The Education Committee at Youth Caucus of America is committed to our nation’s public school system. As young people, we all are affected by federal, state, and local educational policies. YCA wants the youth to have a say in how our educational system is run. Listed below are some of our committee’s policy positions:
After School Programs
After school programs serve children and youth of all ages, and encompass a broad range of focus areas including academic support, mentoring, youth development, arts, and sports and recreation. High quality afterschool programs generate positive outcomes for youth including improved academic performance, classroom behavior, and health and nutrition. Therefore YCA endorses the use and expansion of after school programs to all k-12 educational institutions nationwide.
Charter schools siphon the talent and money out of public school districts, worsening the educational experience for many students. Charter schools do not have to follow the same guidelines as public schools, and in some cases teachers to not require the same level of accreditation as those working in public schools. Many charter schools cannot keep their doors open for an entire school year before being shut down. YCA believes that charter schools should follow the same regulations as public schools and pass regular inspections before receiving public money.
Community college is an extremely valuable asset for our nation’s future. It is a path into higher education for people who don’t normally take that path, and it is an economic equalizer. YCA believes that all community colleges operating in the United States should be free for all students to attend classes, while also emphasizing “community” in community college. They should become spaces open to the public as well for utilization of resources. Lastly community colleges should also make available technical training for students who want to work in the mechanical fields.
YCA believes it is of paramount importance that the U.S. tackles college affordability because the costs of education today is not sustainable. America needs to push legislation that assists in alleviating financial burden of college, but also requires students to give back to the economy through work-study programs that contribute economic growth to the economy while they study.
The Free Application For Student Aid (FAFSA) needs to be simplified to make it easier for families and students to complete. Presently, the FAFSA is a long and complex form that requires that families disclose information not pertinent to the task at hand. FAFSA should be given access to IRS tax forms so that information can be automatically completed. Through simplifying the FAFSA application, going to school can become a feasible option for more Americans.
Investment in Local Educators
Local educators should be able to have the resources and teach without having to worry about money. Public school districts in most states are supported by local property taxes, which is inherently unequal and creates deeply impoverished school districts. How good a student’s education should not be determined by the zip code that they reside in. This is why we support dividing all state educational funds equally per pupil, to ensure the equal quality of education throughout each state. Federal funds will be applied to districts and states that need it the most first, regardless of achievement level.
School to Prison Pipeline
YCA believes that school’s current zero tolerance policies have led to a “school to prison pipeline.” Punishments such as suspensions, expulsions, or otherwise taking the student out of the classroom is not a proper way to handle most situations. We need to reform the way we punish our students when students who have been suspended once have a far greater chance of dropping out and ending up in prison. YCA suggests that schools switch to a restorative justice model in which schools, teachers, parents, and students work together, in which the offenders are mediated by victims and counseling staff.
Sexual Assault/Rape on Campus
Rape and rape culture on college campuses around the country is a major issue the YCA needs to tackle. A solution to this issue of campus rape would be creating several inter-collegiate rape and sexual violence consortiums that would serve colleges in a geographic area funded and shared by these schools. This consortium would be independent and impartial from all schools in question and have qualified individuals to treat each rape case with due process and thoroughness that schools often don’t give.
Teacher Merit Pay
YCA does not believe that teacher merit pay is conducive for a better educational environment. There are far too many factors in what makes merit pay a bad idea. Teachers are all not assigned the same students and merit pay based off test scores and improvement can be skewed towards the honors sections. Teachers in an ELL or special education classroom will be forced to receive lower pay. Merit pay also discourages teamwork between teachers, causing them to compete against each other for the better pay instead of working together for the betterment of all students.
YCA believes that tenure for teachers should be reformed, but not removed. The idea of tenure is having due process before firing teachers, and encourages political activism, as well as innovation in the classroom. We believe that tenure should be applied after ten years in a teaching position, and we believe that there should be a “red flag” list in which if a tenured teacher is duly convicted of these charges, they should be taken off tenure and be eligible for termination. Tenure as a means to protect teachers who are unpopular and/or in the political minority is needed to maintain academic integrity and freedom.