U.S. Education Secretary Launches Education Campaign at Fremont High School
By Alia Wilson
Fremont High School basked in the national limelight this week as it hosted U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Congressman Mike Honda (D-San Jose) for the launch of the Each and Every Child nationwide education campaign on May 1.
It was standing room only in the Shannon Theatre on campus, where more than 170 educators, school administrators and students gathered to hear Duncan, Honda and members of the Equity and Excellence Commission discuss the commission's report released in February.
Since 2011, the 27-member commission meticulously developed recommendations for the secretary on the disparities in educational opportunities and ways in which federal policies could be addressing them.
The report is broken down into five categories: improving school finance and efficiency; teaching, leading and learning opportunities; insuring access to high-quality early childhood education; meeting the needs of students in high-poverty communities; and governance and accountability to improve equity and excellence.
"This school reflects, I think, the best of the United States," Duncan said of Fremont High. "It's incredibly diverse, with many first- generation college-goers, many who are new to the country who are chasing the American Dream and a high-quality education; those two things are inextricably linked."
The comment received a roar of applause from the audience, made up of a fair number of Fremont staff and students. While Fremont performs competitively compared to most schools in the state, it tends to be overlooked next to nationally renowned sister schools such as Lynbrook and Monta Vista.
"The challenges that face our nation are reflected in the faces of our students who come from very diverse cultural, ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds," Fremont High principal Bryan Emmert said. "Over 60 different languages are spoken in the homes of Fremont students and 40 percent of our student body participates in the free and reduced lunch program.
"And yet, in the midst of the challenges are profound blessings and our dedication to excellence is unwavering."
Commissioner Linda Darling-Hammond, the Charles E. Ducommun professor of education at Stanford University, praised Fremont High's dedication to the training of its teachers.
One of the commission's recommendations includes ensuring teachers have the knowledge and resources to develop strategies and differentiate instruction to meet the needs of each student and accelerate student improvement.
"This is a school that has really devoted itself to some of the things in this report," Darling-Hammond said. "It's a school that's been devoted both to equitable education progress and to the training of teachers. Fremont was the first school that when I came to Stanford became a professional development school partner with us to bring schools and universities together to train teachers well."
Commissioners agreed that in order to achieve such recommendations, the federal government "must take more seriously its profoundly important responsibility to assist and encourage states and districts and, if necessary, ameliorate resulting inequities," the report reads.
Duncan hailed the report as a call to action that has and will continue to shape his and the president's thinking.
"We have to maintain that mantra, each and every child has the right to equity in education," Honda said. "I think this is the first step a national public dialogue where public opinion can drive public institution."
To view the report in its entirety, visit www2.ed.gov/about/bdscomm/list/eec/index.html.