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All Americans should take note of two recent reports that paint a picture of a national education system rocked by Covid-19. A recent National Education Association poll found that 55% of teachers are considering leaving the profession, and a recent New York Times article reported that, in the last two years, 1 million students have left the public school system.
Strong measures must be taken to support public education – the bedrock of the American experiment – exemplified most prominently by our founding fathers: John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and George Washington all believed in the necessity of a vibrant public-school education. In the words of John Adams:
The Whole People must take upon themselves the Education of the Whole People and must be willing to bear the expenses of it. There should not be a district of one Mile Square without a school in it, not founded by a Charitable individual but maintained at the expense of the People themselves.
Accordingly, education goals must rest on these three pillars:
Educators: Democrats will fight to significantly increase pay and benefits for all educators, to help recruit, retain, and reward high-quality teachers.
School Funding: Each year, the United States spends $23 billion more on schools in predominantly white districts than in non-white districts. Using property taxes to fund public K-12 schools results in inequitable treatment for students in low-income school districts, compared to those in wealthier areas. Democrats are committed to closing the school funding gap by tripling Title I funding, which benefits schools that serve low-income students, and incentivizing states to adopt progressive funding formulas that direct resources to the schools that need it most. We will also ensure sustainable, reliable funding for rural schools, schools in impoverished urban areas impacted by gentrification, and Bureau of Indian Education schools.
School Choice/Charters: Democrats will work to expand access to career and technical education, magnet schools for science and the arts, and high schools that offer multiple pathways to meet the diverse needs of America’s high school students, including early college admission programs. Democrats believe that education is a public good and should not be saddled with a private profit motive, which is why for-profit private charter businesses should not receive federal funding.
While Democrats work hard to maintain the tradition of excellence in our public schools, Republicans have proven to be a menace to public education. Untrusting of both students and teachers, they support book banning to fit their idea of cultural norms; assault the mental well being of LGBTQ students by seeking to force that community of students back to the closet, and distort history by white washing our complicated past. Their idea of education forces a rigid belief system on school administrators, teachers and students. Their ideas fail not only those in the schools, but society at large.
Book Banning
1,586 book bans have occurred in 86 school districts in 26 states between July 1, 2021 and March 31 of this year. These districts represent 2,899 schools with a combined enrollment of over 2 million students.
Washington Post reports that Republicans at the state level, working with right-wing advocacy groups, are preparing to resist the expansion of pre-K.
Ending Public Education as We Know It
Education journalist Jennifer Berkshire, co-author of the recent book A Wolf at the Schoolhouse Door. “On one hand, they (Republicans) keep imposing new regulations on their public system. But on the other hand, they’re moving more and more kids into a completely unregulated school choice system where there’s no accountability at all.”
Decertifying Teachers Unions
The rule requires teachers’ unions — and only teachers’ unions — to maintain 50 percent membership among the total number of teachers eligible to be part of their groups or risk getting decertified. “They don’t even try to hide it. They just want to eliminate the teachers’ union,” said Mike Gandolfo, president of the Pinellas County Teachers Association.
Eliminating Standards
The Republican Student Success Act dilutes and leaves no one responsible for improving student achievement, while the Encouraging Innovation and Effective Teachers Act does just the opposite by holding only teachers accountable for their students’ performance.
Teacher Intimidation
Governor Chris Christie, who has been yelling at teachers for a while, recently said teachers unions deserved a “political punch in the face” for being the “single most destructive force” in education.
“Don’t Say Gay” Bill
The bill, however, does not define key terms like “age appropriate” or “developmentally appropriate.” It doesn’t even define the term “classroom instruction.” This will confuse teachers