"To be free we must create new patterns for our lives and live in new ways in the midst of a society that does not understand and is often hostile to new, better modes of life. Our aim is the creation of a new social order, a society in which the commanding value is the infinite preciousness of every woman, man and child."
-From the Socialist Party Statement of Principles
I'm running both as a student and as a Socialist Party/Green Party candidate for the State Board of Education to provide a socialist alternative to our state's failing educational system. Quality schools are one of the most essential components of living in a democratic society. In their ideal form they are the central institutions that allow all citizens to develop to their maximum potential and make informed decisions that will affect them throughout their lives. Despite being the wealthiest nation in the world, however, our bosses' representatives in federal and state government would have you believe that there simply isn't enough money to ensure that our schools are fully and adequately funded.
Teachers in the state of Michigan are grossly underpaid and teacher lay-offs have become rampant. Students are overwhelmingly deprived of essential supplies and classroom overcrowding has become the norm. Privatization of Michigan schools is becoming increasingly likely as capitalist lawmakers pretend it's the only viable solution to our educational system's problems. Exceedingly-high costs of post-secondary education have eliminated the opportunity for many Michigan residents to receive a college education. Furthermore the standardized corporate curricula and undemocratic structures that have been imposed upon our schools have caused many schools to resemble indoctrinating prisons and assembly lines far more than institutions of learning.
The inequality on which the capitalist system is based is manifested throughout our educational system. While Michigan schools that are predominantly composed of our ruling class' next generation have all the resources they need, schools attempting to educate the sons and daughters of working people face an uphill battle for basic resources and are disproportionately underfunded by the state. These disparities are intensified in schools serving predominantly minority students. One only needs to look at the enormous disparities in state funding per pupil between cities such as Detroit and nearby Bloomfield Hills for the racist and classist condition of our educational system to be immediately apparent.
The recent attacks on Detroit Public School teachers epitomized the current struggle over the future of Michigan's educational system. It presented a choice in which we can either accept persistent cuts to teachers' pay and school supplies, only to have our schools ultimately turned over to corporations directly, or fight like hell for our inalienable right to high quality public education. These attacks on our schools and teachers are not the product of inevitable budget shortfalls, but are rather the consequences of a system that puts private profits before human needs.
In the short term the crises within our state's educational system can be halted by establishing a steeply graduated state income tax, cutting the hugely inflated salaries of school administrators and executives, and diverting tax money spent on corporate welfare and imperialist war to essential social services. In the long term, however, saving our educational system will require us to transform our decaying profit system to a system based on economic democracy: a society in which working people own and control the basic means of production and distribution and the profits which capitalists steal from the labor of working people can be re-invested into social programs like education to meet the needs of all. As a member of the State Board of Education, I will do everything I can to work with Michigan's working class to make this transformation a reality. As transitional steps toward this transformation, my campaign calls for the following:
Free, quality and universal public education, from pre-kindergarten through post-graduate studies, including open admissions with the abolition of tuition and fees at all public universities.
Recognition of full unionization rights for all teachers, lecturers, and graduate teaching assistants including the right to strike!
Abolition of legislation that allows public funds to be diverted into private schools. Abolition of school voucher programs and charter schools.
Defend and expand affirmative action in public education
Funding for massive teacher recruitment and retention program, administered by the teachers' unions.
Broadband Internet access in all schools, libraries and other educational facilities, free and accessible to all students, parents and members of the community.
Repudiation of the provisions of the "No Child Left Behind" Act, including teacher testing and merit pay, and rejection of funds tied to that legislation.
Multicultural, class-conscious curricula that allow for alternative methods of learning and development.
Non-moralistic sex and health education beginning in the fourth grade.
Removal of all corporate advertising and presence in public schools.
Mandatory updating of all school textbooks and other learning-related materials every three years.
Inclusion of vocational and fine arts courses in the mandatory curriculum.
Expansion of adult and lifelong education programs, including academic and vocational courses.
Student, teacher, faculty, and community representation on all school boards
An end to military research at public universities and the abolition of all ROTC and JROTC programs.
THE SOCIALIST PARTY strives to establish a radical democracy that places people's lives under their own control; where working people own and control the means of production and distribution, through democratically-controlled committees and assemblies; where full employment is realized for everyone who wants to work; where workers have the right to form unions freely, and to strike and engage in other forms of job actions; and where the production of society is used for the benefit of all humanity, not for the private profit of a few. We believe socialism and democracy are one and indivisible. The working class is in a key and central position to fight back against the ruling capitalist class and its power. The working class is the major force worldwide that can lead the way to a socialist future - to a real radical democracy from below.
The Socialist Party fights for progressive changes compatible with a socialist future. We support militant working class struggles and electoral action, independent of the capitalist-controlled two-party system, to present socialist alternatives. We strive for democratic social revolutions - radical and fundamental changes in the structure and nature of economic, political and social relations - to abolish the power now exercised by the few who control the economy and the government. The Socialist Party is a democratic, multi-tendency organization, with structure and practices visible and accessible to all members.
Authorized by the Committee to Elect Jacob Woods for State Board of Education, 1920 Kinmore Dearborn Heights, MI 48127