1. GRASSROOTS DEMOCRACY
Every human being deserves a say in the decisions that affect their lives; no one should be subject to the will of another. Therefore we will work to increase public participation at every level of government and to ensure that our public representatives are fully accountable to the people who elect them. We will also work to create new types of political organizations that expand the process of participatory democracy by directly including citizens in the decision-making process.
- Children and young people are part of the grassroots, too.
- Families are disenfranchised from any meaningful input into the schools that their children are required to attend. Families are the citizens funding the schools and yet they are not allowed any substantial control or choices. Increasingly, families are threatened by police if their children do not behave as schools want. These should be institutions where families have lots of choices and can get services as they need them. Schools should work for families, not the other way around.
- Participatory democracy means families choosing educational services rather than be required to join a planned social engineering scheme. Grass grows from the roots up. Jobs should, too.
- Real, democratic participation by families and students is the best way to strengthen citizen skills and ability to live in a democratic society. Democracy means choice and the ability to exercise it as well as support.
- Free educational services are vital to a community’s well-being and strength and should be available to all ages (and from all ages as well). New types of community structures will be needed to support communication and interaction and will grow out of an open structure that helps provide habitat for positive social structures. Compulsory schooling encourages a police model and a factory approach, both harmful to positive social relationships with citizens and interpersonal experiences within the schools.
- Many homeschooling families of all types have changed compulsory attendance laws in all 50 states in order to preserve the freedom of all families to decide on the education of their children including the right to be exempt from the undemocratic and inhumane practices of many schools. These include the public grading and labeling of young children, excessive homework and rote work, the lack of playtime, exercise, quality food, and arts and crafts. These also include crowded schools, unsafe schools, inability to control bullying, racism, physical abuse, testing and ranking vs providing services to strengthen native gifts and allowing citizens to shape their lives and contribution.
- Schools are increasingly used for military recruitment and corporate takeover, both of which subject children and youth to manipulation by groups with vested interests and both are beyond the scope of what schools were intended to do.
- The nation-state should work to preserve social stability and honor social structures, working with them in the common interest. Children grow up in a family and the school should not be opposed to families nor trying to manipulate families: the facts of family beliefs can be accepted and this diversity would be an asset if families were able to choose what services they need as they work with their neighbors and retain the ability to make their own choices.
- Compulsory attendance laws undermine families' input and guidance which is precisely the error handling and accountability needed for good system design. Parents should focus on helping their children rather than being forced to coerce their children into a system in which the parent's own input is not seen as relevant. This undermines the parents within the family and it has obliterated the natural checks and balances families could provide to these ostensibly public institutions. The vast majority of citizens involved with the schools -- the parents, have no voice or input and are subject to police action if they listen to their children and become their advocates. Parents are part of the grassroots, too.
- Grassroots democracy means communities should replace policing and measuring models with alternatives that are suited to their local needs by reclaiming education as a social service providing learning services. Learning from the strongest school reform movement of the past 40 years is key to communities taking charge of their community learning services and moving toward humane, democratic and sustainable forms of providing citizens learning services for their children.
- The authoritarian social patterning of children in schools may grossly weaken democratic citizen initiative. The psychological experience of mass, forced schooling in the early 20th century in the US occurred within a social context that greatly mitigated many of the more harmful aspects of schools. That social and economic context has disappeared in great part, from diminished social capital to decreasing soil vitality and food quality, family stress from decreasing wages and rising health care costs, these and other changes have all helped accelerate the harmful psychological impact of forced schooling without the social context that was a support 100 years ago. New ways of supporting children and youth could grow if schools could move toward more democracy and parental involvement.
- The acculturation to invasive and abusive bureaucratic structures may condition us to a learned helplessness when confronted with corporate gangs or class warfare. The reverse is also true: brutal competitors feel justified and confirmed by the 12+ years of training in forced labors in schools whose mitigating social context has weakened drastically thereby creating an entitlement attitude instead of a community-minded attitude.