The Platform of the Massachusetts Democratic
PART II: EDUCATION, TRAINING, AND OPPORTUNITY
Education Reform and Innovation.
We believe public education is the cornerstone of our economy, democracy,
and society, and that every child and young person in the Commonwealth deserves
access to high quality adequate education as constitutionally mandated by
the Supreme Judicial Court’s landmark McDuffy decision. We strongly support
the Commonwealth’s ongoing effort to improve public education at all levels
and applaud innovations in public education that complement the improvements
already underway through The Education Reform Act of 1993. We believe all
reforms should be evaluated in order to strengthen those that are working
well and revise or eliminate those that prove ineffective.
We believe education must be a top priority at all levels of government,
and we reject policies that direct funds away from the children and the
programs in our public schools to finance political promises of tax reductions
or to other unrelated purposes. We support just and equitable funding mechanisms
that provide for vibrant public schools in all communities, and we oppose
efforts in Washington to downgrade federal support, financial or otherwise,
for educational excellence. We strongly oppose any effort to change the
state constitution’s current prohibition against the provision of taxpayer
dollars to private or religious schools, and we oppose school vouchers proposals,
whether state or federal, which direct public funds away from public schools
and toward private or religious schools. We call upon the state to change
funding of Commonwealth Charter schools to ensure that funds are not drained
from established public schools. We support efforts to ensure adequate resources
to help students achieve high standards set by the state.
We support challenging academic standards in core subjects for all students.
We believe that school systems, teachers, and administrators also must be
held to strong standards of accountability. We recognize the responsibility
of our state and local communities to provide the support and assistance
needed for students and schools to achieve these objectives. We support
curriculum standards and fair student evaluation mechanisms, including but
not limited to periodic testing. We oppose use of the Massachusetts Comprehensive
Assessment System (MCAS) test as a solely decisive determinant of graduation
from high school.
Quality Teaching in Smaller Classes.
We believe that smaller class sizes mean better schools, and we strongly
support state and federal proposals to hire the additional teachers required.
We support incentives to attract, hire, and retain motivated, competent
teachers. We endorse alternative certification for those pursuing teaching
as a career change, as long as there is adequate teacher preparation to
ensure quality teachers, and we support scholarships and loan forgiveness
to attract teachers to urban and rural areas, and expanded opportunities
in training and professional development.
Excellence, Equality and Community.
We have high hopes and expectations for all students, and we believe that
educational opportunity must be made available without regard to race, gender,
economic status, or disability. We reaffirm our support for classroom programs,
including Special and Bilingual Education, that can help children reach
their fullest potential, and for state and federal laws barring discrimination
in our classrooms. We believe it is vital for all of our students to be
able to compete in the global world and encourage greater use of Global
Education curricula and the teaching of foreign languages in elementary
schools as well as in the upper grades.
Universal Early Childhood Education.
We believe early childhood education is vital to subsequent success as a
student. We strongly support the implementation and full funding of universal
early childhood education with developmentally appropriate programs for
all children under age 6 in the Commonwealth. We pledge to seek additional
resources to provide quality child care for working parents. We recognize
the need for upgraded wages to attract and keep sufficient qualified staff,
and the importance of state and federal funds specifically earmarked to
hire and retain experienced child care teachers. We support the extension
of HeadStart to all eligible children, especially those at risk, and full-day
kindergarten throughout all public schools of the Commonwealth.
After-School and Other Out-of-School Opportunities.
We believe that to better promote academic success, combat crime and substance
abuse among teenagers, and aid working families, Massachusetts must develop
a strong network of after-school and summer enrichment and learning opportunities
to be available to all children. We propose to do so in part by leveraging
the public’s considerable investment in school buildings by turning them,
wherever possible, into true community centers serving all ages throughout
the day and the year.
We know that parental involvement is an important determinant of children’s
success. We must give parents the opportunities to exercise their responsibility
as parents, including through parenting classes for new parents, flex-time,
paid leave and time off to participate in parent-teacher conferences.
We recognize that technologies like the Internet are reshaping the worlds
of work and education and the pursuit of knowledge in our society, and we
believe the state must act to bridge an emerging “Digital Divide” that threatens
to leave individual students and whole communities behind. The state must
continue to make resources for educational technology, including hardware,
wiring, software and staff training a leading priority within its infrastructure
Putting Education to Work.
We believe that initiatives like School-to-Work and effective vocational
curricula that help students acquire the skills needed for high wage jobs
are of vital importance in today’s sophisticated economy. We support cooperation
among educators, employers, and labor to ensure the creation and preservation
of good jobs in the Commonwealth, and the next generation of wellqualified
workers to fill them.
We believe in strong discipline standards in our schools and support rigorous,
fair and consistent discipline policies to ensure a safe, secure school
environment. We support alternative education programs for students who
disrupt the education environment for other students. We abhor acts of violence
in schools, whether directed against peers, teachers, staff, or administrators.
We endorse measures that promote safety, including violence prevention and
early intervention efforts, strict enforcement of drug free school zone
laws, and peer mediation.
We support increased state and federal funding to build and modernize the
Commonwealth’s crumbling schools because we recognize that far too many
of our students attend schools that have leaking roofs, poor air quality,
and insufficient space to provide quality education. As we expand early
childhood and full-day kindergarten programs, we must build additional classrooms.
Student Loans and Higher Education.
We believe in making higher education accessible to all students, through
national programs like Pell Grants and Stafford loans, and through additional
state-sponsored grants, loans and scholarships. We commend our elected officials
in state and federal office for past work in combating proposed cuts to
these programs, and pledge our opposition to future such efforts. We believe
that public investments in the operation and infrastructure of our system
of state colleges, universities and other post-secondary institutions yield
economic dividends that far exceed costs. We support a “Fair Share” approach
which distributes the cost of attending these institutions equitably among
the state, students, and their families, and which is based on ability to
We believe that no adult should be turned away from learning English as
a Second Language or obtaining their GED due to lack of space. We recognize
that the current long waiting lists at adult education programs make it
difficult for adult learners to improve their literacy skills. We urge employers,
unions, and the state to work together in addressing this problem through
increased state funds for ESOL, ABE, and GED, and by offering workplace
literacy programs on-site at companies and at union halls.
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