K-12 Education

  • Redlining, Property Taxes, and School Budgets

    • Local taxes, largely property taxes, help pay for schools. This means that areas with more money and larger, richer businesses have more funding for their schools. In Illinois alone, some schools have as little as $9,794 per student, while others have $28,639 per student. However, in richer areas, the taxable money is much higher, therefore the community has a lot more funding available for schools.

    • Since schools in areas with higher property taxes have more resources, this usually means white schools have more resources and black schools have less. This is not by accident, because up until the 1970s, there was a practice in place that prohibited real estate agents from selling black people homes in certain areas, usually wealthier areas. If a black family lived in a neighborhood, property values would go down because racism is so rampant. This practice is called redlining, and the effects are still seen today. Schools are more segregated today than they were in the 1960s. This means that schools that are all black or majority black have less funding than white schools.

    • To fix this gap in funding, Done Waiting advocates for more federal funds to be appropriated to lower-income schools that have significantly less funding than schools in wealthier areas. Right now, the federal government accounts for 10% of school funding, but Done Waiting believes that this amount must be increased for school districts that are very segregated or low-income.

      • Expand the Strength and Diversity Act to actively work to desegregate schools.

      • Fully fund school transportation. 

  • Inequality within MI-12, Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor

    • The education disparities in Michigan’s 12th district highlights the striking relationship between a community's affluence and quality of education. Comparing the city of Ann Arbor to Ypsilanti, both in MI-12, is one of the best examples of how neighboring communities can have completely different educational opportunities. The difference between each city’s public school system is also striking: 

      • Ann Arbor Public Schools (AAPS) graduated 89% of their students whereas Ypsilanti Community Schools only graduated 60%. Ann Arbor teachers are paid, on average, $20,000 more than Ypsilanti teachers. 

      • Differences in funding can partly be attributed to local property taxes. Because the property value in Ann Arbor is higher than Ypsilanti, AAPS can get more revenue from property taxes which increases their school funding and allows the district to invest more in their education. 

      • Ypsilanti students also scored lower on standardized tests than Ann Arbor students. The fact that Ann Arbor students outperform Ypsilanti students correlates to the differences in income between the communities: the median income of Ann Arbor in 2019 was $63,956, almost twice as much as Ypsilanti at $36,982

      • Ypsilanti schools underperform in comparison to AAPS and as a result, 1,032 Ypsilanti students have opted to attend school in Ann Arbor through school of choice. With 3,840 students in Ypsilanti Community Schools, that’s 20% of K-12 Ypsilanti students choosing to receive education in Ann Arbor.

    • Ypsilanti students should not have to rely on school of choice to receive high quality public education. School of choice exacerbates education inequality by allowing wealthier students to attend better schools, and is ultimately a temporary solution to a deeply rooted problem in educational funding and how poorer communities have lower quality education. Instead of surface level solutions like letting students choose which school to go to, Done Waiting supports equitable funding for every public school and reinvesting in public education. We support putting money towards school infrastructure, technology, and teachers salaries and not allowing school funding to be increased for wealthier school districts. Instead of having to drive 30 minutes to access higher quality public education, Ypsilanti students should be able to attend great schools in their own backyard.

  • School to Prison Pipeline

    • In the 1990s, schools started implementing “no tolerance policies” for behaviors, increasing the amount of suspensions, expulsions, and disciplinary actions in schools. Since the 1970s, school suspensions have increased even though juvenile crime rates have fallen significantly. The last few years these suspension rates have decreased, but are still higher than they were before “zero tolerance” policies and SROs were implemented.

    • Black Students are Disproportionately Disciplined

    • Criminalization of youths as a mean of social control 

      • Students suspended or expelled for a discretionary violation are nearly three times more likely to be in contact with the juvenile justice system the following year.

        • Students of color are the most vulnerable. 

        • Examples include the implementation of metal detectors or strict enforcement of uniforms. 

    • Suspensions 

      • Suspensions decrease the chances of graduating high school, yet increase the chances of suffering from abuse and other trauma which pushes them into further involvement in the criminal justice system.

      • Incarceration does not make communities safer. 

      • The disproportionate enforcement and discipline with black students is a form of systemic racism.

    • School Resource Officers (SROs)

      • SROs, or school resources officers, were implemented after Columbine in order to prevent mass shootings.

      • Even though this was the argument to put police in schools, to stop a very rare occurrence and protect students, this resource is now being used to arrest students -- 92,000 students were arrested in the 2011-2012 school year, most for nonviolent offenses. We know that students who face disciplinary actions are more likely to go to prison, but this brings a new meaning to the school-to-prison pipeline. 

        • When schools turn over disciplinary actions to the police rather than handling the student within the school system, this puts a student's fate into the juvenile criminal system. 

        • Black students are being disproportionately disciplined at their schools, and this directly relates to the disproportionate conviction of black adults.    

    • Done Waiting’s Proposed Solutions

      • Done Waiting believes we must educate and train teachers and staff about how to accommodate the needs of all students and serve as a support system, as well as training in effective classroom management and discipline.

        • Increase positive reinforcement for students 

      • Done Waiting supports providing students with access to resources such as counseling or academic support. 

      • Done Waiting wants to establish a limit to the amount of school arrests by law enforcement, and make sure that as many complaints as possible can be processed through the school administration rather than law enforcement. 

        • Done Waiting also wants to phase SROs out of schools.

        • Also, work with law enforcement to limit student arrests and the use of restraints/handcuffs.

      • Done Waiting supports focusing on more rehabilitative efforts. Also, mandating that every school has anti-bias training and seminars for teachers and administrators to attend. We strongly support research-backed methods that teach students discipline, how to learn from their mistakes, and improvement without physical harm. Done Waiting rejects any form of physical punishment for students, and these should be made federally illegal immediately. 

      • Also, Done Waiting supports community-teaching programs that promote the hiring of teachers from all different backgrounds and who have lived in the community for a length of time. 

      • Done Waiting also wants to reinvigorate funding for the Education Department’s Office of Civil Rights.

  • Charter schools and Private Schools

    • In many states, charter schools are publicly funded but are not subject to the same transparency and accountability laws to publish teacher/principal salaries, or release other information. Charter schools need to be held to the same level of accountability as public schools, especially since they receive public funding. 

    • Done Waiting supports phasing out for-profit charter schools, as well as the NAACP’s cease in public funding to charter schools until an impact study is completed to assess charter school’s effects in each state.

    • Charter school teacher unions must have the ability to collectively bargain, strike, and benefit from union-strengthening legislation.

    • Done Waiting supports prioritizing public schools over private and charter schools in order to equitably serve all students.

      • 23% of Michigan students and 13% of students nationally attend a school that is out of district. Done Waiting believes that the best school a student can attend is in-district. Students’ local schools should be good enough to attend, and we must pledge to provide more federal funding and support into neglected schools. 

    • Done Waiting does not support school vouchers, but instead supports pouring more money into our public school system so every student will be successful after attending public schools. 

  • Year-round meals

    • Before the COVID-19 pandemic, 1 in 6 children in America, or 13 million children, were facing hunger. We do not know what this number will be after the pandemic, with millions of parents without jobs.

    • Done Waiting wants to give year-round universal meals to all children in the public school system, and Done Waiting supports the Universal School Meals Program Act.

      • The bill includes an increase in reimbursement rates in line with USDA’s estimated cost of producing meals to $2.72 for breakfast and $3.81 for lunch and dinner. It also includes an incentive for schools to obtain 30% or more of their food from local sources, which will stimulate the local economy and help the environment. The bill will provide funding to help parents purchase food for their children in summer months, and eliminate the two-tiered reimbursement rate for the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) which will allow child care providers to receive the highest reimbursement rate regardless of income. Lastly, the bill would allow schools to collect Title I funding information from sources that already exist, and without burdening families to report their own income.

  • Safety/Mass Shootings

    • Since 1970, there have been more than 1300 School Shooting incidents, and the number of school shooting incidents spiked from 2017 to 2018, from 44 to 97 cases in a year.

    • Done Waiting supports an Assault Weapons Ban and Buy Back, universal background checks before firearm sale, and a two week cool-down period between the time a person purchases and receives a gun. Refer to Done Waiting's Ending Gun Violence and Mass Shootings policy here.

    • Done Waiting also supports initiatives to train teachers and administrators on how to respond to a mass shooting, and having drills in place for mass shootings in schools.

  • Teacher Salaries and Student Debt

    • Done Waiting supports 100% student debt forgiveness for teachers, and for everyone who has student debt.

    • Currently, the federal Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program allows limited loan forgiveness under several requirements. Education unions can provide federal student loan forgiveness, but there are also private student loans that the forgiveness programs cannot forgive. The average starting salary for a teacher in Michigan is $36,599. Teachers in our state have suffered pay cuts, salary freezes, and slashes to pension plans. Many people shy away from becoming educators because they know that it will not pay off their student debt fast enough. Your chosen career should not be based on how fast you can pay off your student debt. We must protect the interests of our educators in order to attract the most qualified and passionate people to this field. 

    • Done Waiting is also a strong advocate for protecting teacher unions, and collective bargaining in all industries. Some of the policies we support include repealing right-to-work legislation, repealing the Taft-Hartley Act, as well as prohibiting no-strike contracts. You can view our labor policy here.  

    • Done Waiting wants to immediately raise the starting salary for all teachers to $60,000 a year. 

  • Students with Disabilities

    • Done Waiting supports making education more accessible to those with disabilities, and increasing federal funding to help cover costs to educate students with disabilities. Done Waiting proposes to do this through expanding the IDEA act, and the federal government actually paying the amount that they have pledged to pay in the IDEA act. Done Waiting also supports expanding Title 1 funding to prevent socio-economic disparities that harm students with disabilities. A more expansive description of our ideas can be seen in our Supporting People With Disabilities policy here.

  • Online High School

    • Online school is a unique learning experience for those with chronic disabilities, intensive extra curriculars, and those who do not have resources to get to school. However, it requires intense discipline from teachers and students to be able to achieve the same results as face-to-face learning. Students have varying learning styles. Therefore, online school is not for everyone. Younger students need physical interaction and immersion in order to explore the world around them. A computer is not at all interactive, and the medium is not recommended for K-12 students. Done Waiting believes that online schooling is important for social distancing, but is not a sustainable mode of learning because students in K-12, especially those in elementary and middle school, need to be surrounded by an effective learning environment in order to grow.

      • COVID-19 distance learning has demonstrated that some students, especially those living in unstable family conditions, are at risk of adverse mental health consequences and developmental issues.

      • In addition, students that are online will be subject to isolation and loneliness that can be detrimental to their ability to focus on school. 

  • Preparing Students for Life

    • Done Waiting believes that it is the duty of schools to teach students life skills that will impact how they handle life after high school. 

    • History Education Reform

      • The lack of understanding of racism still exists in America. Done Waiting also supports changing our history books to reflect the TRUE history of America and the world, not only focused on white, christian histories. 

        • Revising the language around European explorers “discovering” America, replacing “Columbus Day” with “Indigenous Peoples’ Day,” teaching America’s settler colonial history as well as the true history of Thanksgiving, as well as spending a lot of curriculum time on slavery and systemic racism in America. 

  •  Sex Education

    • As a medical student, Done Waiting knows the importance of accurate and inclusive sex education. Done Waiting believes students must learn how to advocate for themselves by setting boundaries and knowing when boundaries are violated. This knowledge can prevent teenage pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections, sexual violence, and unhealthy relationships. Done Waiting believes that sex ed should be required at every school in the country. 

      • The lack of understanding of gender and sexuality also is widespread throughout American schools and directly contributes to a bullying epidemic around the nation.

      • Done Waiting strongly opposes abstinence-only education, which does not reduce rates of teen pregnancy or STIs. Young adults need to be equipped with the tools to protect themselves as well as do proper risk-assessment in their adulthood. 

    • Done Waiting believes all high schools should require courses on sexual and gender identity, along with accurate sex education. 

      • In the United States, 19% of K-12 schools provide material for sex education that is inclusive of LGBTQIA+ members. Less than 5% of health classes discuss healthy LGBTQIA+ sex behaviors. Eight states prohibit LGBTQIA+ topics in the curriculum. Done Waiting will plan to advocate for an all-inclusive curriculum for sex-ed in every school in the country. 100% of K-12 schools across the United States should provide material for sex education that is inclusive to all LGBTQIA+ members and should discuss safe sex practices within the LGBTQIA+ community. 

    • Done Waiting believes that all students should be required to learn about safe sex and the definition of consent. Students should also learn how to intervene in situations where they feel consent is being violated.

    • Done Waiting firmly upholds Title IX, the United States policy on sex-based discrimination in education.  

      • Done Waiting believes that all school districts should be required to have a Title IX office, employ a Title IX coordinator, and employ a director of diversity and inclusion. This will ensure that all students, faculty, and staff will have someone who can coordinate a fair and balanced trial against an assailant. The Title IX coordinator should not work for the school, but instead for a paid union. 

        • Done Waiting supports anonymous mental health support for students, faculty, and staff for all school districts. This will ensure the safety and wellbeing of all people at school. Counseling services will likely lower student distress and increase their ability to learn in the classroom. 

        • All faculty and staff should be mandatory reporters. They should receive training on how to communicate with students about their mandatory reporting, as well as how they may be able to notice and prevent situations from occurring.

    • Done Waiting believes that all schools should provide students with essential items that will help them feel safer. The following items should be provided by all schools:

      • A Title IX Office, tampons and pads in every restroom, gender-neutral bathrooms, free textbooks and learning resources should be provided by schools, bystander intervention training for all students, faculty, and staff. Sexual violence prevention training for all students, faculty, and staff, as well as specific resources and safe spaces for LGBTQIA+ students  and students of color.

  • Mental Health, Drug Use, and Health Curriculum

    • Currently, students in many states are required to learn about drug and alcohol use in their health classes. We currently have a drug epidemic in our country, both among young and old individuals. 

      • Done Waiting believes that students should be taught that drugs and alcohol are negative ways of coping with hardship, and the required health courses should not only focus on the negative effects of drugs, but also on alternative coping skills such as exercising or CBT. Students should be trained to deal with events or thoughts that cause trauma. Done Waiting believes this must be a national requirement.

    • Students in some states are also required to learn about bullying in these health classes, and Done Waiting believes this must be a national requirement. 

  • Financial Literacy

    • Done Waiting believes that students should be taught how to do the following: 

      • Manage taxes, write a check, manage a bank account, save and invest money, understand the difference between various accounts and their uses, money management, and the basics of accounting. This must be a national requirement.

  • Standardized-testing and Inequities

    • Socioeconomic status is a major factor in the quality of education students receive and preparation for exams that determine their future. Low-income students are much less likely to score high on standardized-tests because of inequities in our public school system. Students who can pay for a better education at a private school, or attend better public schools, often get a more test-oriented curriculum. These students are also more likely to pay for SAT or ACT tutors and learning materials that will help them score higher than those who cannot afford these services.

      • Standardized tests are also not good predictors of how students will perform in college, especially for black and brown students. 

      • Achievement gaps between races result from racial disparity and differences in socioeconomic status, and cause a smaller amount of low-income and students of color to be admitted to universities.

    • Done Waiting supports increasing funding for all schools to provide free practice exams, tutors, and materials in order to attempt to close the achievement gap. If this is not achievable, Done Waiting supports finding an alternative to standardized testing. Every student in America has a right to attend a school that will equip them for college and their future career.