FULFILLING THE RIGHT TO QUALITY EDUCATION
Fulfilling the right to education at all levels is fundamental to our opportunity to participate as equals in society and politics. Personal wealth should never condition our access to quality education.
More than a century ago, we committed ourselves as a nation to provide all residents with public education from elementary through secondary school and we did so without the indignity of means tests that stigmatize the poor. Nonetheless, we have funded our schools largely through local property taxes, leaving poorer communities with less school funding per student. We need to eliminate the unequal funding of public education and insure that all public school students receive comparable resources no matter what their locality. Unequal property values should no longer condition public school funding.
Furthermore, we need to raise the quality of public school education by reducing class size, increasing the number of teachers and school staff accordingly, and elevate the salaries of teachers to reflect the importance of teaching as a profession. No longer should any teacher have to take on other employment to make ends meet. Nor should any school district face the problem of being unable to find enough teachers because their pay is too low to afford local housing. Nor should any teachers be deprived of the fundamental social rights to engage in collective bargaining and to strike. We need to empower teachers and other school staff so that they can contribute fully to the direction of our schools.
Moreover, we need to enhance the qualifications of teachers and provide them the means to develop their own expertise. Then schools can retain the best and not face continual staff turnover.
We need to enable all elementary and secondary school students to have a daily physical education class and a daily music or art class. Fitness and schooling in the arts should not depend upon private family resources. Moreover, students should be exposed to philosophical investigation so they have experience thinking about truth and justice and can be prepared to become active participants in the self-government of our nation.
Students should have the opportunity to pursue post-secondary technical education or college and university studies, no matter what their economic resources. This can be achieved by providing tuition-free studies at public post-secondary educational institutions and by giving students cost of living stipends so that every qualified individual can afford to study full time. With these measures, education at all levels can be a right and not a privilege.