Rose’s position encompasses addressing and leading national policy initiatives that serve to empower Tribes and Indian communities to improve their overall health and well-being. Ms. Rose’s portfolio includes health, education, nutrition, and child welfare. Prior to joining NCAI, Ms. Rose worked for the Department of Education as a consultant implementing Presidential Executive Order 13336, providing culturally appropriate education to Indian students through the No Child Left Behind Act.
Jesse Ruiz: Jesse Ruiz is a corporate and securities partner in the law firm of Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP, and since 2004, has served as Chairman of the Illinois State Board of Education. The Illinois State Board of Education oversees the operation of the state’s school system for 2.1 million students in grades Pre-K-12, and administers an $11.1 billion annual budget. Jesse also serves on the National Association of State Boards of Education ( NASBE ) Government Affairs Committee, and the National Association of Latino Elected/Appointed Officials ( NALEO ) Education Task Force.
Jim Ryan: Jim Ryan joined the faculty of the University of Virginia’s School of Law in 1998 after completing a two-year public interest fellowship in Newark, N.J. His scholarship focuses primarily on law and educational opportunity, and he has written a book on the topic, published by Oxford University Press and entitled “Five Miles Away, A World Apart”, and he has published numerous articles on school finance, school desegregation, school choice, school governance, a right to preschool and the No Child Left Behind Act, which have appeared in the leading law journals in the country.
Thomas Saenz: Thomas Saenz is the President and General Counsel of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund. Previously, as Counsel to Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Saenz helped to lead the legislative effort to change the governance of Los Angeles Unified School District. For nine years he has been a member of the appointed Los Angeles County Board of Education.
David Sciarra: David Sciarra is the Executive Director of the Education Law Center ( ELC ) in Newark, New Jersey. ELC works to improve educational opportunities and outcomes for low-income students, students of color, and students with special needs, through policy initiatives, action research, public engagement, and when necessary, legal action.
Robert Teranishi: Robert Teranishi is an Associate Professor of Higher Education at New York University and Co-Director for the Institute for Globalization and Education. Dr. Teranishi’s research is broadly focused on race, ethnicity, and the stratification of college opportunity. His work has been influential to federal, state, and institution policy related to college access and affordability.
Jacquelyn Thompson: Jacquelyn Thompson is the recently retired Director of the Office of Special Education and Early Intervention Services at the Michigan Department of Education. She is a Past President of the National Association of State Directors of Special Education as well as a former Coordinator of the Michigan Education Policy Fellowship Program.
Jose Torres: Jose Torres is the superintendent of School District U-46 in Elgin, Illinois. Previously, Torres served as area instructional officer in Chicago Public Schools, a district with 675 schools and over 430,000 students. Torres has also served as assistant superintendent of student support services for Anne Arundel County Public Schools in Maryland.
Dennis Van Roekel: Dennis Van Roekel, a 23-year teaching veteran, is the President of the National Education Association, the nation’s largest labor union and advocate for quality public schools. He has served two terms as NEA Vice President and NEA Secretary-Treasurer, and has held key positions in all levels of the Association, including Arizona Education Association President and Paradise Valley Education Association President. His accomplishments include dramatic increases in membership among teachers and education support professionals while president of the Arizona Education Association and a notable rise in voluntary political action committee contributions during his term.
Randi Weingarten: Randi Weingarten is president of the 1.5-million-member American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO, which represents teachers; paraprofessionals and school-related personnel; higher education faculty and staff; nurses and other healthcare professionals; local, state and federal employees; and early childhood educators. She was elected in July 2008, following 11 years of service as an AFT vice president.
Doris Williams: Doris Terry Williams is Executive Director of the Rural School and Community Trust. Williams guides the organization’s work with a network that has numbered more than 700 rural schools and communities in 35 states, connecting student work to local community development needs; strengthening the capacity of rural people to advocate for quality public education; and improving the climate for teaching and learning in rural places. Dr. Williams has more than 35 years of experience as an educator and education policy maker and was previously assistant dean and associate professor in the School of Education at North Carolina Central University.
The seven ex officio members of the commission are:
ED, Office for Civil Rights ( Assistant Secretary Russlynn Ali ).
ED, Deputy Secretary ( Deputy Secretary Tony Miller )
ED, Under Secretary ( Under Secretary Martha Kanter )
ED, General Counsel ( General Counsel Charlie Rose )
ED, Office of Policy ( Assistant Secretary Carmel Martin )
OMB, Education ( OMB Associate Director for Education, Income Maintenance and Labor Robert Gordon )
DPC, Education ( Special Assistant to the President, Domestic Policy Council Roberto Rodriguez )
The commission’s staff director is Stephen Chen, a 10-year career attorney within the headquarters of the Office for Civil Rights.