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U.S. Department of Education: States Increased Prison Spending Five Times Faster Than Education Spending

U.S. Department of Education: States Increased Prison Spending Five Times Faster than Education Spending

“Our country has prioritized spending on prisons instead of classrooms,” said Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor to President Obama in a recent release from the Department of Education.

That statement rings true when considering new information about just how much more money states are spending on incarcerating individuals versus educating them.

In the report Trends in State and Local Expenditures on Corrections and Education, it found that seven states (Idaho, Michigan, Montana, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, and West Virginia) increased the budget for spending on corrections five times faster than doing so for public education.

Overall, spending on corrections has increased 89 percent since 1990 despite an influx of research on the phenomenon that is the school-to-prison-pipeline. Since a lack of education increases an individual’s chance of being incarcerated, advocates routinely push for policy that works at ending the cycle but bemoan both a lack of allocated funding and support from policy leaders.

"The Department’s new report suggests that a better path forward would be increasing investments in education—from early childhood through college—which could improve skills, opportunities, and career outcomes for at-risk children and youth, particularly if the additional funds are focused on high-poverty schools,” the Department said.

It’s a good day for the Department to mention investment in early childhood education; earlier in the day, a report on the country’s early educator workforce found that early educators are significantly underpaid and undersupported in every single state.

Another relevant topic the Department made mention of is its efforts to encourage higher education institutions to remove barriers that prevent students with criminal history from applying. This week, a group of 33 mayors led by the mayor of Los Angeles united to ask colleges and universities to not ask students about their criminal history until after the initial application.

"The Education Department...called on colleges and universities to remove barriers that can prevent the estimated 70 million citizens with criminal records from pursuing higher education, including considering the chilling effect of inquiring early in the application process whether prospective students have ever been arrested.”

Read the full release.

Nicole Gorman, Senior Education World Contributor


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