It also recommended more spending on preschool, to ensure that all low-income children can attend high-quality programs. Only 65 percent of low-income 4-year-olds attend preschool, and many preschools offer only low-quality programs. In his State of the Union speech last week, President Barack Obama said public preschool should become available to all low- and moderate-income 4-year-olds.
The commission offered no estimates of the costs of many of its recommendations.
Its report was the result of more than two years of meetings around the country with scholars, education advocates, teachers and parents. It held town halls in Kansas City, Mo., Dallas and other cities.
“Through much debate and deliberation, this report presents a blueprint for how to guarantee that each child has a fair shot at the American dream,” Linda Darling-Hammond, a professor of education at Stanford University who’s a member of the commission, said in a statement.
Education Secretary Arne Duncan, who was on the conference call, said the commission was independent. “We asked them to tell us not what we wanted to hear,” he said, “but to tell us the truth.”
During the call, Darling-Hammond said California was a microcosm for school financing problems nationwide. The districts that spend the most per pupil spend four times as much as those that spend the least, she said.
California Gov. Jerry Brown’s budget proposal for next year calls for directing more money to districts with many low-income students and English-language learners.
“I hope that’s a sign of what we’re going to see in other states,” Darling-Hammond said. “And the federal government can incentivize that by the way it allocates federal funds.”