- Increased funding for public schools and public school teachers
- Increased funding for special needs provision and school-based mental health providers
- Setting up a committee to review how the city might adopt the Finnish education model
- Banning religion from schools and outlawing the religious indoctrination of children
- Banning children from being forced to attend religious services by their school
As a socialist, I am naturally concerned about the role that private and charter schools have on exacerbating inequality in educational outcomes across class lines. However, I recognize that reasonable people can have widely differing views about what degree of choice parents should have in their children’s education and the extent that they should be able to use their financial resources to improve their children’s educational achievement. I also recognize that different children thrive in different educational environments. To take just two examples, some children succeed better in Montessori schools whereas others thrive in schools that focus on vocations.
Moreover, I believe that the rigid debate about education along the traditional right-left political spectrum is outdated and unhelpful. We should instead be looking beyond these paradigms to models of education pioneered in the Scandinavian nations, particularly Finland. I would therefore advocate on the Council for the formation of a committee to investigate how the city can learn from the Finnish model and that in other countries. As part of the committee’s work it would also consider the future of private and charter schools and determine whether their continued existence is in the interests of children and wider society.
I make no secret of my staunch atheism and secularism and agree with Richard Dawkins that imposing religion on young people is a form of child abuse. I would therefore ban all schools from imposing their institutional religion on children. I furthermore believe that children should not be forced to attend religious services by their school. Instead, children should be taught about all religions in a historical context as well as the secular/atheist tradition.
If elected, I would work to radically increase funding for instruction in world religions as well as foreign languages, international history, and social studies in order to expand children’s cultural awareness. As a Statehood Green, of course I also support teaching children about environmental science and the danger posed by global warming. Given this country’s history, I believe that classes about North America’s indigenous peoples and the US’s involvement in the trans-Atlantic slave trade should be a mandatory part of the curriculum.
Other policies I would explore on the Council include investment in college preparation for low-income families. I am also a strong believer in teachers’ unions and believe that one of the key ways to improve educational standards is improving pay and worker protections for teachers.