Education is more than a pathway to a better job; it is a gateway to a more empowered life. Good universal education is essential to a democracy because it gives the tools to all citizens to think, and to act, with the power that is necessary for self-governance.
A more conscious sense of citizenship is imperative if we’re to right the ship of our democracy; without training in the rigor of critical thinking, we’re less prepared for engaged citizenship. A world class education should be the right of every American citizen, not only for the sake of the individual citizen but for the sake of the country.
Democracy bestows more than rights. It bestows responsibilities as well: the responsibility to analyze intelligently what is happening in our country, and make carefully considered decisions regarding who should represent us. Education gives us a greater ability to direct our own lives, and the destiny of our country.
The State of Our Education Today
Education is a form of empowerment, while under-education is a form of lock-out.
Millions of America children are locked out of the system before the age of ten years old, statistically more apt to be incarcerated at some point in their life than to achieve a high school diploma. The under-education of any American child is unacceptable, in fact it is a passive form of oppression. The United States is the only country that funds our public education through property taxes, ensuring that children from poorer neighborhoods receive a poorer education, thus deepening the roots of wealth inequality. Educational inequality is both the result of income inequality, and the cause of more of it.
Millions of American children each day go to schools that do not even have functioning toilets, and lack the minimum school supplies necessary to teach a child to read. A child who cannot read by the age of eight is less likely to graduate from high school, and more likely to one day be incarcerated. This is more than an educational issue; it is a human rights issue. In the richest country in the world, it must become our highest priority for every American child to receive a world class education.
Approaches to Student Learning & Development
Children are full citizens of the United States. Yet because they do not vote, they lack advocacy in the halls of our government. And because they do not work, they lack financial leverage – an even greater disadvantage in today’s political establishment. Our economic system is a holdover from a time when women had very little say, and children were basically considered “women’s work.” Women do have a voice in the public sector today, and our highest priority should be to demand better care for America’s children. Children are not simply the property of adults; they are citizens of the United States, and our government should vigorously secure their rights to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
As president, I will.
Millions of American children live with chronic emotional trauma, unable to achieve the highest possibilities of education, even when it is offered to them. That is why trauma-informed education and social wrap-around services are necessary, in addition to what we have normally associated with the most important aspects of a child’s education. Education in America should expand not only a student’s intellectual horizons but also her cultural, emotional, psychological and spiritual ones. It is impossible to separate issues of economic despair from issues of domestic violence, from issues of childhood trauma, from issues of lower educational achievement. Social media issues add to problems with learning skills and childhood anxiety. Added to that the existence of school shootings and the trauma they are causing all of our children, American children are in a state of psychological crisis. We need a president who understands that.
Universal quality education for all Americans, starting in pre-school and extending through college or technical school, should be available to all our citizens, in every neighborhood in America. Every child should have access to the most advanced arts education and the most incredible cultural opportunities, as well as the best intellectual preparedness of any nation in the world.
Why? Because America should belong to its people.
Government policy should support the dreams of our young, not thwart the dreams of our young.
Our government’s servitude to short term profit maximization for multi-national corporations has squeezed the majority of resources of our public treasury into the hands of a very few, creating untold suffering among millions of Americans, particularly our children. Such is the opposite of effective long term economic planning. Our future gold, our future energy, our future success, lives in the kindergartens of America. The way to provide vibrancy in our country tomorrow – social, economic and political – is to honor our children today.
The Williamson Administration will fight for:
- Affordable education: Offer free tuition to public colleges including community colleges, four-year colleges and Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Offer free trade school tuition and to work in occupations such as carpenter, plumber, bus mechanic, or electrician. Those trade schools will coordinate with organized apprenticeship programs to give students real-world experience.
- Eliminating all interest on student loans and forgiving all federal and privately held student debt: Students are too often burdened with school loans that hold them back from following their dreams. Forgiving all student debt will allow students to work in a career they love, launch a business, or buy a home.
- End equity gaps in higher education attainment, and ensure students are able to cover their non-tuition costs of attending school. We will accomplish this by: greatly expanding the Pell Grant Program, doubling funding for the Work Study Program, and much more.
- Federal compensation for state school funding allows equal access to quality education for every American child.
- End high-stakes testing and return to teachers the opportunity to practice the art of teaching.
- Teacher training programs and teacher retention. We must invest in teacher education programs that provide best practices and developmentally appropriate models of education for our future teachers. Retaining these teachers in our classrooms requires giving them adequate preparation, support, leadership, and autonomy as well as compensation that reflects their professional stature. We also need to ensure that teachers face classrooms of a manageable size – and that means hiring more teachers overall. Student/Teacher ratios must shrink.
- Better management of education infrastructure. Buildings and buses are some of the largest budget items for public schools. There is no reason for buses to sit in a lot in between running kids to and from school, given society’s need for public transportation. Multi-purpose use for buses would improve communities and drive down school costs. The same can be said for school facilities – there are other community services that can be provided in those locations, safely and effectively.
- The most advanced matrix of technical schools in the world. Going to a liberal arts college is not the only option for higher education; we should create more opportunities for people who want to work in the trades or technical areas.
- Low-cost education for those in middle and older age who have been dropped from our economy yet still retain, as all people do, their innate potential to create meaning for themselves and others.
Part and parcel with these priorities is a need for safety.
Every child in America – and the parents who kiss them good-bye each morning — lives with the fear, however deeply tucked into the recesses of his or her mind, that this might be a day when someone starts shooting a gun at school.
Once again, corporate short term profit maximization– in this case, of gun manufacturers – is placed before the health and well-being even of our most precious citizens, and this underlying amorality would be vigorously challenged by my administration.