Equity & Access

The welfare of our nation rests heavily upon our system of public education. Throughout America’s history, we have striven to provide all children with equal access to a high-quality, free public education because we know that without it, our democratic way of life will be at peril. Indeed, it is our democratic system of governing, based upon the twin pillars of individual rights and civic responsibilities, which requires that we have a system of public education.

We continue to fall short of this most basic democratic commitment. We do not ensure that every child in this nation has equal access to a high-quality education. And even though we have made great strides, we have work to do before this task is complete.

To that end, The Forum believes:

  1. A high-quality public education is a civil right that should be made available to all people on equal terms.
  2. All children deserve a well-prepared and supported teacher who knows his or her content area and how to teach it well.
  3. All children deserve access to an educational experience that fully and intentionally prepares them for the challenges and opportunities of democratic life.
  4. We cannot demand equal outcomes from schools without equalizing the resources they provide. Therefore, a central role of the federal government must be to ensure that all schools are funded equitably.
  5. The shared mission of our schools should be to end the predictive value of race, class, gender and special capacities on student success by working together with families and communities to ensure each individual student's success.
  6. Instead of thinking of educational inequities as an achievement gap, we should view them as an education debt. This term references our country’s historic inequities in educational and economic opportunities, and invites us to think about how all of us, as members of a democratic society, are implicated in creating  -- and addressing -- these achievement disparities.
  7. To reduce the education debt, schools cannot work in isolation. Alongside our efforts to improve the in-school learning conditions for students, we must also address the powerful impact that out-of-school factors have on student achievement, such as the role of parenting, the availability of health care, and the challenges of poverty.
  8. All schools should demonstrate non-discriminatory and inclusive policies, practices and pedagogies. Schools should honor diversity and build on the strength of their communities, deliberately and explicitly challenging all forms of inequity.