Education Promotes and Protects Democracy

Late last year I met with some experts on education policy in SWFL.  As an introduction to this page, I share some comments used to frame the discussion and build the position.

I don’t use the word education lightly, and neither do you. The agenda that this administration has set forward is a direct affront to well-eduated, critically astute persons. Our meeting with you pointed out some of the opportunities, and it started my thinking of how we accelerate the prowess of like-minded voters. Why? Because we can’t afford to miss the 2018 opportunity to re-balance voting power, that’s for sure.

We need to improve the critical thinking at all levels so that the values we aspire to become the actions we take and the road we travel into the future. There is no democratic future without engaged excellence. That means a grander focus on education at all ages, because democracy cannot function without intellectual beings. 

What happens if we don’t take the steps now? We will have [GOP-Devos] interruptions for many years to come. Clearly, low critical thinking, influenced by money and power, equals their interior core, and our constitutional values vanish.

So, that said, we are moving forward under a banner of economic security that embraces the person, family, businesses and communities in our counties. Education, women’s rights, social justice, health security and predictable financial stability are several of the underpinnings of our messages. 

I wanted you to know how you influenced my thinking, reminding me that, yes, I was once, and throughout my whole career, a teacher, and I’m grateful to the public systems and higher education that gave me purpose and intellect to drive successful outcomes. Let’s do this next phase together.

Cyndy Nayer email to SWFL Education Expert

We believe in an economy that brings more people into the workforce, thereby bringing upward mobility for all our country. Education is the key to the expanding economy, providing opportunity for critical thinking, innovation, and community security.   We do not believe that learning and critical thinking should be parsed along partisan, economic or profitability success. 

The goals of public education have evolved over time to include the following Talking Points

Going Deeper to Meet the Goals

Student reading

We must support the accountable school platform as the school’s mission, and honor the Constitution of the US, which demands freedom of speech and separation of church and state.  Together, this defines the work of public servants to promote the funding public schools, including public charters that are accountable under one set of outcome measures. Public schools are the insurance that our democracy succeeds and advances into the future.

Funding is too low for public schools. If Florida wants to fund broader opportunity to advance the mission of private, for-profit schools to cater to special populations (wealthy, disabled, or other), the funding can not be taken from public tax revenue or the public school systems.

Funding for public schools should be a Federal-State partnership in which every school attendee is secure, well-nourished and accepted into a welcoming classroom, regardless of race, religion, gender, or economic status.

Accountability is fundamental, and transparency is the law in the Sunshine State.  Many stakeholders in the community can contribute to the lively discussion of curriculum, but that it is up to the teachers in the school system to narrow the choices to those that will achieve the most success for the most students.

We propose a national-state partnership to update all of our schools with impact and storm resistant glass, dead bolt locks on all interior doors, and metal detectors, updated on a regularly scheduled basis, and that mental health screenings take place quarterly at every school.  We do not believe that teachers should be outfitted with arms, no matter how competent they may be, as it is injurious to the trust between a child and a teacher.

We believe that everyone who comes to the US to work or to live has an opportunity to be educated, because education benefits the community and the country at large.

In order to support those with barriers to education (learning disabilities, physical-mental health needs, clothing or food needs, homelessness) additional funding is needed for some children, families and communities where health, wealth and opportunity may be lower.  In these cases, public schools must be equally updated and secured with safety changes the same as those in more affluent neighborhoods.  We further believe that counselors, education coaches, onsite health clinics and early childhood classes are contributors to the success of these schools, providing links to social supports where there are gaps.

Every child has the right to be an engaged student working toward her or his particular vision, whether in corporate America, in technical training and innovation, or even in politics.

The 21stcentury requires post-highschool training, and therefore Pell Grants, job-specific grants and technical training grants should be expanded to public universities and training schools

Innovation for funding of student loans is needed.  Student loans for colleges and universities should never come with an interest rate greater than the GDP of the US in the year the loan was made.  It is not reasonable that a graduating student can make more money than the combined impact of experienced corporations and consumers of goods and services.

A reasonable stretch to pay off the college or technical loans for graduating students should be 10% of their annual income, not 12.5%, as overburdening them with loan payments inhibits their ability to become successful at their job, buy or rent a home, purchase health insurance or start a family—all of which contribute to the US economy.

Current student loans can be reduced through volunteer work hours to repair the community. This provides a multiplier effect of building communities that are safer, productive and involve active contributors to the culture and the economy.

We propose the creation of a national education bond through a 1% rescission of the tax cut given to the top 1% of the taxpayers for 10 years, and from which students, graduates, and family members can purchase savings bonds to be used for loan credits.

Sources

Wise baby burrowing owl
Photo by C Nayer.  All Rights Reserved 2018

https://www.brookings.edu/blog/brown-center-chalkboard/2018/02/20/comparing-what-parents-and-the-public-and-democrats-and-republicans-want-from-schools/?utm_campaign=Brookings%20Brief&utm_source=hs_email&utm_medium=email&utm_content=60856274

http://extracredit.blog.palmbeachpost.com/2017/06/15/fla-educators-are-flipping-out-over-hb-7069-heres-what-it-does/ 

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/trumps-first-full-education-budget-deep-cuts-to-public-school-programs-in-pursuit-of-school-choice/2017/05/17/2a25a2cc-3a41-11e7-8854-21f359183e8c_story.html?utm_term=.ce6223b35c09

https://courses.lumenlearning.com/boundless-politicalscience/chapter/education-policy/