Our country faces profound and important challenges in the years ahead. As the vice-presidential candidates prepare to take to the podiums for their debate, there are many essential questions anyone seeking our nation’s second highest office must answer. Over the course of the presidential and vice-presidential debate cycle, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund will be identifying key questions that each candidate must answer about critical civil rights issues. For the vice-presidential debate, LDF calls on moderator Elaine Quijano to ask questions about equal education and the school-to-prison pipeline. We will be sharing additional topics and questions in the days to come to inform future debates.
To protest segregation, Barbara Johns walked out of a school located next door to the campus where the Vice-Presidential debate is taking place. Her case would become one of the cases consolidated into the watershed Brown v. Board of Education. Yet more than 60 years after Brown, segregation persists.
Many under-resourced schools rely on police, often with little or no training in working with youth, to maintain discipline. As a result, children are far more likely to be arrested, suspended, and expelled for minor infractions like disruptive behavior than they were a generation ago. These harsh punishments disproportionately affect students of color and students with disabilities, and those arrested, suspended, or expelled for a discretionary violation are nearly three times more likely to be in contact with the criminal justice system in the future. We don’ need police presence in schools criminalizing misbehavior.