"A child's learning is the funtion more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Stand on This Platform

For those who insist that an alternative to genocide must be made explicit before calling for its end, here is a platform statement that has been around for some time. Which major candidate will make it her own?

Revitalize Public Education


Equalize School Funding with Federal Revenue Sharing: Federal financing of all public education (instead of by regressive local property taxes) so that every school has the resources it needs to provide the highest quality education for every child. Use a simple formula based on student population with adjustments based on need to help bring up school quality and student performance in poor communities.


Decentralized Administration: Cut through stifling centralized administration with site-based planning, policy-making, and management with participation by parents and teachers with release-time. Maintain central support staff for decentrally administered schools.


Class Size Reduction: Federal legislation and financing to reduce student-teacher ratios in classrooms to 15 to 1 in all public schools.


Preschool Programs: Federal legislation and financing for public schools to make available Head Start-type programs for pre-Kindergarten children starting at age 3.


After School Programs: Federal legislation and financing to make available after-school recreational and educational programs for all school age children.


Children's Health: Clinics in all schools to check eyes, teeth, and general health at all grade levels. Healthy food at breakfast, lunch, and after school programs. Birth control information at middle and high schools.


Improve Teacher Training and Pay: Improve the quality of teachers with support for career-long training. On-the-jobs apprenticeships for teachers-in-training. Teacher pay scales comparable to other professionals with similar education and responsibilities.


Multicultural Teaching Staffs: Strengthen affirmative action programs to recruit and support ethnic minorities to enter teaching at every level: teacher, aide, assistant, apprentice.


Tuition-Free Higher Education: Federal legislation and financing for tuition free education at public universities and technical schools for everyone who wants it.


Oppose the Privatization of Public Schools: We oppose all schemes for corporations to pursue private profits at the expense of public schools and schoolchildren.


No School Vouchers: No school vouchers from public budgets for private schools.


No For-Profit or Religious Charter Schools: Stop the diversion of public funds to for-profit corporations or religious organizations running charter schools with unaccountable administrations, uncertified teachers, and segregated student bodies.


No Commercialization: Stop turning school children into a captive market for commercial marketing interests with franchises that undermine democratic funding and accountability.


No High-Stakes Testing: Stop the curriculum takeover by commercial standardized test and test-prep corporations. Stop linking administrator and teacher pay and student graduation and retention to standardized test performance. Stop reducing education to answering multiple choice questions. Put teachers back in charge of ongoing, genuine assessment in the classroom.


Curriculum for a Multicultural Participatory Democracy:
We support a democratic public school curriculum that fosters curiosity, critical thinking, and free expression, that explicitly promotes democratic and egalitarian anti-racist, anti-sexist, and multicultural values, that replaces Eurocentric with multicultural textbooks and other curriculum materials, that does not sort children into academic and non-academic tracks, and that is academically rigorous with high expectations for all children.


Support Bilingual Education: Minority-language children with limited English proficiency must have instructional programs that build on their native language and culture while building English proficiency.

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