Uniting to Save Our Schools

Platform for Public Education 

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Uniting to Save Our Schools
Platform Preamble

 

Every individual should be guaranteed a high quality, free, and equitable public education. The fact that this has not been realized is a direct reflection of the broader social, political, and economic ills that plague our society, and an economic system based upon profit rather than human needs and human rights. In order to transform public education, we must work to eliminate all forms of human exploitation, including systemic racism, as well as existing inequities in healthcare, housing, jobs, food security, and the environment. The corporate agenda controls the nation's two- party system and drives critical decisions that determine the nature of public education. Corporate profit and greed also drive enormous military budgets and war spending resulting in diminished resources being allocated to public education. Creating a public education system that is equitable, democratic, humane, and nurturing will require fundamental changes to the institutions of power and wealth that benefit the few at the expense of the many.

 

All public schools should be environments where everyone can begin to realize their full human potential and work together to envision and create a more just and equitable, democratic society. Schools must be responsive to student creativity, foster a sense of care and responsibility for oneself and others, and cultivate a desire to critique and act upon inequities. This requires a fully funded public education system in which professional educators receive the respect and support they deserve. While many educators currently engage their students in active, meaningful learning, our struggle to transform the education system cannot be divorced from the larger struggle to dismantle the structural, systemic forces that undermine a just and equitable democracy.

 

The Uniting to Save Our Schools Platform for Public Education reflects our vision of what public education and our larger society can and should be, and it provides support to educators, activists, and communities who are working together to transform public education, defend the health of our planet, and protect the basic human rights of our students, families, and communities.

 

We look forward to updating this living document with our partners and members as new issues and concerns arise. 

 

Uniting to Save Our Schools Stands For:

 

❖Public Education as a Human and Civil Right

 

❖Fair and Equitable Funding for Public Education

 

❖Safe, Socially and Racially Just Public Schools

 

❖Strong School Communities and Families

 

❖Educator and Community Leadership

 

❖Professional, Diverse Educators in Every School

 

❖Engaging and Comprehensive Classroom Instruction for Every Student

 

❖An End to Mandated Standardized Testing

 

 

 

 

 

 

UNITING TO SAVE OUR SCHOOLS

PLATFORM FOR PUBLIC EDUCATION

 

Uniting to Save Our Schools Stands For:

 

1. Public Education as a Human and Civil Right

 

● Support the global human right to free, safe, and accessible public education with fair compensation for educators.

 

● Guarantee a free, PreK-16 public education for all.

 

● Ensure access to an equitably funded PreK-16 public education for all, regardless of zip code, income, race and/or ethnicity, ability, or language.

 

● Provide access to free, universal, licensed childcare and pre-K education.

 

● Fully fund and support community-led “Community School” initiatives.

 

● Provide full funding for career development and vocational education programs accessible to every student.

 

● Provide an educational environment for all students that is responsive to their interests and curiosities, and encourages lifelong learning and civic engagement.

 

2. Fair and Equitable Funding for Public Education

 

● Institute an equitable, national school funding formula based upon need rather than local property tax revenue.

 

● Support initiatives that keep public funding inside public education; ensure that there is no public funding of privately managed charter schools and religious schools.

 

● Protect and expand federal Title I funding to students and schools of high need.

 

● Divert fund from police department budgets to support wrap around community services for schools and families. 

 

● Divert federal funding for the military, weapons, and nuclear industry to  funding for public education; end contracts between the U.S. military and public education.

 

● Create participatory budgeting models at the local level guaranteeing the right of participation of low income and communities of color in decisions regarding where educational funds are spent.

 

● Ensure that the federal government collects data on and provides oversight regarding the equitable distribution of local and state funding.

 

● Demand that children in every public school are taught by state certified, licensed educators who have completed college/university educator preparation programs.

 

● Increase local and federal funding for school communities that equitably addresses locally determined needs (such as programs that support wrap-around services, counseling, special education, English language learners, two-way bilingual programs, etc.).

 

● Institute equitable funding for ecologically-sound school building infrastructure that ensures safe and humane conditions for students and staff.

 

● Provide school loan forgiveness to all current and former students of public colleges, universities, and trade schools.

 

● Provide guidelines so that students in every community have access to school media centers, fine arts, physical education, recess, and safe playgrounds.

 

3. Safe, Socially and Racially Just Public Schools

 

● Eliminate School Resource Officers (SROs) and other police presence in schools and replace them with peacekeepers who are experts in de-escalation and antiracist conflict resolution. 

● Utilize community-based decision making to institute school zoning policies and attendance boundaries that ensure fair, fully inclusive, and accessible schools for all.

 

● Create racially, economically, and socio-culturally just discipline policies that are also responsive to dis/abled communities (such as Restorative and Transformative Justice).

 

● Designate all schools as sanctuaries for immigrant students and families.

 

● Provide professional learning for all educators on culturally responsive teaching that protects the rights of students with marginalized identities (such as racially/ethnically/linguistically diverse students, indigenous students, LGBTQIA students, dis/abled students, etc.).

 

● Protect the rights of LGBTQIA students and faculty to gender inclusive school facilities and activities.

 

● Provide equitable access for all students to the full array of academic classes (Advanced Placement, honors classes, etc.), as well as co-curricular/extracurricular activities (including sports, arts, clubs, etc.).

 

● Ensure free bus transportation for all students to allow for participation in co- curricular/extracurricular activities.

 

● Provide free nutritious meals and snacks for every student regardless of family income.

 

● Foster and support a sense of community within schools in order to create safe, socially and emotionally supportive environments for both students and adults.

 

● Make schools safe havens from exploitive, outside interests (including corporate advertising, military influence, data mining, testing corporations).

 

4. Strong School Communities and Families

 

● Ensure full employment with livable wages and benefits for all workers.

 

● Provide free, comprehensive medical, dental, and psychological healthcare for all students, educators, and families.

 

● Ensure safe, secure communities for immigrant/refugee students and families; end ICE raids.

 

● Provide safe and secure housing for every community member at all income levels.

 

● Ensure racially and socially just, community controlled public safety practices and resident-elected civilian review boards.

 

● Demilitarize state and local law enforcement and divert funds to community services. 

● End racist mass incarceration of adults and children that separates families and adversely impacts the emotional and physical health of communities.

 

● Support local, family owned, and racially diverse businesses with transparent contracting practices open to community review.

 

● Provide safe recreational spaces, neighborhood libraries, and neighborhood centers for students and community members.

 

● Provide access for all to safe and healthy food within every community.

 

● Free public transportation in every community.

 

5. Educator and Community Leadership

 

● Ensure community involvement in the selection and hiring of superintendents and other high-level school system administrators and leaders.

 

● Establish democratically elected school boards for every school district.

 

● Institute policies that ensure meaningful community involvement in school governance.

 

● End corporate influence over public school laws, curriculum, and policies.

 

● Establish procedures that ensure community input into curriculum and assessment policies and practices.

 

● Recruit educators of color to serve in leadership positions within schools and school systems.

 

● Create meaningful, on-going, family-school partnerships.

 

6. Professional, Diverse Educators in Every School

 

● Protect collective bargaining rights; oppose “right to work” laws.

 

● End private, fast-track teacher licensure programs (like TFA).

 

● Protect accredited, university-based, teacher preparation programs.

 

● Ensure state and district funding to recruit, prepare, and retain teachers of color.

 

● Require that professional educator preparation programs be grounded in  teaching and learning that opposes systemic injustice on the basis of race, class, ability, and gender. 

● Increase federal funding to support teacher education programs for students of color, including Black and Hispanic serving colleges and universities.

 

● Provide financial incentives and loan forgiveness to encourage student enrollment in educator preparation programs.

 

● Institute peer-led mentorship and internship programs to support, encourage, and protect teachers of color.

 

● Support current and emerging social and racial justice caucuses of local teacher unions

 

● Ensure that educator salaries are comparable to salaries of other professional careers

 

7. Engaging and Comprehensive Classroom Instruction for Every Student

 

● Provide locally developed, child-centered, culturally appropriate curriculum for all K-12 students.

 

● Ensure class size limits that foster caring, democratic classrooms.

 

● Protect multicultural/multilingual and ethnic studies programs.

 

● Remove political, corporate, and media influences over curriculum and instruction in areas such as literacy and early childhood education. 

● Provide well-rounded programs, including art, music, library/media skills, physical education, and technology.

 

● Institute environmental education programs that provide scientifically-based information on climate change, global warming, and strategies for protecting and defending the earth’s resources.

 

● End computer-driven, Competency Based Education and technology- dependent instruction that increases screen time and reduces social classroom interaction.

 

● Provide career development and vocational education opportunities available to every student.

 

● Institute Black and Ethnic studies as a course requirement for high school graduation.

 

● Require that culturally relevant, decolonized curriculum be be provided  throughout K-16 education and that it be taught by educators with expertise in ethnic studies. 

 

8. An End to Mandated Standardized Testing

 

● Develop local, culturally responsive, child-centered assessments to support instruction.

 

● Implement a reciprocal accountability framework that holds policymakers and state and federal legislators responsible for providing the necessary resources and supports that ensure the success of high-needs schools.

 

● End test-based, public school closures and take-overs.

 

● Protect parental rights to opt-out of standardized testing and student data collection.

 

● Require informed parental/guardian consent forms for children to be subjected to standardized testing or military recruitment.

 

● End test-based evaluation of teachers and teacher preparation programs.

 

● Oppose media publication of school standardized test performance that perpetuates biases against low-scoring/low income schools and neighborhoods.

 

● Invest in school funding to eliminate “opportunity gaps” rather than test-based “achievement gaps”.

 

● Eliminate standardized test-based tracking of students into homogenous classes (Gifted and Talented, Advanced Placement, etc.).

 

● Pursue equitable alternatives to race and class based academic tracking at all levels of education, including at the post-secondary level. This would include Gifted and Talented Education, Advanced Placement Programs, and Honors Programs.

 

● Prohibit tests such as the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) that divulge personal information to military recruiters.

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Uniting to create a public education system that is equitable, democratic, humane, and nurturing.

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