Draft GPUS Platform Amendment Education
[Note from Marnie: This section was originally in the Social Justice chapter combined with the arts. Both areas of policy are strengthened by separating them.]
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.
The failing report card of American education is troubling for almost every American. Who fails to see the connection between our investment in education and our success as a people? Who believes there is no relation between personal achievement and a quality education – an education that teaches creative and critical thinking skills and a respect for lifelong learning?
Access to quality education for all Americans is the difference that will lead to a strong and diverse community. Fundamental changes in our priorities are needed at the national and local levels, within the public and private sectors, in the classroom, and at home to make education our first priority.
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.
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 children’s 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 Leave No Child Behind Act must be repealed, especially the section that gives the military access to student records.