Where does the nation prioritize education? A new report by the U.S. Department of Education paints a troublesome picture.
Over the past 30 years, several states and local governments have increased their spending on incarceration at three times the rate they fund schools, according to an Education Department analysis released on Thursday.
Among the findings, 23 states more than doubled their rate of per capital spending on corrections compared to per-pupil P-12 spending. Seven states increased incarceration spending five fold.
Meanwhile, in higher education, state and local budgets for college has remained flat while lawmakers increased spending on corrections 89 percent, since 1990.
“Budgets reflect our values, and the trends revealed in this analysis are a reflection of our nation’s priorities that should be revisited,” said U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. in a statement.
King called on lawmakers to invest more in children. The priority should be investing in prevention—not punishment, he added.
The United States is recognized as the world’s largest jailer. With just 5 percent of the global population, we warehouse 20 percent of the world’s prison population. The report highlights how education attainment impacts incarceration: Two-thirds of state prisoners are high school dropouts, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics.
“We can no longer afford this failure to invest in opportunity, only to lock up people once they’ve dropped out of school and turned to crime,” stated Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor to President Barack Obama.
She urged decision makers to rethink priorities and invest in people—not prisons.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education | PHOTO CREDIT: Getty