We have established the following platform to offer a different vision for what is possible in American Public Schools:
1. Democratic School Governance:
TAG supports efforts to strengthen schools and communities by ensuring and protecting local parent, educator and student leadership of school governance at all levels. We believe in diverse, democratically elected local school boards and councils. We support the creation of structures that enable meaningful and informed inclusive participation.
2. School and Community-Based Solutions to School Transformation:
TAG believes that local communities and those affected by school reform should be looked to for the wisdom and knowledge to transform their local schools. This process should be bottom-up, participatory and highly democratic to engage schools and communities in school improvement and transformation. There should be mutual responsibility and accountability among educators, families, youth, and communities. This process must secure the voice, participation and self-determination of communities and individuals who have been historically marginalized.
3. Free, Public and Equitable Educational Opportunities for All Students:
TAG supports measures that ensure every student access to a fully funded, equitable public education that is not threatened by market-based reforms such as vouchers, charter schools, or turnarounds by entities that divert public funds to private enterprise. We demand increased funding to end inequities in the current segregated and unequal system that favors those with race or class privilege. We believe that resources should be distributed according to need, and particularly to those historically under-resourced by the impact of structural, racial and economic discrimination and disinvestment. Public schools should be responsive to the community, not the marketplace.
4. Curricula and Pedagogies that Promote Creative, Critical and Challenging Education:
TAG supports transformative curricula and pedagogies that promote critical thinking and creativity in our students. Curricular themes that are grounded in the lived experiences of students are built from and extend community cultural wealth and histories. We promote a pedagogy that leads to the development of people who can work collaboratively, solve problems creatively, and live as full participants in their communities. We promote a vision of education that counters the multiple forms of oppression, promotes democratic forms of participation (community activism) in our society and that generates spaces of love and hope.
5. Multiple, High-quality, Comprehensive Assessments:
TAG supports creation of assessments that identify school and student needs in order to strengthen, not punish, schools. We call for ending the reliance on standardized tests as the single measure of student and school progress and performance. Comprehensive assessment should include work sampling and performance-based assessment and should be an outgrowth of student-centered curriculum and instruction.
High stakes tests have historically perpetuated existing inequality; in contrast, fair assessments should be used to provide teachers with the information they need to meet the needs of all of their students. High-stakes tests should not be used to determine teacher and school performance. Instead, teacher evaluation should be an on-going, practice with the goal of improving teachers’ pedagogical, content, and cultural knowledge and should be based on authentic standards for the teaching profession, not student test scores.
6. Teacher Professional Development that Serves the Collective Interests of Teachers, Students, and Communities:
TAG believes that teacher professional development must support teachers to become effective partners with students and parents, and to be responsive to community needs. The form and content should be determined by teachers themselves with advice from parents and students and should work to develop social justice teaching practices.
7. Protect the Right to Organize:
TAG believes teachers have the right to organize to protect their rights as professionals and workers. Unions should be a place where teachers have a voice in creating and protecting an educational system that is set up in the best interests of students, families, and teachers. We support truly democratic governance of teacher unions and believe that they should champion policies that ultimately serve their communities.
8. School Climate that Empowers and Liberates Students:
TAG believes in working for school discipline policies and a school climate where students and teachers can thrive. Schools must be institutions that support the holistic social and emotional needs of all students, help equip young people with empathy and conflict resolution skills, and work to interrupt and transform oppressive dynamics that threaten the safety of the whole school community.
We support ending the practice of and reliance on punitive discipline strategies that push students out of school and into the military or prisons. Schools should remove zero tolerance policies, institute restorative practices and restorative justice models, and create time in the curriculum for community-building practices and social/emotional supports.
Teacher Activist Groups (TAG) is a national coalition of grassroots teacher organizing groups. Together, we engage in shared political education and relationship building in order to work for educational justice both nationally and in our local communities. TAG has representatives from :
- T4SJ- Teachers 4 Social Justice (San Francisco/BayArea, CA) ,
- NyCore- New York Collective of Radical Educators (New York, NY) ,
- TSJ- Teachers for Social Justice (Chicago),
- ARE-Association of Radical Educators (Los Angeles, Ca),
- Rethinking Schools (National)
- EdLib- Education for Liberation Network (National) ,
- Teacher Action Group TAG-Philly (Phildelphia,PA) ,
- ENSJ- Educators’ Network for Social Justice (Milwaukee, WI),
- TAG-Teacher Activist Group Boston (Boston, MA) ,
- MAPS- Metro Atlantans for Public Schools (Atlanta, GA)
(More info can be found on the TAG Website: http://www.teacheractivists.org/