Massachusetts Democratic Party Platform Committee

March 5, 2005

To Whom It May Concern:

We are testifying in support of modifying the platform section on Education, Training and Opportunity (Part II).

We are about to enroll our oldest child in public school, and fully support the statements on public schools in the planks on "Education Reform and Innovation" and "Full Funding". However, we disagree with the knee-jerk reaction against school vouchers. Clearly a large-scale transition away from public schools to a school-voucher based system would be a disaster. But the Democratic Party should not be opposed to reasonable experiments to arrive at a better solution.

Where public schools are working for their communities, it makes sense to protect their funding and allow them to continue to function and improve. But when the public schools are failing to educate the children in their community, the community should be free to experiment with alternatives, including school vouchers.

Public schools have been a good solution for educating children across this country for a long time. This does not mean however that public school is the only viable model for educating our children in today's world. By forcing everyone to participate in a system that is clearly not serving everyone's needs, we may be doing society, and our children, greater harm than good!

We also support the statements in the plank on "Quality Teaching in Smaller Classes". However, we are concerned that part of the problem we are facing is a weakening of the standing of the teaching profession in our society. We are not sure how to address this problem, but want to call attention to it so that others can perhaps think of new ways to address it.

Finally on the "Student Loans and Higher Education" plank, we are concerned about unfair lending practices that prevent students and graduates from re-financing their student loans to take advantage of lower interest rates. Such practices are inherently unfair, and are also counter productive to society's broader interests in seeing young professionals succeed. We would like to see this issue also addressed in the plank.

Thank you for considering our opinions.