U.S. Department of Education Focuses on Equity

Last month, the U.S. Department of Education held the first installment of its Equity Summit Series, “Building Equitable Learning Environments in Our Schools.” The program featured First Lady Jill Biden, Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona, Deputy Secretary Cindy Marten, leaders and educators from across the country, and student performances.

During the summit, participants highlighted the administration’s commitment to advancing equity in school reopening, recovery, and long-term investments in education, including the American Rescue Plan, the American Families Plan, and the FY2022 budget, which it is claimed will more than double funding for Title I schools through new equity grants designed to incentivize states to address inequitable school funding systems.

“Many of us have come from low-income backgrounds, faced adversity and challenges, but we used education to improve our lives, so we know it’s possible. The real challenge that we face is how do we make that happen for more kids, and while the pandemic set us back, there’s no reason why we have to stay back.

If we can think holistically about the needs of children, and recognize how their social, emotional, and psychological needs are related to their academic and intellectual, there’s no reason why we can’t produce better outcomes for all kinds of children across the country, and this should not be a controversial issue. This is really at the core of why we have public education,” commented Pedro Noguera, dean of USC Rossier School of Education.

First Lady Jill Biden highlighted English learners in her comment: “For many years schools across the country have grappled with issues of inequity, especially our students of color, those from low-income homes, students with disabilities, and English language learners. As we recover from this pandemic, it’s on all of us to ensure we don’t return to the same broken systems of the past, but build back better than before. And that’s exactly what our administration is committed to doing.”

Equity in education is about providing all students, from all backgrounds and all parts of the country, with the resources and supports that they need to succeed and thrive in our society. It’s about providing them pathways to contribute to their communities and to make the world a better place.

Equity is not a passing buzzword but an ongoing, continuous effort to make sure that every student feels supported in their classrooms and in every educational environment. That’s why this summit isn’t a one-time event for us—but something that will be infused in all of our work at the department and across the administration for the next four years,” stressed U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona.

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