Education - Equal Access of High-Quality
We should 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.
We should believe every 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. Our public school system, as it presently operates, helps us reach that goal.
Today, America’s public school system faces a different set of challenges. For the first time in this country’s history, students of color represent the majority of the PK-12 public education student body. Additionally, now more than half of all school children are classified as “low income.” Even more critical is the fact that now nearly 35 percent of all public school students have some specific learning disability and are receiving special education services.
Given these factors, in order for America’s schools to truly become effective in teaching our students to think critically and to respond to life challenges, districts, schools and teachers must develop a new consciousness toward students that includes cultural competency, the understanding of the impact of poverty on school performance, asset-based engagement and how to create stable, nurturing school environments that will help students thrive and succeed.
Therefore, we should work toward:
Dismantling white supremacy in our schools, represented in curricula, discipline, teacher recruitment and more, by seeking to end the school-to-jailhouse track
Free teachers from requirements to use exclusively Common Core Standards-aligned materials, which neglects the contributions and struggles of people of color. Teachers should be free to choose whichever materials are academically-challenging and culturally appropriate for their students.
Strengthen cultural competency requirements for teachers. Provide robust professional development in cultural competency, and widen the scope of teacher preparation to include cultural competency training.
End alternative teacher licensing initiatives, such as Teach for America, which recruit primarily white teachers and inject them into urban classrooms with as little as five weeks’ training and only a two-year commitment, creating great destabilization in school communities that need consistent leadership and community connections.
Incentivize "grow your own teacher" programs in oppressed communities with targeted recruitment during high school, federal grants and loan forgiveness and mentoring.
Invest more resources into recruiting fully bilingual school support staff, such as front-office and family resource personnel and counselors.
Eliminate police officers from our schools. Ensure school security personnel are trained for, and held accountable to, conflict resolution techniques and anti-bias training. Security personnel should also demonstrate cultural competency and refrain from enforcing white supremacist oppressive tactics.
Recognize the impact of poverty on student achievement, which no amount of sanctions, standards, turnarounds, teacher targeting or privatization will fix. Implement strategies such as wraparound services and more to support students in poverty.
Eradicate the vestiges of structural racism represented through police violence, incarceration, school suspension and dropout rates, inequitable school funding and use of schemes like "student-based budgeting," behavior policies based on "no excuses," "character education" and "grit," and school closures.