We will reshape our education system so that it teaches values of love, caring, generosity, intellectual curiosity, tolerance, nonviolence, gratitude, wonder, democratic participation, and environmental responsibility.
We believe that schools need to be an environment where students are supported and encouraged to be loving, kind, and generous; to understand the systemic social, political and environmental injustices, and the threat to the well-being of our planet due to the capitalist ethos that values production, consumption and exploitation over well-being of the people and the planet. We know that our schools can teach these values without abandoning necessary reading and writing skills.
Currently, universities seek to prove their usefulness to government and the public by becoming service stations to society. Faced with a public seeking to reduce their own tax burdens by cutting funding for education, universities have reduced their historic function to introduce students to the richness of Western or global culture, philosophy, history, and social theory and instead have replaced it with a focus on developing the narrow set of skills needed by corporations with whom their graduates might receive employment. As they have become more and more dependent on the wealthy to sustain their existence, they have similarly become more and more detached from their highest educational, moral and spiritual essence. A new bottom line in education challenges this devaluation of our universities and the intellectual life that had once flourished there.
To this end,
- We will resist the corporate control of childhood as manifested in child-targeted media, branding, advertising, publishing, and manipulative school curricula. And we will insist that schools foster and support our children’s capacities to be playful, spontaneous, joyous, loving, excited by ideas, emotionally and spiritually intelligent, creative, and compassionate.
- We will promote a New Bottom Line in our education system that would foster students’ intellectual, ethical, spiritual, and psychological lives and consciousness, while carefully avoiding the imposition of any particular religious or spiritual tradition.
- We will promote teaching of empathy, compassion, psychological self-awareness, understanding of the world and the ways it needs to be healed and changed, the importance of social, economic and environmental justice, the preservation of democracy and human rights, freedom from tyranny, and skills in caring for others.
- We will also promote classes that help students celebrate the awe and wonder of the universe we live in such that science classes focus not only on the technical aspects of physics, chemistry and biology, but also on the ability to celebrate and appreciate the incredible planet and universe.
CONTRAST: LIBERAL AGENDA — Liberals focus on getting better pay for teachers and more money for building schools with lower teacher-student ratios without challenging the competitive nature of education and its implicit reinforcement of the meritocratic fantasy that those who are smartest and work the hardest will receive the greatest rewards in adulthood. They’d be far more effective in getting support for these important demands if they gave more attention to the ethical content of what is being taught and the emotional and spiritual environment in which it is taught.
CONTRAST: CONSERVATIVE AGENDA — Conservatives correctly criticize the values that are being taught in our schools (materialism and competitiveness) but fail to note that these values reflect the values of the marketplace that conservatives champion. They propose false solutions whose underlying intent is to dismantle the public school system or at least wildly underfund it and thereby “prove” that everything “public” must be a failure and that the only good thing is the private sector.