June 22, 2003
The Greens—Revitalize Public Education

(See this post for background on this series.)

Equalize School Funding with Federal Revenue Sharing: Federal financing of all public education (instead of by regressive local property taxes) so that every school has the resources it needs to provide the highest quality education for every child. Use a simple formula based on student population with adjustments based on need to help bring up school quality and student performance in poor communities.

Well, first off, you're going to need a constitutional amendment for that.

How are property taxes regressive? The poorest people (renters) don't pay a dime in property taxes. The wealthiest pay the highest amount.

Spending and achievement are not linked. States such as Iowa and Montana spend very little per student, yet their pupils are consistently among the best educated. The District of Columbia, on the other hand, spends 61% more per student, yet only 28% of their fourth graders can read at grade level. If funding were the issue, then Hawaii (with its statewide school district) and Florida (with countywide districts) would have far less variation in performance.

Decentralized Administration: Cut through stifling centralized administration with site-based planning, policy-making, and management with participation by parents and teachers with release-time. Maintain central support staff for decentrally administered schools.

There it is again, the bizarre Green fetish for Federal funding and local control. Why not let the local districts handle the whole thing? We can then get rid of the wasteful and inefficient Department of Education.

Class Size Reduction: Federal legislation and financing to reduce student-teacher ratios in classrooms to 15 to 1 in all public schools.

This is another popular myth; repeated studies have shown no link between classroom size and student performance.

Preschool Programs: Federal legislation and financing for public schools to make available Head Start-type programs for pre-Kindergarten children starting at age 3.

Head Start has shown little long-term effectiveness (the benefits disappear after grade 3 or 4); expanding it provides no sense.

After School Programs: Federal legislation and financing to make available after-school recreational and educational programs for all school age children.

This makes sense from a safety standpoint; supervised children as less likely to get into trouble or danger.

Children's Health: Clinics in all schools to check eyes, teeth, and general health at all grade levels. Healthy food at breakfast, lunch, and after school programs. Birth control information at middle and high schools.

Birth control information in Middle School? I don't think so. Nor do I support dispensing birth control products at any school level.

Improve Teacher Training and Pay: Improve the quality of teachers with support for career-long training. On-the-jobs apprenticeships for teachers-in-training. Teacher pay scales comparable to other professionals with similar education and responsibilities.

Teachers are not underpaid at the lower end of the pay spectrum, nor are they underpaid when compared with people of similar education and responsibilities. Teachers are NOT professionals; they do not have credentials, and they cannot lose their certification to teach, for malpractice.

Multicultural Teaching Staffs: Strengthen affirmative action programs to recruit and support ethnic minorities to enter teaching at every level: teacher, aide, assistant, apprentice.

Let's worry about hiring COMPETENT teachers, rather than worry about the ethnic composition of the staff.

Tuition-Free Higher Education: Federal legislation and financing for tuition free education at public universities and technical schools for everyone who wants it.

This was discussed earlier. We will create legions of overeducated people with useless degrees.

Oppose the Privatization of Public Schools: We oppose all schemes for corporations to pursue private profits at the expense of public schools and schoolchildren. ·No School Vouchers: No school vouchers from public budgets for private schools. ·No For-Profit or Religious Charter Schools: Stop the diversion of public funds to for-profit corporations or religious organizations running charter schools with unaccountable administrations, uncertified teachers, and segregated student bodies. ·No Commercialization: Stop turning school children into a captive market for commercial marketing interests with franchises that undermine democratic funding and accountability.

Vouchers are the best hope for poor students to escape from underperforming school districts. They don't drain districts that educate their students.

"Unaccountable administrations, uncertified teachers, and segregated student bodies"—sounds like they are discussing public schools, not private schools. Vouchers are the best way to provide integration in neighborhoods where whites have fled the public school systems.

Commercialization is less damaging to children than the propagandistic textbooks and "progressive" crackpot theories used to educate children these days.

No High-Stakes Testing: Stop the curriculum takeover by commercial standardized test and test-prep corporations. Stop linking administrator and teacher pay and student graduation and retention to standardized test performance. Stop reducing education to answering multiple choice questions. Put teachers back in charge of ongoing, genuine assessment in the classroom.

Unions hate testing because it provides empirical evidence of what works (phonics, traditional math) and what doesn't ("whole word", "new math"). I grew up in a district that has been testing for many years, and we were never "taught to the test", unless you refer to learning the skills that are tested, such as reading comprehension, science, and mathematics. As for graduation, is the party actually advocating granting a diploma to a student who cannot pass a standardized test?

Curriculum for a Multicultural Participatory Democracy: We support a democratic public school curriculum that fosters curiosity, critical thinking, and free expression, that explicitly promotes democratic and egalitarian anti-racist, anti-sexist, and multicultural values, that replaces Eurocentric with multicultural textbooks and other curriculum materials, that does not sort children into academic and non-academic tracks, and that is academically rigorous with high expectations for all children.

Oh, yes. The multi-cult. We cannot have a discussion of education without bringing up the multi-cult and its baggage. When it comes to Science, the accomplishments of China, Egypt, and Europe far outweigh the relatively backwards cultures of Africa, the Americas, and the rest of Asia. For literature, it's hard to discuss ancient literature of a civilization that did not have writing. These facts may be unpleasant, and may seem impolitic, but that does not diminish their accuracy. It's not racist to teach children about history, even if it reflects poorly upon certain cultures

Support Bilingual Education: Minority-language children with limited English proficiency must have instructional programs that build on their native language and culture while building English proficiency.

California's Prop 227 has proved the folly of this plank. English immersion is much more effective as a method of learning, it diminished the amount of time non-English speakers are segregated from the rest of the student body, and it reduces the number of (expensive) bilingual teachers needed. Of course, it's opposed by the cultural pressure groups and the unions, but its especially popular with the parents of children who do not speak English.

posted on June 22, 2003 05:51 PM


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