Our nation’s public school system is characterized by dramatic inequities along racial, ethnic and socioeconomic lines. Poor children and children of color are more likely to live in communities where decades of disinvestment have led to high rates of poverty, pervasive unemployment, and a range of threats to health. These structural challenges limit the ability of communities to generate the property tax revenues necessary to support a quality curriculum, provide strong instruction and meet the full set of student needs. They also impact educational outcomes. Among African-American and Latino students, less than two thirds receive a high school diploma within four years. Among students who have spent more than half of their childhoods in poverty, 32% do not graduate at all.
Much of educational innovation and possibility is happening on the local level. School boards and municipalities often have a wide breadth of power when it comes to education. Local Progress can assist municipalities looking to decipher their actual level of power and explore new innovative practices that will allow all students to succeed in public education, despite their class and/or racial background. To read more about Local Progress and education, click here.
In too many communities across the country, local law enforcement officers who are responsible for serving and protecting residents are instead targeting them for harassment and abuse. Each day, individuals are targeted because of their race, ethnicity, national origin, immigration status, religion, age, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression or other characteristics. And every day, residents of entire neighborhoods are subjected to policing practices that violate constitutional protections and state and local laws and simultaneously erode trust between police and area residents.
A Department of Justice investigation in Washington documented the Seattle’s Police Department’s disproportionate use of excessive force against people of color and its tendency to use similar tactics when interacting with individuals with mental health issues. In New York City, a 2011 study revealed that the NYPD had conducted over 685,000 street stops. African-American and Latino young men between the ages of 14-24—while less than 5% of the City’s population—accounted for over 40% of those stopped. In nearly 9 out of 10 cases, no ticket was issued or arrest made.
Community groups in New York teamed together to overhaul the city’s stop-and-frisk program, one of the most invasive programs of its kind. The passage of the Community Safety Act was a major victory for residents – particularly in communities of color – who had fought for years to end police behavior that unjustly targets them. The Act’s two chief sponsors were Local Progress members Jumaane Williams and Brad Lander, who serves on the Local Progress Board.
Local Progress is excited to discuss the possibility of ending discriminatory policing in other cities and providing institutional, legislative, or legal support and assistance wherever we can be helpful. For more information, please read our Policy Brief on policing.