Combat Climate Change, Build a Clean Energy Economy, and Secure Environmental Justice
The Democrats are far, far better on environmental issues than the Republicans. I am interested to see what the Republican platform says, but my guess is that it will be wrong on climate change. Overall, I am disappointed in this section only being a page and a half long.
Clean Energy Economy
I like what the platform says here, especially about wanting to make a huge push toward clean energy in the next decade. I would like to see something about how cutting reliance on fossil fuels will also help the trade deficit and reduce the income potential for Middle Eastern terrorist organizations, like ISIS. (That it also hurts Putin’s Russia is a bonus.)
Environmental and Climate Justice
This is an interesting section, but, like some previous sections, it does more problem definition than suggesting solutions. People responsible for water poisoning like what happened in Flint need to be held accountable with jail time. We need to make sure that communities threatened by climate change get the resources they need to lessen the effects of rising sea levels or dangerous storms. Loan guarantees to help people make their homes and businesses more resistant to storms would be a good first step.
Public Lands and Waters
I love the National Park Service. Western senators, typically Republicans, continuously push to allow for mineral and forestry exploitation of public lands. We need to carefully review such requests to make sure that the long-term environmental effects are trivial. I would have liked to see the platform call for fully funding the National Park Service, which, from an economic standpoint, makes sense, as the 10-to-1 return on investment for the economy means the government makes a profit on funds invested.
Provide Quality and Affordable Education
Given Clinton’s recent statements on making public four-year colleges free for families making under $125,000 per year, I expect this section to be updated, as this version only calls for making community colleges free. I would prefer that this section not only focus on college education, but a return to vocational education as well, since many jobs don’t–or shouldn’t!–require four-year degrees.
I would prefer to see some means here to give preferential treatment to students in majors where there’s a realistic career path, but what is here is pretty good.
Tightening the requirements for for-profit schools is a must. We are wasting billions of dollars in federal financial aid on these schools. I know it’s anecdotal, but I have yet to know someone who has received long-term gainful employment as a result of a degree from one of these places.
Early Childhood, Pre-K, and K-12
This section hits the buzzwords, but I’m not sure it actually changes anything.
- Early Head Start – Check
- High academic standards – Check
- Better balance on testing – Check
- Mentoring – Check
- Recruiting teachers – Check
- STEM – Check
- Opposed to for-profit charter schools – Check
While they stay the course, the Republicans are supporting things that actually damage the system:
- “Teach the controversy” on scientifically-settled matters like climate change and evolution
- Revising history books to give students a biased view of American history
- The resegregation of schools, especially in the South
Testing will still be fatally flawed, unless they can grasp the concept that the only way to measure student progress is to get a baseline at the beginning of the term, test at the end, and compare the difference. Measure improvement, not the actual final score.
For a party that is supposedly progressive, there’s very little progressive in their positions on the environment and education. I don’t expect to get to Part 4 (Healthcare and “Principled Leadership”) until Monday, so enjoy your weekend.