With Eyes Set on Dismantling the School-to-Prison-and-Deportation Pipeline, Young People Are Changing the Way Presidential Hopefuls Engage with Them

The group is calling for presidential candidates to sign on to a Youth Mandate that already has 130 endorsements from youth organizations and their allies

NEW YORK, NY -- For more than three decades, Black and Latinx young people, parents, educators, and communities have organized to dismantle the school-to-prison-and-deportation pipeline. Ahead of the 2020 election, Black and Brown young people across the country are demanding that those running to be the next president listen and engage with them on critical education and racial justice issues. Youth leaders are seeking a firm commitment from candidates to permanently dismantle the school-to-prison-and-deportation pipeline by signing on to the Youth Mandate for Presidential Candidates: Permanently Dismantle the School-to-Prison-and-Deportation Pipeline (referred to as the Youth Mandate). 

The 8-page political mandate - which was developed by the youth organizers and youth leaders at Center for Popular Democracy Action and the Alliance for Educational Justice - outlines transformative, anti-racist policies to guide the nation towards building supportive and inclusive learning environments for all students and families, and seeks to redress the harm created by past policies. It has been endorsed by 130 youth-led organizations and allies across the country.

Among its key demands, the mandate calls for divesting from police and criminalizing infrastructures in schools, strengthening students’ civil rights, and ending the private takeover of the school system. It also builds on a growing grassroots movement calling for the repeal and replacement of the 1994 Crime Bill, which gave way to the largest source of direct federal dollars to put police in schools. 

“Right now our schools are more invested in criminalizing youth of color than they are in our education. In this mandate, we lay out the problems we see in our schools and identify the solutions we know are needed to transform them into welcoming environments,” said Daniela Benitez, a 17-year-old student from Alexandria United Teens, a youth-led group from Tenants and Workers United. “We need action now. We need policies that will protect our freedoms. And that starts with permanently dismantling the school-to-prison-and-deportation pipeline.” 

“When I go to school it’s not a welcoming place. There are security guards rushing us through metal detectors. It makes the day start off really badly. This is my education, I shouldn’t have to feel like this. I wish I could feel happy walking through the doors every day like students in the more white suburban districts probably feel,” said Saniya B., a 16-year-old youth leader with Leaders Igniting Transformation in Milwaukee, WI. “Young people coming together can really change things. I just turned sixteen this week and I am already making my voice heard. I need a President who will listen to young people like me and makes sure we end the school-to-prison-and-deportation pipeline now.” 

The Youth Mandate represents a critical opportunity for candidates to engage young people from across the country who comprise a growing share of the electorate that feels unrepresented. Youth are looking for an acknowledgment from candidates that they understand how young people of color in the United States experience our systems and institutions differently because of our racial identity and because of the foundational racism of this country. This means that candidates need to proactively talk about race and institutional racism in all its forms. 

“Youth of color are running a race for a better life, but the way schools treat us keeps us ten steps behind,” said Aryana Brown, Fellow at Florida Student Power Network. ”This Youth Mandate should be read by each candidate because it’s time for students of color to be heard. It presents the true facts about the school-to-prison-and-deportation pipeline. It asks those seeking office, ‘Will you stop the practice of criminalizing schools? And, what are you going to do to fix the broken education system?’”

“In the City of Baltimore, youth are over-policed and their education is underfunded. Young people are commonly targeted as criminals and problems to be solved. The Youth Mandate for Presidential Candidates will ensure affirmative action towards the wellbeing of youth. There has to be a deliberate effort to assist, protect and ensure a future for the youth of the city, especially when the current systems actively harm young people,” said Jamal Jones, Baltimore Algebra Project.

"The election will be critical for our future as young people. As 2020 approaches we are looking for change in Maricopa County. The Poli-Migra - the system of police and immigration enforcement officers working together - has no place in our schools or our country. We know very well what it is like to feel the threat of Poli-Migra in our streets and this institution so we are calling to abolish them both! Free our schools and our future!" said Michelle Ruiz, Youth Organizer, Puente in Phoenix, AZ. 

The mandate lays the groundwork for centering youth voices in places that are already key political battlefields in the 2020 presidential race. The groups are slated to host candidates in upcoming roundtables and direct engagements on the school-to-prison-and-deportation pipeline over the next couple months. 

The mandate has been sent to a number of the Democratic presidential candidates, including Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, and Julián Castro, asking for their commitment to implementing the policy positions it outlines. 

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www.cpdaction.org 

Center for Popular Democracy Action promotes equity, opportunity, and a dynamic democracy in partnership with innovative base-building organizations, organizing networks and alliances, and progressive unions across the country. CPD Action builds the strength and capacity of democratic organizations to envision and advance a pro-worker, pro-immigrant, racial justice agenda.

www.WeCameToLearn.com 

Alliance for Educational Justice (AEJ) is comprised of membership organizations committed to the engagement of youth of color, LGBTQ youth, and their parents - key constituencies deeply impacted by racialized achievement gaps and bias-based disparities in school disciplinary policies.

 

Media Contact: Trisa Taro, ttaro@populardemocracy.org