Public Youth Policy

Our Priorities

The Current Reality

It’s no secret that our leaders are failing in protecting and providing adequate resources for children and young people to live and thrive. How can we tell? For starters, the number of children living in poverty throughout the United States is around 12 million while the number of children dying from gun violence is rising annually. The current criminal justice system disproportionately discriminates against young people from BIPOC communities. On school campuses, school police officers heavily target students of color and students with disabilities – contributing to the school-to-prison pipeline. While all of this is happening, our planet is becoming uninhabitable for our current and future generations. In places like CA-34th District, we have one of the highest rates of children living in crowded households due to a lack of affordable and permanent housing. 

Despite listing just a few of these multiple crises happening simultaneously, many politicians lack the urgency and bold commitment to solving these intersectional challenges. Instead of focusing on short-term and incremental fixes, we need to focus on creating long-term and bold solutions that tackle these monumental issues. We also need to refocus our budget priorities to lift children and young people up. If we truly care about their current situations and their future outlooks, why are we investing more in big weapon companies than in our public education? Why are we investing in inhumane juvenile incarceration instead of robust safety net programs to help lift families and children out of poverty? 

Youths in the United States are the future and will inherit our planet and our systems, yet the current status quo clearly does not prioritize them. We have a duty to create bold and thoughtful policy solutions that will set our younger generations up for success, not for failure. In doing so, we must listen to youth voices and elevate them so that they have a say in their own futures. To secure a just and equitable future for our children and young people, we should begin by putting us and our communities first.

Our Youth Priorities and Goals

  • Climate and Environmental Justice 
  • Education 
  • Public Safety and Justice
  • Housing Security
  • Income Security
Overhaul Environmental Policy to Ensure our Planet Survives for Future Generations
  • Declare a national climate emergency to mobilize additional resources to fight the effects of climate change NOW.
  • Fight to pass the Green New Deal as soon as possible.
  • Acknowledge that reducing greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030 and reaching carbon neutrality in 2050 is increasingly becoming impossible.  We must shift from gaining small isolated victories with the fossil fuel industry and pass sweeping environmental legislation.
  • Set a global example through aggressive regulation of corporations, which produce the most outstanding amount of all carbon emissions worldwide.
  • Halt new fossil fuel leases and pause the renewal of current leases until environmental impacts can be mitigated.
  • Implement a larger corporate tax for all fossil fuel corporations that make over $1 billion in yearly profits.
  • Expand federal investment in renewable/clean energy sources and stimulate market growth in the private sector by decreasing supply costs of these technologies.
  • Provide additional tax credits/benefits for individuals who utilize renewable energy in their households, transportation and who convert landscaping into drought-resistant plants.
  • Invest in national electric public and active transportation.
  • Create new federal grant opportunities for urban planning projects that prioritize walkability over vehicles.
  • Reform and regulate cattle farming and agricultural practices that require extreme amounts of water to sustain.
  • Provide funding for mental health resources within local communities to address the increasing level of climate anxiety that many youths suffer from.
  • Protect and rebuild natural habitats for endangered and at-risk animal populations.
  • Elevate Native voices to the forefront of the restorative climate movement with frontline climate projects and ecological redevelopment of our lands.
  • Establish federal programs to close uncapped oil wells within frontline communities.
  • Require that any federal pension plan or retirement plan for employees entirely divests from investing in the fossil fuel industry and any related corporation.
  • Support measures to establish safe and green zones for public schools.
Properly Fund our Schools and Protect our Students on Campus
  • Cement the right to free and nutritious meals for all K-12 students at school.
  • Divest from and eventually phase out the presence of law enforcement (SROs) within schools, which have proven to be ineffective in protecting students and disproportionately stigmatize underprivileged schools with a majority of students of color.
  • Ban the sale of semi-automatic rifles except in limited circumstances, which are the most common firearm used in school shootings
  • Expand mental health and counseling resources, particularly for the inner city and urban schools.
  • Support reformation in school funding reporting methods to gain a clearer picture of funding inequality by requiring districts to use per-student spending, not district-wide averages. Student-based funding formulas lay out how the money would be received based on student needs rather than privileged assets only provided to wealthy areas.
  • Subsidize the gaps in funding between school districts, which are based on property taxes, by ensuring every district meets funding levels at the national average ($15,114 per student in 2021) by highlighting how using property taxes to fund public schools perpetuates racial discrimination in education. 
  • Require school districts to allocate resources in an equitable manner that provides a strong baseline funding level that ensures all students have the same opportunity for success.
  • Expand federal funding for textbooks and school supplies.
  • Protect school resources from “book bans” that seek to silence specific ideas or concepts. 
  • Stop the monopolistic behavior of textbook corporations who hold the majority of standardized testing market share by preventing these companies from producing standardized tests.
  • End the practice of using students’ standardized testing scores to determine how much funding a school will receive. 
  • Safeguard nationwide sexual health education, ban “abstinence-only” education, and consistently update teaching materials with the most recent research on contraception, anatomy, and gender diversity.
  • Pass the College for All Act (H.R. 2730), which provides for free community college and eliminates tuition and fees for all public universities for nearly 80% of families.
  • Cancel student loan debt and substantially reform federal student aid by capping interest rates or providing zero-interest loans, expand loan forgiveness for certain borrowers, and aggressively enforce fraud and mismanagement by loan service providers.
Nationwide Criminal Justice Reform
  • Co-govern with youth organizations and activists to explore ways on a federal level to close juvenile detention centers nationwide and replace them with well-funded community centers that provide holistic and wrap-around social services including housing. 
  • Prevent prosecutors from charging juveniles as adults in criminal court, which perpetuates racism. 
  • Pass a law to codify the “disparate impacts” test for proving racial discrimination by prosecutors.
  • Enable claims of racial discrimination to be heard in a federal civil court under Title XI or the 14th Amendment and use the Office of Civil Rights to sue state and local governments who violate equal protection under the law.
  • Repeal the “Three Strikes Law,” all forms of federal mandatory minimums for sentencing, and reform the requirements for sentencing enhancements.
  • Establish a federal program to expunge criminal convictions for marijuana possession and other non-violent crimes.
  • Ban employment inquiries into an applicant’s felony history.
  • Ban any barrier to civil rights levied upon convicted individuals, including the right to vote, the right to receive supportive housing, the right to serve within the military, and the right to receive welfare.
  • Ensure that all federally incarcerated individuals have the ability and opportunity to vote.
  • Legalize marijuana.
  • Ban prison sentences for drug use and possession and instead provide substance use rehabilitation programs for individuals addicted to drugs.
  • Limit invasion of privacy and continuous surveillance by parole officers.
  • Ban drug interdiction programs that use traffic stops to target black and brown individuals without probable cause.
  • Reform asset forfeiture rules and warrantless police seizures of personal property.
  • Require law enforcement officers to inform citizens of their right to refuse warrantless searches before such searches can be conducted
  • Require community-oriented training for law enforcement.
  • Establish a federal oversight entity to identify racial disparities in prosecutions and law enforcement practices.
  • Ban private prisons.
  • Pass laws requiring prosecutors to exhaust all restorative justice approaches before seeking a prison sentence.
  • Routinely utilize federal authority to investigate and prosecute prison abuse, and shut down prisons with egregious or repetitive violations of human rights.
  • Ban prosecuting attorneys from being present in parole hearings.
  • Mandate that local governments assume the procedural fees of a defendant’s conviction, which saddle defendants with debt.
  • Couple any restorative justice reform with community-based rehabilitation facilities, mental health facilities, and vocational programs, instead of only offering these programs in prisons.
  • Address systemic racism within the criminal justice system by using the “disparate impact” test to prove discrimination by law enforcement and prosecutors, which only requires defendants to show that a policy or practice disproportionately affects individuals of a certain race and not that individuals of a certain race were explicitly targeted.
Make our Law Enforcement and Immigration Systems Fair
  • Support massive divestment from law enforcement to social services and outreach workers better trained to handle drug addiction, mental health crises, and homelessness in a non-punitive approach at the state and local levels 
  • Pass federal laws to prosecute law enforcement officers who commit misconduct or civil rights violations based on racism or violating Constitutional rights.
  • Mandate and fund body cam technology nationwide.
  • Abolish qualified immunity for law enforcement officers and ban officers who violate individual Constitutional rights from holding a law enforcement position in the future.
  • Defund the NSA and the drug divisions of the FBI, DEA, and CIA.
  • Demilitarize local police departments and prevent the sale of military-grade weapons to law enforcement departments, with rare exceptions for specialized units with training.
  • Ban the use of 287(g) agreements that allow local law enforcement agencies and jails to report the immigration status of individuals to ICE, regardless of whether or not the individual has been convicted of a crime.
  • Abolish ICE and ban immigration detention centers, which essentially operate as for-profit prisons when an individual has not necessarily committed any crime.
  • Dramatically increase the annual permitted intake of refugees from Afghanistan and other war-torn regions.
  • Broaden the legal definition of “asylum” and establish new procedures for a fast track to citizenship for undocumented immigrants fleeing violence and oppression.
  • End the policy of separating families at our borders and establish a federal oversight committee to investigate the past use of the family separation policy.
  • Publicize the proven economic benefit of fair immigration and naturalization processes for our nation and dispel the fear-mongering lies that immigrants increase crime rates, rely on government welfare, and are replacing jobs.
Income Security
  • Establish a Universal Basic Income (UBI) to support young adults in an incredibly tight and volatile job market to achieve economic mobility.
  • Raise the federal minimum wage and require the minimum wage to function as an automatic stabilizer for inflation each fiscal year.
  • Expand vocational education and trade schools, particularly in green technology and restorative climate fields.
  • Create a streamlined federal program that connects young adults to participating employers in exchange for federal rebates.
  • Mandate that the official federal definition of “unemployment” remove structural employment,” which occurs when an individual is laid off from an employer due to company reorganization and not changes in the supply/demand for labor. 
  • Support pioneering employers who implement 4-day work weeks and hybrid/remote work options for its employees.
  • Implement and fund free financial literacy courses in underfunded communities and schools.
  • Protect and expand Social Security by taxing the rich through a wealth tax.
  • Create federal grant opportunities for the formation of new labor unions.
Housing Security
  • Acknowledge that private companies have created artificial scarcity within the housing market by maintaining housing shortages in order to gouge prices. The government must step in to promote the construction or acquisition of municipal housing to counteract market manipulation by these private companies.
  • Utilize eminent domain to convert vacant properties owned by major corporate developers into permanent affordable housing.
  • Support, fund, and lead efforts to temporarily convert empty hotels into housing for our nation’s homeless population until permanent public housing options are successfully built.
  • Establish a tax on any home left vacant by real estate developers.
  • Mandate a certain fraction of housing within every zip code contains an affordable housing covenant and enable cities to renew such covenants.  Provide tax benefits and subsidies to owners.  Mandate that affordable housing covenants should be required for housing in any location with close proximity to real estate development projects to combat gentrification.
  • Work with state and local governments to increase housing supply by updating zoning laws to allow multi-family homes to be built in areas currently zoned for single-use homes.
  • Strictly regulate Airbnb and other short-term rental companies to prevent these companies from being incentivized to keep homes vacated.
  • Implement a federal tax on real-estate flipping by developers who purchase wide swaths of property and then resell for inflated prices after a short period of time.
  • Limit rental rates established by corporate investment firms buying large quantities of real estate nationwide.

What This Will Do For Us

Our government has a responsibility to ensure its children and young people are set up for success. Yet, our politicians and leaders are doing a terrible job in upholding their responsibilities to youths in the United States. If we want to truly create a better world and a just future where they can thrive, we need to co-govern and include them at the decision-making table on pressing issues that affect them. This is how we can start putting our youth and our communities first.

*Policy Made in Collaboration with Young Voices.

The Current Reality


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