Most media and corporate backed discussions about school improvement focus on continuing to make schools a testing field that results in the separation, segregation and disintegration of communities. We’re not opposed to testing. But testing, like everything else dealing with public education, must stem from the people; it must be of, by and for the people. Otherwise, testing becomes a form of division and takes on the role of protecting the status quo. In this regard, the first entities that should be tested for educational excellence are: the United States Congress, each state legislature, and the many Departments of Education at the federal and state levels. Next, we should test the Departments of Education in each university. If testing is to be at all helpful to the people and to the development of democracy, the educational missions and structures, and practices put in place by state and federal government should be evaluated in relationship to the needs of the people.
Public schools in the United States today should be, first and foremost, democracy schools. They should serve the economic, political and cultural interests of the vast majority of citizens. Democracy schools serve community. They serve democracy.
At the present time most school districts in the United States fail a significant percentage of students both academically and socially. They fail students academically by failing to arouse, inspire and integrate the majority of students into life-long learning and study. They fail them socially by failing to instill in them an objective sense of humility, compassion, and worldly understanding.
Democracy schools begin with the people. Werespectfully request your consideration of taking up the cause of democracy schools. Democracy schools prepare individuals to serve the greater good; they prepare individuals to integrate their own personalities so they might live focused, integrated lives. Permit us to catalog some of the primary aspects of democracy schools.
Provide a serious role for youth in society
Democracy schools reject the consumerist notion that childhood is a natural time for meaninglessness and selfishness. Most cultures around the world promote a responsible role for children. Young people can and must play a significant role in citizenship, community life and family life.
Uphold teachers as esteemed, respected members of society
Democracy schools promote teaching as one of the most important professions for the survival of the nation and the development of humanity. As such, democracy schools support the development of the teaching profession as a public service, with appropriate material rewards and benefits.
Real learning takes place when we actively solve problems
Democracy schools focus methods and curricula on solving problems. Problem-centered education offers our communities and the nation access to the intellect and intuition of all our people.
Public schools serve as transformative institutions
Democracy schools provide the methods and materials by which individual and community changes take place based on the aspirations and views of the majority.
Public schools serve the nation
Democracy schools promote a national education approach based on the nation’s democratic values, beliefs and promise. A national education approach permits students from all classes, races and geographic areas equal access to the power of knowledge.
Schools teach both analytic knowledge and intuitive knowledge
Democracy schools focus on the development of both analytical skills and intuitive skills so that we develop not only smart individuals but wise and caring ones as well.
Learning to learn and study for life
Democracy schools develop the capacity to learn how to learn, and they arouse and inspire individuals to approach life as a great adventure in organized learning.
Practice respect and appreciation for human rights
Democracy schools hold all human life sacred, and promote respect, appreciation and action for the rights of all human beings.
Learning the dynamics of democracy
Democracy schools focus material and methods on the continuous study of the levers of power. Individuals and groups learn how to generate economic, political and cultural power, and how to relate to and cooperate with the power of others.
Community learning places and schedules
Democracy schools design and construct buildings that serve the whole community throughout the day, evening and night, and throughout the weekend. Organized classes accommodate the schedules of the community and the buildings include workshops, laboratories and other areas that promote life-long learning for all.
Public education in the United States lies on the foundational belief in the libratory power of knowledge. We, the people, are challenged to take responsibility for our schools. No one will school us, for us, but us! Let’s make our schools excellent in their capacity to serve all of the people excellently.
Democracy schools activity deconstruct racism and white privilege
W.E.B. Du Bois proclaimed over a hundred years ago that “the problem of the 20th Century is the color line.” He put forth this thesis “not simply as a national and personal question but rather in its larger world aspect in time and space.” Racism is a human creation, based on the greed and struggle for power and profit of, in the United States, white oligarchs. Democracy education must create interracial relationships based on the struggle to dismantle all forms of racism. Democracy requires the end of systemic racism and institutional racism. Organized education must be a method by which the vast majority creates the power to oppose racism and replace it with racial justice.
Democracy Education creates peace and international solidarity and friendship
The ruling oligarchs around the world make every effort to disempower nations in their drive for global supremacy. For decades, oligarchs fought each other internationally by controlling their own respective governments and people. They continue to struggle that way; by using their national government with its military and regulatory powers; but they also attempt to weaken the power of nations so that there is a generalize “lawlessness” regarding their military, economic, political, and cultural occupations of the hearts and minds of people the world over.
Democracy education creates ties with peoples from other nations. It puts into the practical work of study and reflection the tasks of making acquaintances and friends in nations around the world. This can be done via the internet, by videos and books, and, it needs to also be done by direct people-to-people exchanges.
Democracy Education puts the strengthening of democracy at the center of all intellectual, economic, political, and cultural pursuits
Without a school structure, conduct, and educational content based on a robust study of comparative democracy, and without an active role in strengthening democracy in the community, the nation, and the world, education fails individuals and groups by failing to place learning in the real world. There are many “reals” in the real world, but they all fit under the real world of humanity’s struggle between community and democracy, on the one hand, and chaos and extinction on the other.