Clinton Doubles Down On Obama’s K-12 Agenda, Commits $2 Billion To Fight School-to-Prison Pipeline
Clinton Doubles Down on Obama’s K-12 Agenda, Commits $2 Billion to Fight School-to-Prison Pipeline
In her initial remarks on K-12 education during the 2016 campaign, Hillary Clinton expressed her commitment to putting an end to the school-to-prison pipeline as part of a broader effort to address systemic racism.
Clinton also discussed the importance of empowering black entrepreneurs, reforming the criminal justice system, and creating job opportunities for black youth. These proposed policies build upon the initiatives implemented by the Obama administration. Clinton is seeking to align herself with President Obama, who enjoys significant popularity among African-Americans, in order to garner support from black voters in the Democratic primaries.
The upcoming primary in South Carolina on February 27th is crucial, as 55 percent of Democratic primary voters in the state are black, according to the 2008 exit polls.
During a speech in Harlem, Clinton emphasized the need for children to have access to higher education. She stated that we should strive for a cradle-to-college pipeline instead of sending them through the court system and into prison.
Clinton’s main proposal is to allocate $2 billion to schools in order to reform harsh school discipline policies and provide support through guidance counselors, school psychologists, and social workers. This approach aims to assist students with their issues rather than labeling them as problem individuals and ultimately helps them stay in school.
The school-to-prison pipeline refers to policies that result in the disproportionate suspension and expulsion of black students, often leading them into the criminal justice system. Clinton’s speech coincides with Acting Education Secretary John King’s call to address this pipeline as part of the broader issue of systemic racism. It also follows former Secretary Arne Duncan’s comprehensive proposal to reform sentencing for nonviolent offenders and redirect the funds towards increasing teachers’ salaries in low-income neighborhoods.
Clinton also expressed her intention to urge the Education Department’s Office of Civil Rights to intervene in states and schools that do not enact policy changes related to this issue. She emphasized that this is not just an education matter, but a civil rights issue that must not be overlooked.
Under the Obama administration, the Office of Civil Rights has already taken action in this regard. In January 2014, they issued joint guidance with the Justice Department and entered into agreements with school districts to reform discipline practices.
Clinton also addressed the concerning trend of re-segregation in schools and referred to it as a "dangerous slide." She acknowledged that schools today are more segregated than they were in 1968 and expressed her determination to rectify this issue.
Finally, Clinton pledged her support for historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs), recognizing their contributions to producing outstanding leaders in the country. She emphasized the importance of the work they continue to do, often in challenging circumstances. This commitment is significant considering recent disagreements between HBCU leaders and the Obama administration over policies that could negatively impact these institutions financially. HBCU leaders felt that they were not adequately consulted on major administration initiatives such as the proposed college ratings system and Obama’s free community college proposal.