The United States accounts for 5 percent of the world’s population, but 25 percent of the world’s prisoners; it is no exaggeration to call our national approach to criminal justice “mass incarceration.” And our prison cells are disproportionately filled with poor men of color, especially African-American men. Mass incarceration is one of the paramount civil rights and economic justice issues of our day.
Zero-tolerance discipline policies in American schools have often led to the criminalization of student misbehavior and the creation of what many call the “school-to-prison pipeline.” What are the alternatives to zero-tolerance discipline policies? How do we ensure that our schools become vehicles for escaping poverty and constructing meaningful, productive lives as democratic citizens, and not the starting point of an institutional arrangement that ends in mass incarceration?
U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, Fifth District, Minnesota; Co-Chair, House Progressive Caucus; Member, Congressional Black Caucus/
James Forman, Jr.,Professor, Yale Law School; Founder, Educational Opportunity and Juvenile Justice Clinic, Yale Law School; Co-Founder, Maya Angelou Public Charter Schools
Randi Weingarten, President, American Federation of Teachers and The Albert Shanker Institute
Moderator: Burnie Bond, Director of Programs, The Albert Shanker Institute
Sponsored by the Albert Shanker Institute and the American Federation of Teachers, this conversation series is designed to engender lively and informative discussions on important educational issues. We deliberately invite speakers with diverse perspectives, including views other than those of the AFT and the Albert Shanker Institute. What is important is that these participants are committed to genuine engagement with each other.
Today, American democracy is in crisis, and voter suppression is at the center of that crisis. There is ample evidence that it has been used to thwart the democratic will of “we the people” in a different states and in a number of recent elections. Our panel gathers not to belabor the self-evident – that voter suppression is morally wrong and injurious to democracy – but to discuss, from a variety of perspectives, what we should be doing to end it.