The 2016 Democratic Platform on Basic Education

Valerie Strauss at the Washington Post provides the passages that pertain to basic education inside the 2016 platform of the United States Democratic Party. The new stand of the Democratic Party is welcomed by those who advocate for public school education. Noteworthy is the Party's opposition to high stakes standardized tests:

We oppose high-stakes standardized tests that falsely and unfairly label students of color, students with disabilities and English Language Learners as failing, the use of standardized test scores as basis for refusing to fund schools or to close schools, and the use of student test scores in teacher and principal evaluations, a practice which has been repeatedly rejected by researchers. 

It appears that the Democratic Party has considered research-based evidence in drafting its education platform.

Above copied from C-Span
The following are the passages in the Democratic Platform 2016 on education:

Guaranteeing Universal Preschool and Good Schools in Every Zip Code
Democrats believe we must have the best-educated population and workforce in the world. That means making early childhood education a priority, especially in light of new research showing how much early learning can impact life-long success. Democrats will invest in early childhood programs like Early Head Start and provide every family in America with access to high-quality childcare and high-quality pre-K programs.
We will ensure there are great Pre-K-12 schools for every child. Democrats are committed to the federal government continuing to play a critical role in working towards an America where a world-class education is available to every child. Democrats believe that a strong public education system is an anchor of our democracy, a propeller of the economy, and the vehicle through which we help all children achieve their dreams. Public education must engage students to be critical thinkers and civic participants while addressing the wellbeing of the whole child. ..
Democrats believe that all students should be taught to high academic standards. Schools should have adequate resources to provide programs and support to help meet the needs of every child.. We will hold schools, districts, communities, and states accountable for raising achievement levels for all students—particularly low-income students, students of color, English Language Learners, and students with disabilities.
We are also deeply committed to ensuring that we strike a better balance on testing so that it informs, but does not drive, instruction. To that end, we encourage states to develop a multiple measures approach to assessment, and we believe that standardized tests must meet American Statistical Association standards for reliability and validity. We oppose high-stakes standardized tests that falsely and unfairly label students of color, students with disabilities and English Language Learners as failing, the use of standardized test scores as basis for refusing to fund schools or to close schools, and the use of student test scores in teacher and principal evaluations, a practice which has been repeatedly rejected by researchers. We also support enabling parents to opt their children out of standardized tests without penalty for either the student or their school.
To close the opportunity gap, we also must find ways to encourage mentoring programs that support students in reaching their full potential. Mentoring is a strategy to ensure that children living in poverty have the encouragement and support to aim high and enter the middle class. We will focus on group mentoring, which is a low-cost, high-yield investment that offers the benefit of building a supportive network of peers who push one another towards success…..
We know that good teachers are essential to improving student learning and helping all students to meet high academic standards. Democrats will launch a national campaign to recruit and retain high-quality teachers, and we will ensure that teachers receive the tools and ongoing professional development they need to succeed in the classroom and provide our children with a world-class education. We also must lift up and trust our educators, continually build their capacity, and ensure that our schools are safe, welcoming, collaborative, and well-resourced places for our students, educators, and communities.
We will invest in high quality STEAM classes, community schools, computer science education, arts education, and expand link learning models and career pathways. We will end the school to prison pipeline by opposing discipline policies which disproportionately affect students of color and students with disabilities, and by supporting the use of restorative justice practices that help students and staff resolve conflicts peacefully and respectfully while helping to improve the teaching and learning environment. And we will work to improve school culture and combat bullying of all kinds. We will encourage restorative justice and reform overly punitive disciplinary practices that disproportionately impact African Americans and Latinos, students with disabilities, and youth who identify as LGBT.
The Democratic Party is committed to eliminating opportunity gaps–particularly those that lead to students from low income communities arriving to school on day one of kindergarten several years behind their peers from higher income communities.  The means advocating for labor and public assistance laws that ensure poor parents can spend time with their children.  This means being committed to increasing the average income in households in poor communities. It means ensuring these children have health care, stable housing free of contaminants, and a community free of violence in order to minimize the likelihood of cognitive delays. It means enriching early childhood programming that increases the likelihood that poor children will arrive to kindergarten with the foundations for meeting the expectations we have for them in the areas of literacy, numeracy, civic engagement, and emotional intelligence.  It means we support what it takes to compel states to fund public education equitably and adequately, as well as expand support provided by the Title I formula for schools that serve a large number or high concentration of children in poverty. It means that we support ending curriculum gaps that maintain and exacerbate achievement gaps.
We are also committed to ensuring that schools that educate kids in poverty are not unfairly treated for taking on the challenge of serving those kids.  This means an end to the test-and-punish version of accountability that does no more than reveal the academic gaps created before they reach school.  We support policies that motivate our educators instead of demoralizing them.
No school system in the world has ever achieved successful whole-system reform by leading with punitive accountability.  We must replace this strategy with one that will actually motivate educators and improve their training and professional development in order to get results for all students–with an emphasis on equitable results for students of color, low-income students, English language learners, and students with disabilities.
Democrats are also committed to providing parents with high-quality public school options and expanding these options for low-income youth. We support democratically governed great neighborhood public schools and high-quality public charter schools, and we will help them disseminate best practices to other school leaders and educators. Democrats oppose for-profit charter schools focused on making a profit off of public resources. We believe that high quality public charter schools should provide options for parents, but should not replace or destabilize traditional public schools. Charter schools must reflect their communities, and thus must accept and retain proportionate numbers of students of color, students with disabilities and English Language Learners in relation to their neighborhood public schools. We support increased transparency and accountability for all charter schools.


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