March 2, 2011 — James E. Ryan, who directs the University of Virginia Law School's Program in Law and Public Service, has been appointed to the U.S. Department of Education's Equity and Excellence Commission.
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan recently announced the appointment of 28 education advocates, civil rights leaders, scholars, lawyers and corporate leaders to the commission. The group will examine the impact of school finance on educational opportunity and recommend ways school finance can be improved to increase equity and achievement.
Ryan joined the Law School faculty in 1998 after completing a two-year public interest fellowship in Newark, N.J. He is the William L. Matheson & Robert M. Morgenthau Distinguished Professor of Law and F. Palmer Weber Research Professor of Civil Liberties and Human Rights.
His scholarship focuses on law and educational opportunity, and he has written a book on the topic, "Five Miles Away, A World Apart." He has published articles on school finance, school desegregation, school choice, school governance, a right to preschool and the No Child Left Behind Act, which have appeared in the leading law journals in the country.
The commission will examine the disparities in meaningful educational opportunities that give rise to the achievement gap, with a focus on systems of finance, and recommend ways in which federal policies could address such disparities. The commission will also recommend ways to restructure school finance systems to achieve equity in the distribution of educational resources and further student achievement and attainment. The department formed the commission in response to a congressional request included in the fiscal year 2010 Consolidated Appropriations Act.