Democratic Party’s Platform: Focusing on Schools, Strengthening the Family

By Julie A. Miller — August 05, 1992 4 min read

Lifelong Learning

A competitive American economy requires the global market’s best-educated, best-trained, most flexible workforce. It’s not enough to spend more on our schools; we must insist on results.

We oppose the Bush Administration’s efforts to bankrupt the public school system--the bedrock of democracy--through private-school vouchers. To help children reach school ready to learn, we will expand child-health and nutrition programs and extend Head Start to all eligible children, and guarantee all children access to quality, affordable child care.

We deplore the savage inequalities among public schools across the land and believe every child deserves an equal chance to a world-class education. Reallocating resources toward this goal must be a priority.

We support education reforms such as site-based decisionmaking and public-school choice, with strong protections against discrimination.

We support the goal of a 90 percent graduation rate and programs to end dropouts. We will invest in educational technology and establish world-class standards in math, science, and other core subjects, and support effective tests of progress to meet them.

In areas where there are no registered apprenticeship programs, we will adopt a national apprenticeship-style program to ease the transition from school to work for non-college-bound students, so they can acquire skills that lead to high-wage jobs.

In the new economy, opportunity will depend on lifelong learning. We will support the goal of literacy for all Americans. We will ask firms to invest in the training of all workers, not just corporate management.

Making Schools Work

Education is a cooperative enterprise that can only succeed if everyone accepts and exercises personal responsibility. Students must stay in school and do their best; parents must get involved in their children’s education; teachers must attain, maintain, and demonstrate classroom competency; school administrators must enforce discipline and high standards of educational attainment; governments must end the inequalities that create educational ghettos among school districts and provide equal educational opportunity for all, and ensure that teachers’ pay measures up to their decisive role in children’s lives; and the American people should recognize education as the core of our economy, democracy, and society.

A Domestic G.I. Bill

Over the past 12 years, skyrocketing costs and declining middle-class incomes have placed higher education out of reach for millions of Americans. It is time to revolutionize the way student-loan programs are run. We will make college affordable to all students who are qualified to attend, regardless of family income. A Domestic G.I. Bill will enable all Americans to borrow money for college, so long as they are willing to pay it back as a percentage of their income over time or through national service addressing unmet community needs.

Crime and School Safety

Democrats ... favor innovative sentencing and punishment options, including community service and boot camps for first-time offenders; ... and initiatives to make our schools safe, including alternative schools for disruptive children.

Strengthening the Family

Governments don’t raise children, people do. People who bring children into this world have a responsibility to care for them and give them values, motivation, and discipline. Children should not have children. We need a national crackdown on deadbeat parents, an effective system of child-support enforcement nationwide, and a systematic effort to establish paternity for every child. We must also make it easier for parents to build strong families through pay equity. Family and medical leave will ensure that workers don’t have to choose between family and work. We support a family-preservation program to reduce child and spousal abuse by providing preventive services and foster care to families in crisis. We favor ensuring quality and affordable child-care opportunities for working parents, and a fair and healthy start for every child, including essential prenatal and well-baby care.

Welfare Reform

Welfare should be a second chance, not a way of life. We want to break the cycle of welfare by adhering to two simple principles: No one who is able to work can stay on welfare forever, and no one who works should live in poverty. We will continue to help those who cannot help themselves. We will offer people on welfare a new social contract. We’ll invest in education and job training, and provide the child care and health care they need to go to work and achieve long-term self-sufficiency. We will give them the help they need to make the transition from welfare to work, and require people who can work to go to work within two years in available jobs either in the private sector or in community service to meet unmet needs.

A version of this article appeared in the August 05, 1992 edition of Education Week as Democratic Party’s Platform: Focusing on Schools, Strengthening the Family