We have the right to demand more from our educational system. Education is a public good -- it should be owned by the public sector for the same reason that Social Security is: it is a universal human right.
The current educational system is failing us. Budgets cuts are dismantling our schools and paralyzing our educators. Class sizes are growing while resources are shrinking. And, as more and more programs get cut, students are left with fewer opportunities to explore and develop talents in areas such as the arts, music, physical education and world languages. Although the U.S. government spends about $10k per student, the U.S. public educational system ranks a dismal 14th among 34 of the most developed nations.
The situation is just as bleak for students who dream of going to college. The cost of tuition for a 4-year university education has risen 235% in the last 29 years for public universities. During the same time frame, the rise in the median family income rose by just 15%. Meanwhile, Pell Grants are shrinking while student loans are swelling, which means that the majority of students who want a higher education must go deep into debt. Today, the average tuition debt for a college graduate is $24k, which doesn't include the $12k credit card debt that college students accumulate in order to pay for basic needs like food, clothing and transportation.
This is where public education stands today under the two-party system. Unlike the band-aid solutions proposed by the Democrats and Republicans, we firmly believe that an entirely new educational model is possible. Privatization and charter schools are not the answer -- they are at the root of the problem.
What students need now is a fundamental overhaul of the educational system -- not band-aid solutions.
We propose an educational model of public ownership that puts education into the hands of the people and at the center of communities across the nation. This model transforms education into a rich, challenging and powerful experience for all. Our students will learn how to think critically, how to assess problems and how to develop creative solutions so that they can become active participants in a democratic society.
Our educational model will use public monies to fully fund high-quality education from age 3 through graduate school
Full and equal funding of public education and the restoration of a comprehensive K-12 curriculum, including art, music, world languages, and physical education
Comprehensive Early Childhood Education including free or low-cost childcare from birth to age three and high quality universal nursery and pre-k programs for 3 and 4 year olds. These programs will be staffed with highly qualified early childhood teachers and professionals.
An egalitarian educational system that accommodates a wide range of teaching and learning styles and provides all students with the means to obtain post-secondary education
Student, parent, and teacher control of curriculum formation, and in the hiring and dismissal procedures of school personnel through local school/community committees
Vigorous affirmative action programs so that the faculty and student-body of all schools reflect the community at large in terms of race/ethnicity, gender, and economic background
Opportunities for lifelong self-education, with retraining programs and transitional financial support for workers displaced by technological advances
Full funding for Adult Education - We pledge to keep the GED test under public control and administered free of charge. We support full funding for a variety of adult education and ESOL classes.
A fundamental shift will also occur inside the classroom. We reject the "drill and kill" model of learning developed by charter schools. This multiple-choice style of learning emphasizes small ideas -- and prohibits our educators from being creative inside the classroom. Instead, we call for a new type of classroom: a democratic classroom that empowers students to think critically, assess problems and develop creative solutions.
Under this model, schools will be run by educators not business people. Just as we would never accept a banker giving us medical care, we should never allow someone who has never stepped foot in a classroom to dictate what students should study -- and how educators should teach.
To enable these changes, we must fully promote and support the right of teachers to unionize, to collectively bargain and to run classes as they see fit. We must turn our schools into high-quality facilities that are rigorously maintained. And we must eliminate high-stakes standardized testing, which forces a one-size-fits-all approach that ignores the diversity of living conditions and personal experiences inherent among students.
Education can and will be rich, challenging and rewarding for students, families and educators across the nation. With systemic changes to our educational system, we can enable students to become active participants -- and leaders -- in a democratic society.
We will fund and create schools that are vibrant and linked to everyday life in the community. Schools will become the center points for whole communities, where students and their families gather to celebrate birthdays, have potlucks, play sports and engage with neighbors.