Public Education

BY:CPUSA School Workers Committee| September 21, 2001

Historic Importance of Public Education

Public education
represents one of the major achievements of the historic struggles of
American workers and their allies. The courageous efforts of African Americans
during and after Reconstruction and since then, and of organized labor
throughout the period of the Industrial Revolution to secure quality education
for the children of working Americans, resulted in the establishment of
public schools throughout the country. Public schools have provided opportunities
to the children of American workers to improve their life opportunities
that would otherwise have been denied them. The fact that approximately
90 percent of school age children in our country attend public schools
provides evidence of the significance of this achievement.

At this time,
for too many of these children, however, especially in urban and rural
areas, the promise of public education is being denied. An advanced state
of crisis afflicts their schools, due primarily to lack of adequate funding,
which in turn results from the failure of the state and federal governments
to meet their obligations to the children of America’s workers. A patchwork
of inequitable local property tax schemes, which survive despite numerous
court decisions calling for change, allows the "savage inequalities"
now widely recognized across the country to continue–and worsen.

Education Under Attack

Public education,
our nations proud achievement, is under attack. Chronic underfunding exists
as governments at all levels boast of surpluses amassed by "prudent
fiscal management" and sweeping cuts in social services. In order
to avoid meeting their responsibilities to their people, these governments
too often have capitulated to education proposals originating with ultra-right
forces such as "school choice" vouchers, charters, contracting
out, and other privatization schemes. In fact, the problems caused by
lack of resources provide fertile ground for these forces to spread their
dangerous proposals. Vouchers or charters appear to frustrated parents
as an escape route for their children.

The attack
presently is aimed primarily at the largest urban school systems where
majority African American student populations struggle in racially isolated
circumstances against the harshest conditions. The targeting of majority
African American school districts exposes the racist nature of the attack
on public education. It also points up the need to renew the struggle
for school desegregation. Segregated education holds back the building
of unity of the working class. Where integration has been tried, it has
worked to the benefit of students of all racial and ethnic backgrounds.

Proposals for Action

In these
circumstances, we are encouraged by the developing broad support for public
education across the nation led by organized labor and civil rights organizations.
The Communist Party USA therefore resolves to support, actively participate
in and offer leadership to the struggle to defend, expand and improve
public schools nationwide through:

–a "New
Deal" for public education, which would make available massive federal
assistance to guarantee quality education for all from pre-school through
higher education;

reduced class sizes and student to teacher/staff ratios at all levels,
especially in early childhood programs and in the lower grades;

barriers of geography, class and race, such as between city and suburbs
which deny America’s youth the opportunity to benefit from our nation’s

–a multicultural
curriculum which enables the youth of our country to become aware of the
destructive influence of racism and bigotry and of the contributions made
by the diverse peoples of our country and the world;

training programs that include building sensitivity to bigotry based on
race, class, religion, or gender;

–a comprehensive
curriculum, which includes more than simply "the basics" and
gives attention and respect to the diverse areas of human knowledge;

unity and promoting organization among those who work in the schools,
those who send their children to the schools, and those who attend the
schools–that is, among school workers, parents and students.

With this
program our Party will be able to make its unique and critical contribution
to the struggle for public education at this crucial time.


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