Young People Lead: A Youth Mandate for Presidential Candidates

Endorsed by more than a hundred youth organizations and their allies, including the Schott Foundation, "A Youth Mandate for Presidential Candidates: Permanently Dismantle The School-to-Prison-and-Deportation Pipeline" was released today: the boldest intervention in the education justice space so far in the 2020 political discussion:

For more than three decades, Black and Latinx students, parents, educators, and communities have organized to dismantle the school-to-prison-and-deportation pipeline. The school-to-prison pipeline is the combination of policies and practices that punish, isolate, marginalize, and dispossess Black, Latinx, Indigenous, immigrant, young people with disabilities, and LGBTQIA+ young people from accessing nurturing and supportive learning environments and instead funnel them into the criminal legal system. For immigrants and undocumented young people, school push out can result in detention and deportation. The U.S. Department of Education (US DOE) has advanced efforts of local school districts to create learning environments that are hostile to students of color and intertwine the criminal legal system with public education. The current U.S. Department of Education and Department of Justice (US DOJ) have supported the exponential growth of “No Excuses” charter schools, provided school districts with military grade weapons, and established grant programs contributing over $1 billion to “school safety” funding, subsidizing more than 7,240 school-based police officers leading to the criminalization of students of color.

A 2018 report by the Government Accountability Office found that Black students are overrepresented in every disciplinary category, including arrests, referrals to law enforcement, suspensions, and expulsions. The disparities were widespread and persisted across the country. Nationwide, Black students are only 15.5 percent of all students, but account for nearly 35 percent of school-related arrests. Students with disabilities are 12 percent of all students, but accounted for 27 percent of the students referred to law enforcement or arrested in school. There is no substantial evidence that police and hardened security measures make schools any safer. However, there is evidence that placing law enforcement in schools makes it more likely that students of color will be arrested for low-level offenses, including disorderly conduct, disturbing the school, and other subjective offenses. Incidents that result in white students being referred to a principal or counselor end in Black students being referred to the police and prosecutors. These policies have an especially harsh impact on immigrant and undocumented students, who face detention and deportation for even low-level offenses. To effectively dismantle the school-to-prison-and-deportation pipeline, the federal government, including the Department of Education and Department of Justice have to redress the harm created by past policies and advance anti-racist transformative policies to guide the nation towards building supportive and inclusive learning environments for all students and families.

Young people across the country demand that the next president permanently dismantle the school-to-prison-and-deportation pipeline. The following guidelines outline the minimum policies required to reach that end.


  1. Fund education not incarceration
    1. Divest all federal funds from police and criminalizing infrastructure in schools.
    2. Invest federal funding in effective non-punitive school climate strategies like restorative justice, mental health supports, and hiring counselors and social workers.
    3. Fully Fund Title I and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and provide guidance on other funding mechanisms.
  2. Restore and strengthen the civil rights of students
    1. Ensure that Black and Brown young people have meaningful input into the process to select and appoint a Secretary of Education who has a proven track record of working to dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline.
    2. Fully fund and staff the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights (OCR). Ensure that those who are hired believe in disparate impact analysis and evaluating systemic violations of civil rights.
    3. Strengthen and re-issue civil rights guidance for students of color, students with disabilities, immigrant students, female students, and students who are transgender, and all LGBTQIA+ young people.
    4. Restore and strengthen access to higher education for people who have been criminalized or otherwise impacted by the school-to-prison pipeline.
  3. Uplift public education; end the private takeover of schools
    1. End federal funding for charter schools and voucher programs.
    2. Implement a moratorium on Charter Expansion.
    3. Fund the Community Schools model.

Download the full mandate PDF, which includes elaborations on each demand >

Sign on your organization to the Youth Mandate >

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