The four themes:
1. Democracy/Common Good
2. Preparing Children for an Unpredictable Future
Theme 1: Democracy/Common Good
- Free, universal, high-quality public education is a fundamental right of all children and adolescents in the United States – from early childhood through college.
- Public education must remain an institution for the public good that ensures the betterment of all citizens. It is not a collection of investment opportunities and competitive markets. Teaching is a human profession, not a factory turning out workers and consumers.
- The public’s right to understand and guide the education system must be reflected in reasonable accountability methods. These methods should address the responsibilities and impact of all components and participants in the public education system, including students, parents, teachers, administrators, schools, school boards, districts, communities, state education agencies, state and federal legislatures.
Theme 2: Preparing Children for an Unpredictable Future
- Public education must identify and nurture the innovation and creativity that occur naturally within any complex organization in order to meet the evolving needs of students and families in a rapidly changing world.
- 21st century learning environments must be designed to grow potential in every student. Everyone with whom students interact in a public school setting must help students develop their identities as positive and productive assets, constantly open to new learning. Intelligence is not set at birth, but grows and develops over time. Helping each student develop into a resilient, intelligent, resourceful, ethical, and compassionate human being is a more important goal than raising test scores or standardizing curriculum content.
- Curriculum in public schools must prepare students for a future of complexity and accelerating change. School curriculum should be infused with the kind of creativity, engagement, and experimentation that preserves the human spirit and teaches students how to anticipate and meet future challenges. Public education must also help students grow their intelligence by developing habits of deep thinking, analytical skills, decision-making skills, and enduring understandings. Curriculum content should reflect agreed-upon learning outcomes that include the following:
- Human cultures, the natural and physical world, the sciences, mathematics, social and behavioral sciences, the humanities, history, world languages, and the arts;
- Intellectual and practical skills for applying knowledge, thinking skills, and responsibilities to new settings and questions; and
- Development of individual and social responsibility with respect to social justice and human rights.
- Assessment practices must support optimal progress for all students by collecting and studying evidence of learning in its many forms and using that evidence to make decisions about future learning needs. Moreover, assessments must be designed in ways to assist students in their pursuit of divergent interests.
Theme 3: Professionalism
- Teachers must be thoughtfully educated, highly regarded, valued, and respected members of a professional community and compensated commensurate with their responsibilities, preparation, experience, and accomplishments.
- Public education must have visionary leadership. Leaders – students, teachers, parents, administrators, and public officials – must proceed from a vision and purpose that are well understood and embraced by all participants in the system to which they are responsible.
- Teacher preparation programs must be designed as clinically based models of collaboration between teacher education and public pre K-12 institutions.
- Vision and purpose should inform the kind of learning in which education professionals engage. The shared vision, purpose, and identity of each school, district, or learning organization must guide its professional development efforts.
Theme 4: Resources
- Equity and sufficiency in state and federal funding for public education must be addressed in order to meet the imperative to provide high-quality education for all. The source of funding for insuring free, universal, and accessible high-quality education must be equitable and sufficient and, therefore, cannot rely on local/state property taxes.
- Responsible school and program choices must be offered within public education. Parents and students must have free and open access to options and alternatives that do not, however, disadvantage other students or programs within the system.