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Democratic Party’s Draft Platform Focuses on ZIP Codes, ‘School-to-Prison Pipeline’

By Andrew Ujifusa — June 27, 2016 1 min read
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As part of the run-up to the Democratic National Convention in roughly a month’s time, the Democratic Party released a draft of the party’s official policy platform on June 25. So what does it say about K-12 education?

There’s not a whole lot, but there are a couple of issues that might be familiar to regular readers. The draft says the party supports supplying the resources educators need to “raise achievement for all students,” and “demands strong public schools in every zip code.”

That latter phrase comes straight from folks like American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, whose union endorsed presumptive nominee Hillary Clinton last year for the Democratic nomination—see her reference to the need for an education system “that gives every child, no matter her ZIP code, a great education” in 2010 U.S. Senate testimony, for example.

And National Education Association President Lily Eskelsen García also used a similar phrase last year during the push to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act—the NEA also backed Clinton for the Democratic nomination last year.

Although you won’t find the phrase in the platform highlights released by the party, the “school-to-prison pipeline” also gets attention. That’s according to Maya Harris, a senior policy adviser to Clinton and her campaign’s official representative to the committee that’s creating the party platform.

“For the first time ever, our platform calls for ending mass incarceration, shutting down the school-to-prison pipeline, and taking on the challenges of systemic racism,” Harris wrote on the campaign website June 26.

Harris doesn’t say anything more about the issue, although the draft platform does call for the end to racial profiling, among related issues. Last February, Clinton proposed changes she said would help end the pipeline, such as the end to “zero tolerance” discipline policies in schools based on automatic student suspensions. And it’s been on the minds of officials at the U.S. Department of Education for some time, including former Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.

The final party platform will be approved in a meeting taking place July 8-9, and will then be presented for ratification at the Democratic National Convention later that month.

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