Draft GPUS Platform Amendment Education
Section title: Education
Section subtitle: A good education for all Americans
Our position: Greens support equal access to high-quality education, and sharp increases in financial aid for college students.
A great challenge facing the people of the United States is to educate ourselves and our children to build a sustainable, humane and democratic future and to become responsible and effective citizens of the local and global communities we share. We believe our public school system, as it presently operates, does not help us reach that goal.
Every child deserves a superb public education that fosters critical and independent thought, and provides the breadth and depth of learning necessary to become an active citizen and a constructive member of our society.
In general, we expect too little from our students, teachers and schools. We must teach our children and teenagers to be leaders, and challenge them with difficult material in literature, philosophy, history, music, art and economics.
Our public schools perpetuate structures and habits of domination by requiring students to work for extrinsic rewards. They stigmatize as "losers" all but the "best" students. By fragmenting knowledge, the schools alienate students from a holistic world. They reinforce the mass media's injunction to consume rather than to create.
Greens believe in education, not indoctrination. We do not think schools should turn our children into servile students, employees, consumers or citizens. We think it is very important to teach children how to ask good questions.
We must stop disinvesting in education, and start putting education at the top of our social and economic agenda. Effective schools have sufficient resources. Too many of our teachers are overworked, underpaid, and starved of key materials. We must be more generous to our schools, so that our children will learn what generosity is, and know enough to be able to be generous to us in return.
A quarter century of generous corporate funding from the likes of the Bradley and Wal-Mart Family Foundations and a decade of No Child Left Behind have given birth to a vast, well-endowed and lucrative sector which seeks to dismantle, privatize, or militarize public education, and destroy teachers unions. Regimes of high stakes testing and the wholesale diversion of resources away from public schools are provoking crises for which the bipartisan corporate consensus recommends Chicago-style school closings or the Katrina-style dissolution of entire school districts and their replacement by selective, unaccountable and often highly profitable charter schools. The Green Party is unalterably opposed to the dissolution of public schools and the privatization of education. We believe that the best educational experience is guaranteed by the democratic empowerment of organized students, their parents and communities along with organized teachers.
Greens view learning as a lifelong and life-affirming process to which all people should have access. We cannot state more forcefully our belief that in learning, and openness to learning, we find the foundation of our Platform.
1. Eliminate gross inequalities in school funding by adjusting educational funding formulas at the state level.
2. Provide free college tuition to all qualified students at public universities and vocational schools.
3. Oppose the administration of public schools by private, for-profit entities.
4. Increase funding for after-school programs for “latchkey” children.
5. Provide state funding for day care that includes school children under the age of ten when after-school programs are not available.
6. Give classroom teachers at the elementary and high school levels professional status and salaries comparable to related professions requiring advanced education, training and responsibility.
7. Purchase and use computers only when they are instructive, and not merely to benefit computer hardware or software companies.
8. Teach non-violent conflict resolution and humane education at all levels of education.
9. Encourage a diverse set of educational opportunities, including bi-lingual education, continuing education, job retraining, mentoring and apprenticeship programs.
10. Prohibit advertising to children in schools. Corporations should not be allowed to use the schools as vehicles for commercial advertising or corporate propaganda. Schools must safeguard students’ privacy rights and not make private student information available on corporate (or federal government) request.
11. Provide healthy school meals that are rich in vitamins, minerals, protein and fiber, and offer plant-based vegetarian options. Support Farm-to-School programs that provide food from local family farms and exchange of educational opportunities.
12. Ban the sale of soda pop and junk food in schools. Junk food is defined as food or beverages that are relatively high in saturated or trans fat, added sugars or salt, and relatively low in vitamins, minerals, protein and fiber.
13. Oppose military and corporate control over the priorities and topics of university academic research.
14. Expand opportunities for universal higher education and life-long learning.
15. Make student loans available to all college students, with forgiveness for graduates who choose public service occupations.
16. The "No Child Left Behind" Act must be revised, eliminating state-wide norm-referenced standardized testing in favor of criterion-referenced testing while allowing multiple ways for children to show what they have learned from a rich challenging curriculum. The section that gives the military access to student records should be eliminated.
17. Include a vigorous and engrossing civics curriculum in later elementary and secondary schools, to teach students to be active citizens.
18. Increase students' responsibilities to control and direct their own education and schools. Greens strongly support the empowerment of individuals and therefore we support each student recognizing his or her own personal responsibility - to strive to achieve their fullest potential as individuals.
19. Set 18 years of age as the absolute minimum age for military recruitment.
20. Require the U.S. military to provide to each individual recruit a full written disclosure of what is expected of them and what they can expect in return from the government. We demand that the practice of deceiving prospective service recruits about the truth of their service contract be recognized as a fraudulent practice and sufficient grounds for revoking an enlistment contract. Current practices holding individuals legally to all the terms of their military service contract should also apply to the government.
21. End the militarization of our schools. JROTC programs are an expensive drain on our limited educational resources and a diversion from their important mission to prepare our young to assume their role in a peaceful tomorrow. ASVAB testing is being used to mine public school student bodies for data to support military recruiting. The Pentagon’s recruiting commands are misdirecting public tax dollars on manipulative campaigns that prey on our young. We insist that local education authorities stand up to these destructive practices.
22. Expand arts education and physical education opportunities at school.
2004 PLATFORM ON EDUCATION
Greens support educational diversity. We hold no dogma absolute, continually striving for truth in the realm of ideas. We open ourselves, consciously and intuitively, to truth and beauty in the world of nature. We view learning as a lifelong process to which all people have an equal right.
Education starts with choice, and within public education we believe in broad choices. Magnet schools, Site-based Management, Schools within Schools, alternative models, and parental involvement are ways in which elementary education can be changed to make a real difference in the lives of our children. Curricula should focus on skills – both basic skills that serve as a solid foundation for higher learning, and exploratory approaches that expand horizons, such as distance learning, interactive education, computer proficiency, perspectives that bring an enriched awareness of nature (biological literacy), intercultural experiences, and languages.
Greens view learning as a lifelong and life-affirming process. In learning, and openness to learning, we create the foundation of our platform.
a. We advocate creative and noncompetitive education at every age level, and the inclusion of cultural diversity in all curricula. We encourage hands-on approaches that promote a multitude of individual learning styles.
b. Parental responsibility should be encouraged by supporting parenting, as more families confront economic conditions that demand more time be spent away from home. Parents should be as involved as possible in their childrens' education; values do start with parents. Teaching human sexuality is a parental and school responsibility.
c. Student responsibility is a key to developing capabilities. Greens hold strongly to the empowerment of individuals. Students should recognize their own personal responsibilities and strive to achieve their fullest potential as individuals.
d. Federal policy on education should act principally to ensure equal access to a quality education.
e. Educational funding formulas at the state level need to be adjusted as needed to avoid gross inequalities between districts and schools. Educational grants should provide balance to ensure equal educational access for minority, deprived, special needs, and exceptional children. In higher education, federal college scholarship aid should be increased and offered to any qualified student.
f. Our teachers are underpaid, overworked and rarely supplied with the resources necessary to do their work. It is time to stop disinvesting in education, and start placing it at the top of our social and economic agenda.
g. We call for equitable state and national funding for education and the creation of schools controlled by parent-teacher governing bodies.
h. We oppose vouchers, or any scheme that will transfer money out of the public school system. That course only leads to a separate and unequal educational system. We also oppose charter schools or the administration of public schools by private, for-profit entities.
i. We support after-school programs for “latchkey” children.
j. We advocate state funding for day care that includes school children under the age of ten when after-school programs are not available.
k. Classroom teachers at the elementary and high school levels should be given professional status and salaries comparable to related professions requiring advanced education, training and responsibility.
l. Principals are also essential components in effective educational institutions. We encourage state Departments of Education and school boards to deliver more programmatic support and decision-making to the true grassroots level- the classroom teacher and school principal.
m. Use of computers in the early grades should not supplant the development of basic interpersonal, perceptual, and motor skills as a foundation for learning.
n. Dispute resolution is an important part of resolving classroom or after-school disputes, and a life skill that all children should learn. We call for the teaching of non-violent conflict resolution at all levels of education.
o. We recognize the viable alternative of home-based education.
p. We support a host of innovative and critical educational efforts, such as bi-lingual education, continuing education, job retraining, mentoring and apprenticeship programs.
q. We are deeply concerned about the intervention in our schools of corporations that promote a culture of consumption and waste. Schools should not be vehicles for commercial advertising. Schools must safeguard students’ privacy rights and not make private student information available on corporate (or federal government) request.
r. Within higher education, we oppose military and corporate control over the priorities and topics of academic research.
s. We support tuition-free post secondary (collegiate and vocational) public education.
t. In an economy that demands higher skills and a democracy that depends on an informed, educated electorate, opportunities for universal higher education and life-long learning must be vastly expanded.
u. Until tuition-free schooling is available to all, student loans should be available to all students attending college, and should be repayable as a proportion of future earnings rather than at a fixed rate.
v. Individualized training accounts should be made available to students who choose to pursue vocational and continuing education.
w. The "No Child Left Behind" Act must be revised, eliminating standardized testing while allowing multiple ways for children to show what they have learned from a rich challenging curriculum. The section that gives the military access to student records should be eliminated.