It’s Time to Spend More Money on Schools than we do on Prisons

Secretary of Education John B. King wrote an op-ed for Education Week that highlights a disturbing trend: We invest far more money in locking up our brown and black children than we do educating them, according to this first-of-its-kind report.

A state-by-state analysis of spending on corrections and education by the Department of Education revealed:

“Over the past three decades, state and local budgets for prisons and jails grew more than twice as fast as spending on public elementary and secondary education, when adjusted for inflation. Even when population changes are factored in, 23 states increased per-capita spending on corrections at more than double the rate of increases in per-pupil K-12 spending.”

Latinos and Blacks make up the majority of the incarcerated population in the United States. Education has long been linked to lower incarceration rates, higher employment rates and even longer lifespans. However, since the 1980s states have been increasing their investments in corrections at significantly higher rates than in education.

Under Obama’s administration, the federal government has taken numerous steps to reduce recidivism and help prevent at-risk children from getting in trouble in the first place. However, King argues that educators, schools, and states can do far more than the federal government can to reduce incarceration.

“Every year our schools suspend roughly 2.8 million students — the vast majority of them for noncriminal activities – and refer a quarter million students to police.”

We must demand that our schools and our legislators focus on our kids succeeding, not on locking them up.

Read King’s op-ed here

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Brenda Benitez

Brenda Benitez

Brenda Benitez is the daughter of Mexican immigrants and grew up in Chicago, IL with her 4 brothers and sisters. She recently graduated from Pomona College in Claremont, CA, where she studied Public Policy with a concentration in Psychology. She is passionate about education and immigration reform. Thanks to scholarships for both high school and college, Brenda had the opportunity to attend high performing private schools, and her interest in education is born of the realization that too few low-income students have access to this type of education. Furthermore, her own family’s struggle with the immigration system inspired her to be active in the immigration reform movement since a young age. Brenda is currently an intern at Education Post.

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