At our 2/3/2021 IRC meeting, we formally adopted our Education for All platform. We started work on this plank at our 2020 party conference. Our aim will be to finish our platform over the next few months.
Education for All
1 Putting students first
Students should have the right to choose the subjects they learn about. They should have the freedom to approach subject matter and assignments in ways that work best with their learning styles. The curriculum must adapt to the needs of students. Students should not adapt to the needs of a curriculum.
2 Every person has the right to free access to information and knowledge
Free access is necessary in a free democratic society to guarantee a maximum of social participation to all people, regardless of their social background. Considering this goal, the main requirement of institutional education is to support the development of responsible, critical and social individuals. The main focus must be on the learners’ interests. Free access to information and education is not just necessary with regard to social development, however, but also for the economic development of our society. Education is one of the major resources of the Massachusetts economy. Only by preserving, sharing and multiplying knowledge can we secure progress and social change in the future. Investments in education are investments in the future.
3 The public education infrastructure
Free access to educational institutions is in everyone’s best interest. Therefore it is the task of society, represented by the state, to fund a powerful, appropriate educational infrastructure and to make it widely available. We favor public financing of educational institutions. We seek to end corporate or other influence on curriculums. Tuition fees of any kind limit the access to education, therefore we reject them in all instances.
For the same reason, freedom of educational materials must be supported. The best way to ensure this freedom is to support and develop more free materials for the sharing of knowledge. These free creations are not just available free of charge for teaching purposes, but also allow instructors to adapt them to their lessons without legal impediments.
Funding must not be tied to local property taxes, nor limited based on zip code. We believe that Massachusetts must aim for equitable school funding for all students. All funding across the state will be handled equitably and distributed such that all schools have the resources to succeed.
Even though the government is responsible for public education, learning in public institutions cannot replace parental education. A comprehensive educational system requires that both forms of education complement and support each other.
4 Education as an individual process
Each human is an individual with personal preferences, strengths and weaknesses. Institutional education therefore intends to support individuals in developing their talents, discovering new interests and skills in order to develop their whole personhood. In addition to rigid timetables and schedules, some forms of assessment do not meet these requirements. We reject evaluation of behavior based on criteria of conformity. Curricula must be based on well-founded and verifiable knowledge and must be taught from a neutral standpoint. This requires objective presentation and a critical assessment of sources.
5 Democratization of educational facilities
Educational facilities leave a lasting impression on the lives of the students who attend them. Therefore, they must be viewed as a habitat for the learners. Students must be able to participate in the organization and make use of these institutions. A democratic organization of educational institutions must give learners an appropriate measure of influence. This will teach attendees how to live democratic values, enable higher acceptance for decisions and strengthen the feeling of community within the educational institutions.
Schools must be a center of learning for neighborhoods. They should be open to other educational uses after hours for people of all ages.
6 Early childhood education
Early childhood education is of central importance for the goals of the Pirate Party. Its purpose is to enable all children – regardless of existing differences – to develop their personal skills in such a manner that they can begin their school career with the best possible prerequisites – despite their social and cultural heritage or any physical and emotional handicaps or deficits.
Therefore, the Pirate Party supports free childcare with optional full-time supervision in childcare centers with reasonable opening hours, located close to people’s residences or workplaces for all children over the age of three. The Pirate Party also demands that the educational mission of childcare centers and kindergartens be recognized that they be financed in a similar manner as schools.
7 Fostering information literacy and critical thinking skills
In a heavily digital landscape, it is easy for lies to propagate unchallenged. It is critical that students are taught how to differentiate verifiable information from propaganda, whether from governments, corporations or individuals.
8 Expanding the Curriculum
The three-Rs are not sufficient for the world we live in. Students must be taught not only their responsibilities, but also their constitutional rights. We propose expanding learning to include:
- Civil rights, duties, existing laws, and how laws affect people;
- Direct democratic decision making and organizing collaboratively;
- Digital privacy and literacy;
- Environmental sustainability;
- Basic financial literacy;
- Home economics.
9 Expanding Adult Education
Education is a lifelong process. Public facilities should be open for use to individuals of all ages, including self-taught learning and traditional classes.
10 Standardized Tests
The simple fact that standardized tests can be gamed through practice and review indicates that they are not an objective measure of subject area mastery. We would end all mandatory standardized tests as a requirement for graduation.