In 1987, the League of Women Voters of Billings stated that a primary purpose of public education in the United States is to provide the creative, critically-thinking, informed, and active citizens necessary for the success of our representative form of government.
In 2005, the legislature has been ordered by Judge Sherlock to once again revise school funding so that the state pays a more proportionate share of the cost of schools to meet the state's constitutional responsibility to provide a system of education, to include Indian education for all. As a state, we must meet the Constitutional mandate described in the Sherlock decision in order to promote the tolerance and diversity that preserves our democratic institutions and safeguards our individual liberties.
All levels of the League believe that government at all levels must be accountable and accessible to citizens by giving adequate notice of meetings, holding open meetings and making public records available.
Specifically, the League of Women Voters of Billings:
- 1. Believes that in the spirit of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, intellectual and academic freedom for both students and teachers must be respected within the framework of law, mutual respect for all persons, and appropriateness to the aims of the individual course and the age of the students;
- 2. Believes that public education must address, in an unbiased and accurate manner, the facts of a multi-cultural, multi-racial world that includes both women and men, providing not only instruction in basic literacy and mathematical skills, but wide exposure to the diversity of viewpoints and that robust exchange of ideas is essential to the development of the ability to think critically and make rational decisions;
- 3. Supports the concept that public schools are encouraged to teach about various religious ideas in the context of literature and history, but must never indoctrinate children in the tenets of any particular religion;
- 4. Believes that public education in a democracy should be free and committed to equal educational opportunity and optimal intellectual growth for all students, and;
- 5. Believes that parents' legitimate rights to control the education of their children must be balanced against the students' right to learn and the country's need for educated citizens.