For years I’ve heard that we’re spending more on our prisons than our schools. But “Misplaced Priorities,” the report released today from the NAACP examining the cost investing in the penitentiary system even as we divest in education, is simply staggering.
- Did you know that we have 25% of the world’s prisoners but only 5% of the world’s people?
- Or that it’s more likely for a black man to end up in prison here in America than it was for one to be incarcerated in South Africa under Apartheid?
- How does this compare to education costs? In many states the choices are absurd: In Connecticut they spend $400,000 a year to incarcerate a juveniles but only $10,000 to educate them.
- And the trends point to more of the same: a Pew Center study of state spending patterns between 1987 and 2007 found that spending on corrections grew 127% while higher education spending grew 21%.
Yes, it’s the stuff pro-education liberals have been saying for decades – support schools not prisons! What’s crucial about this report is that NAACP’s collected evidence makes such fiscal good sense, it’s attracting some strange bedfellows including Newt Gingrich, anti-taxation libertarian Grover Norquist, the American Conservative Union and the Executive Committee of Corrections among others. Will more bipartisanism like this keep my daughter's teacher from getting a pink slip? No guarantees (as you'll see from the following video) but it's a step in the right direction...