Children living in poverty and children of color often begin school behind their peers, as they are less likely to have been provided access to high-quality early development and learning opportunities like Head Start programs. Recent data demonstrates the consequences of us failing to invest in and properly support our students, particularly students living in poverty and students of color: in 2019, more than 65 percent of 4th and 8th grade students performed below proficiency in reading and math. Hostile school environments and exclusionary discipline policies also disproportionately target children of color, LGBTQ children, and children with disabilities, often denying them opportunities for success and pushing them into the school-to-prison pipeline. Children and youth experiencing homelessness, those in foster care, and those returning from juvenile detention are also often denied the tools and support they need to succeed and are therefore at greater risk of falling behind and dropping out of school.
We envision a public education system where every child enjoys their education, feels supported and appreciated in school, and has opportunities to gain the social, economic, and cultural and political capital necessary to realize their full potential. All students have a right to the robust enforcement of our nation’s civil rights and education laws and freedom from discrimination.
Education should be the great equalizer, leveling the playing field for all children. This means a public education system with equitable resources for all, including equitable access to high-quality teachers and programming within school districts and schools. It also means a public education system where children are not trapped in schools isolated by race and poverty and privy to discriminatory discipline policies and practices. There must be special recognition and attention given to the educational needs of children who are living in poverty or in families with low incomes, as well as children who are differently abled; English language learners; and children who are experiencing homelessness, living in foster care, or returning from juvenile detention.
We work to eliminate discriminatory education policies and practices and the inequitable distribution of resources that undermine equal educational opportunities for all students. To ensure all children an equitable education, we must:
- Promote Equitable School Funding: We must eliminate the inequitable distribution of resources that undermine equal education opportunities for students, especially children living in poverty or in families with low incomes; children of color; children who are differently abled; English language learners; and children who are experiencing homelessness, those who are in foster care, and those returning from juvenile detention.
- Proactively desegregate our schools: We must eliminate the deep segregation along racial and economic lines that continues to exist in our public schools so that children of color and children living in poverty have the same access to high-quality educational resources and highly-qualified, experienced teachers as their white and wealthier peers.
- Work to Reduce the Achievement Gap: We must build support within schools so that all children have access to the highly-qualified and experienced teachers, diverse teacher pipelines, and high-quality educational resources and programming that we know they need to succeed.
- End the School-to-Prison Pipeline: We must eliminate discriminatory discipline practices in school districts and schools, create safe and inclusive school climates, and promote educational success for every child.
- Expand After-School and Summer Literacy Opportunities: Provide new resources to expand summer and after-school literacy and cultural enrichment programs for children to curb summer learning loss, close achievement gaps, and create additional opportunities for children to feel connected to their education.