9. Education

A Radical Centrist Vision for the Future > List of Amendments > Education

9.1 Educational Objectives

It is vital to the national interest for all American citizens to receive high quality education which serves their life and career needs, and which contributes to the economic success of communities and industries. Moreover, the Founding Fathers took the view that for people to vote as responsible citizens in a democracy, education was essential in a range of areas, not only those areas which are directly relevant to one’s employment.

For this reason, an “All Essentials” Approach to Education shall be required for all public schools and all other schools which may receive Federal money for their operating costs or other services. Let us take for granted the fact that math is important in the modern world; if you don’t have at least basic competence in the subject there is no way to compete for decent jobs and you would be severely disadvantaged in your private life in innumerable ways.

Similarly, it is vital to know science, although probably we can agree that since no-one can master all the sciences, general understanding is sufficient and depth knowledge is only necessary in cases where a particular science must be mastered for one’s chosen profession.

This much is generally agreed on by the great majority of Americans. Unsaid, but inevitably assumed, is that computer literacy is also important. No-one has any difficulty in understanding this also. And periodically we are reminded that for the nation to be competitive in a global marketplace it is crucial to emphasize these areas of competency. But nothing else matters?

      • It isn’t important to know American history so that voters can make informed choices concerning political claims about precedents and the examples set by distinguished political leaders of the past?
      • It isn’t important to know European and world history in a global civilization?
      • It isn’t important to know English language skills, including writing skills?
      • It isn’t important to know at least one foreign language even if you don’t become fluent?
      • It isn’t important to know the basics of the social sciences so that you can evaluate plans recommended by government officials?
      • It isn’t important to know the basics of economics?
      • It isn’t important to know the basics of marketing and advertising?
      • It isn’t important to know the basics of sales and business?
      • It isn’t important to know enough about psychology to have a good sense of human limitations and how to maximize your opportunities?
      • It isn’t important to know basic principles of education, sufficient to know how to teach others, both your children and people you may need to train at work?
      • It isn’t important to know basics of the Law?
      • It isn’t important to know at least basic arts skills, enough, for example, to draw floor plans, or create readable signs, and the like?
      • It isn’t important to know the basics of music, music history, and variety in music styles despite the high value that multitudes place on music?
      • It isn’t important to know the basics of media of various kinds, from radio to TV and movies?
      • It isn’t important to know the basics of world religions since we live in a pluralistic society?
      • It isn’t important to know the Bible since so much of our shared culture follows from it?
      • It isn’t important to know the ins and outs of real world politics?
      • It isn’t important to know as much as possible about forecasting and conceptualizing the future? And the future, after all, is where all of us will spend the rest of our lives.
      • It isn’t important to know the basics of medicine?
      • It isn’t important to know the basics of military science?
      • And maybe most significant of all: It isn’t important to know the basics of logic and philosophy so that you can reason effectively?

It must also be understood that the value of parental involvement in a child’s education is inestimable, either because a mother or father helps a child with homework, or because parents spend what they can afford on tutoring or supplemental studies, viz, art school, music classes, and the like. While not included in the scope of the Amendment directly it deserves to be pointed out because it is futile to expect genuine achievement in schools where parents do not provide such help to their children, which is inexcusable when the reason is their own gross ignorance or irresponsibility. That is, achievement is a reasonable and necessary goal but it is unrealistic when the home environment of children makes any such outcome uncertain or nearly impossible. Community programs intended to improve the schools and educational results need to be based on a sense of realism which is not obstructed by ideologies which do not take into account parental responsibilities.

Moreover, implicit in the categories of areas where education is important are such things as environment as part of science, and journalism either as part of English language or the blog side of “computers.”

An “all essentials” approach education is necessary for the whole person and for economic success. Excessive focus on math or science is detrimental to the interests of society no matter how important these fields of study may be. Education should have as its primary goal in a democracy, providing students with all the skills and knowledge they may need throughout lives that may well be unpredictable because we live in a world that is multi-dimensional and which always changes.


9.2 Bill of Rights and Responsibilities for Parents and Teachers

Rights and Responsibilities of Parents

Every child’s success in life can best be achieved through a partnership between parents and educators. Parents have certain rights and responsibilities. These include:

The right to a free public school education for their children in a safe and supportive learning environment from kindergarten until graduation from high school.

The right to have a child with a disability evaluated and, if found to be in need of special education, have it provided in an environment designed for the purpose which shall not impinge on educational needs of other children.

The right to have a child who is learning English as a second language receive. competent instruction

The right to have their child learn in a safe and supportive learning environment, free of harassment, bigotry and discrimination based on actual or perceived age, race, creed, color, gender, religion, national origin, disability, or political beliefs.

The right to be given access to their child’s education records and any available information on educational programs and opportunities.

The right to written information regarding the grading criteria that will be used to evaluate their child’s academic performance and be assured of the confidentiality of their child’s records As well, if a child transfers to another school, these records shall be sent to that school in a timely manner.

The right to communicate with teachers or other school staff concerning their child’s progress or any problems he or she may be having. As well, a parent has the right to visit their child’s school during times set aside for the purpose by the local school. This includes teacher – parent meetings sponsored by groups such as the PTA / PTO.

The right to be fully informed if a child is disciplined for any reason. This includes the right to file a written complaint if the parent feels the charge or the discipline is unjust. This is especially important if a child is expelled from school.

The right to have school staff make every reasonable attempt to ensure that parents receive important notices about school concerns, meetings, or the like.

ALL PARENTS ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR:

1. sending their child to school ready to learn.

2. ensuring that their child attends school regularly and arrives on time

3. being aware of their child’s work, progress, and problems by reading school notices, talking to their child about school, reviewing their child’s work and progress reports, and meeting with school staff.

4. maintaining verbal or written contact with their child’s teachers about the progress of their child’s education.

5. adhering to all school policies that pertain to their children’s education.

6. responding in a timely manner to communications from their child’s school.

7. attending all meetings and conferences requested by the school that pertain to their child.

8. entering the school building in a respectful manner, refraining from disruptive behavior and treating all members of the school community respect.

PARENTS SHOULD ALSO:

1. provide a supportive home setting where education is a priority.

2. reinforce the importance of acquiring the knowledge, skills and values needed to be a productive member of society.

3. question their child about school work, attendance, and behavior and discuss what is expected by the school.

4. teach their child to respect the property, safety, and rights of others and the importance of refraining from intimidating, harassing or discriminatory behavior.

Students should be taught the value of Freedom of Thought and independent-mindedness, thinking for yourself, to the extent this is advisable at various ages.

Rights and Responsibilities of Teachers

A teacher has the right to teach free from fear of frivolous lawsuits, including the right to qualified immunity and to a legal defense, and to indemnification by the employing school board in the case of unproven or unjust allegation.

A teacher has the right to appropriately discipline students in accordance with school rules and regulations, but never in a punitive or arbitrary way.

A teacher has the right to remove any persistently disruptive student from his or her classroom when the student’s behavior prevents the orderly instruction of other students or when the student displays impudent or defiant behavior

A teacher has the right to have his or her professional judgment and discretion respected by school and district administrators in any disciplinary action taken by the teacher in accordance with school and district policy.

A teacher has the right to teach in a safe, secure, and orderly environment that is conducive to learning and free from recognized dangers or hazards that may cause harm or that may undermine instruction. This includes the right of any teacher to respect from students, usually not an issue, but which can be exactly that in some schools. Blatant disrespect deserves expulsion from class or other disciplinary measures.

A teacher has the right to request the participation of parents in student disciplinary decisions. A teacher also has the right to be free from excessively burdensome disciplinary paperwork.


Much of the wording for the Parents’ Rights section of this Amendment is taken directly from S.984 — Parental Rights and Responsibilities Act of 1995, of the State of New York. However, the statements in this Amendment are much shortened and have been carefully edited inasmuch as the New York measure is a monument to redundancy, bureaucracy, and Political Correctness.

Much of the wording for the Teachers’ Rights section is cited verbatim from the TEACHER BILL OF RIGHTS, R.S. 17:416.18, of the state of Louisiana.

Another document merits mention, “The Student Bill of Rights,” published by Engines for Education. Most of the concerns discussed in that document are addressed in the “Educational Objectives” Amendment. By no means are all of the recommendations in the Student Bill of Rights unobjectionable, however, even if the overall effect is positive and helpful.


9.3 Academic Bill of Rights

All colleges and universities which receive money or other real world assets from the Federal Government such institutions shall be expected to agree to the following code and ensure its enforcement:

(1) All faculty shall be hired, fired or promoted on the basis of their competence and appropriate knowledge in the field of their expertise and, in the humanities, the social sciences, and the arts, with a view toward fostering an understanding of more than one type of research method and actively seeking to learn as many relevant perspectives as feasible in order to know a subject.

(2) Religious or political views protected by the US Constitution, as amended, shall be respected in classroom instruction. Teachers are expected to correct factual errors made by students, and to challenge unscientific theories, whether conspiratorial or anti-evolution or anything else, but honest expression of political- or religion-derived views on the part of students must not be penalized.

(3) Curricula and reading lists in the humanities and social sciences should reflect the uncertainty and unsettled character of human knowledge in these areas by providing students with dissenting sources and viewpoints where appropriate. While teachers are and should be free to pursue their own findings and perspectives in presenting their views, they should consider and make their students aware of other viewpoints. Academic disciplines should welcome a diversity of approaches to unsettled questions. Exposing students to the spectrum of significant scholarly viewpoints on the subjects examined in their courses is a major responsibility of faculty.

(4) Faculty will not use their courses for the purpose of political, ideological, religious or anti-religious indoctrination. This does not prohibit any teacher from expressing his or her positions on issues before a class, but countervailing views should be made known. Criticisms of all views presented should, in any case, include discussion of honest and thoughtful criticisms of those views.

(5) Selection of speakers, allocation of funds for speakers programs and similar student activities will observe the principles of academic freedom and promote intellectual pluralism. An environment conducive to the civil exchange of ideas being an essential component of a free university, the obstruction of invited campus speakers, destruction of campus literature, or other efforts to obstruct this exchange will not be tolerated. The administration of any college or university shall have the responsibility not only to ensure at least rough balance of viewpoints on the part of invited speakers, or speakers from within the institution for that matter, for example both Liberals and Conservatives with at least an occasional Independent, but to also enforce rules that prohibit disorderly conduct on the part of students and that might threaten the safety of guest lecturers or others..

(6) Knowledge advances when individual scholars are left free to reach their own conclusions about which methods, facts, and theories have been validated by research. Academic institutions and professional societies need to maintain the integrity of the research process, to further the circulation of research findings by scholars, and promote reasonable interpretations of such results even when more than one school of thought exists on what the best interpretation actually is. To perform these functions adequately, academic institutions and professional societies should maintain a posture of organizational neutrality with respect to the substantive disagreements among researchers

(7) All institutions of higher learning which receive funding from the Federal Government must not use tenure in employment practices. Instead, a system of peer review and administrative review should determine which contracts are renewed, with no contracts allowable for more than a five year period or a five year renewal. There is no limit on the number of renewals stipulated in this Amendment, which should be determined by each college or university.

Note: This Amendment closely follows the document of the same name originally written by David Horowitz. As much as possible it makes use of his exact words, but there are several important modifications, including numbering, and especially with respect to abandonment of tenure. This custom is regarded here as unjustifiable, because rather than encourage free speech, it contributes to conformity in the long years required for a tenure award during which a faculty member is expected to think just like all other tenured faculty. As well, guaranteed employment may result in mediocre scholarship and teaching because such faculty are freed from any need to be competitive with respect to the achievements of their colleagues.


9.4 Electronic Rights for Students and Teachers

This Amendment is meant to provide principles to guide educational use of computers at all school levels. The basic rule is that electronic communities, to work well and for educational purposes, there needs to be genuine civility, respect for participants, and willingness to share ideas and information. This Amendment takes the view that student access to the electronic realm is an American right and that such “information resources” should not be denied to anyone in any school –except in cases of egregious abuse of this right, or gross irresponsibility.

Students of any age have the right,within an educational institution, to receive adequate training in electronic systems operation, in communications protocols., and access to specialized “tools” or software necessary for instructional purposes. Sometimes it may be reasonable to expect students to pay for such things on their own, but this is not always an option, as when highly specialized programs or equipment is necessary. Teachers need to be reasonable in their requests for what their students may need to purchase.

All students, or parents when considering younger students, deserve to “be informed about personal information that is being and has been collected about them, the right to review and correct that information, and the right to control the distribution of that information beyond the expressed purpose of its collection.”

Freedom of speech is as much a constitutional right when taking part in an electronic group as it is in any other context in America.

All students, except for adult age people who enter into contracts otherwise, shall have “ownership rights over their own intellectual works.” It also is the responsibility of students and teachers and anyone else involved to respect the intellectual property rights of others.

It is up to students to do necessary research required for educational assignments. Students also have the responsibility, wherever possible, to verify information gained through electronic means –as well as other information.

Schools or educational institutions of any kind, have the responsibility to provide security measures to safeguard each computer in use from any abuses such as hacking by others, infection by malware, electronic snooping, or anything of this nature.

All information stored on computers used for educational purposes shall be treated as confidential except in cases where legal consent otherwise has been obtained. This does not mean that assignments required for course work, for example, can be withheld from a teacher, but this does prohibit unauthorized access and it distinguished between content stored on a personal computer, or equivalent, supplied by the student at his or her own expense, vs equipment owned by a school or other educational institution.

Instructional staff shall be fully competent to teach, or tutor, or “coach” their students.

Schools have the right to their own intellectual property, including data files and the like, and students are forbidden to access any such materials on penalty of Law, not counting penalties that an educational institution may impose at its discretion.

While this Amendment is intended as a guide and should not be departed from without good reason, it is expected that these rules will be customized to particular schools, to particular students, and to particular communities.

Teachers shall have counterpart rights as students vis-a-vis school administrations.

This Amendment follows and sometimes quotes from a paper entitled: “TLT Group Rights and Responsibilities of Individual and Institutional Members of the Community of Electronic Learners.” In turn, this document borrows from an EDUCOM document, The Bill of Rights and Responsibilities for Electronic Learners, produced by the American Association for Higher Education, date uncertain, but recent. Much in the TLT document is redundant and a good deal of “editing” was done with its content.

A Radical Centrist Vision for the Future > List of Amendments > Social Issues and Values (next)

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