Draft GPUS Platform Amendment Education
Section title: Education
Section subtitle: A good education for all students
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 to build a just, sustainable, humane and democratic future, and to become responsible and effective citizens of the local and global communities we share. Greens believe evey child deserves a public education that fosters critical and holistic thought, and provides the breadth and depth of learning necessary to become an active citizen and a constructive member of our society. We do not believe our public school system, as it presently operates, helps us reach that goal.
Greens are strongly 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.
We must stop disinvesting in education, and instead put it 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 also 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.
Greens believe in education, not indoctrination. We do not think that schools should turn our children into servile students, employees, consumers or citizens. We believe it is very important to teach our children how to ask good questions.
Unfortunately, we often expect too little from our students, teachers and schools. We must teach our children and teenagers to be leaders, and challenge them with great works of literature, economics, philosophy, history, music, and the arts.
We also call attention to the results of a quarter century of corporate funding from the likes of the Bradley and Wal-Mart Family Foundations and a decade of No Child Left Behind - 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 unaccountable, profit-based charter schools.
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. Federal policy on education should act principally to provide equal access to a quality education.
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 and daycare programs.
5. Promote a diverse set of educational opportunities, including bi-lingual education, continuing education, job retraining, distance learning, mentoring and apprenticeship programs.
6. Give K-12 classroom teachers professional status and salaries commensurate with 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.
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 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. End the over-use of high-stakes standardized testing. Amend the "No Child Left Behind" Act to eliminate state-wide norm-referenced standardized testing in favor of criterion-referenced testing.
17. Include a vigorous and engrossing civics curriculum in later elementary and secondary schools, to teach students to be active citizens.
18. Increase students' and parents' responsibilities to control and direct their own education and schools.
19. Expand arts education and physical education opportunities at school.
20. Recognize the viable alternative of home-based education.
21. Oppose efforts to restrict the teaching of scientific information and the portrayal of religious belief as fact.
22. Provide adequate academic and vocational education and training to prisoners.
23. End the militarization of our schools and the expensive JROTC drain on our limited resources. Stop the ASVAB testing used to mine public schools for military recruiting. Forbid military access to student records. Set 18 years of age as the absolute minimum age for military recruitment.
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.