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Dean Edley to Co-Chair Department of Education Commission

By Andrew Cohen

Berkeley Law Dean Christopher Edley, Jr. has been named co-chair of the U.S. Department of Education’s Equity and Excellence Commission.

Edley is one of 28 education advocates, civil rights leaders, scholars, lawyers, and corporate leaders appointed by U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. He will help the commission examine the impact of school finance on educational opportunity and recommend ways the federal government can improve it to increase equity and achievement.

The commission will send its report to Duncan and Congress.

The report will summarize findings on the cost of providing a quality education in different geographic areas and for students with various special needs. It will also examine disparities in funding levels within and among states.

The Department of Education formed the commission in response to a congressional request in the fiscal year 2010 Consolidated Appropriations Act. It met for the first time in public Feb. 22 in Washington, D.C. to discuss the scope of its work, outreach efforts, and a timetable for completing its report. The commission will hold other public meetings and at least four town hall meetings across the country to discuss the causes and effects of school finance disparities.

Edley, Berkeley Law’s dean since 2004, held White House policy positions under Presidents Carter and Clinton and served on the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. A law professor at Harvard for 23 years, he co-founded Harvard’s Civil Rights Project and Berkeley Law’s Chief Justice Earl Warren Institute on Race, Ethnicity and Diversity.

Edley will co-chair the commission with Reed Hastings, who co-founded Netflix in 1997, is an active educational philanthropist and board member of many nonprofits, and was president of the California State Board of Education from 2000 to 2004.