The other day I picked up my local Philadelphia newspaper and I read an article which stated that Pennsylvania intends to build four new prisons for 800 million dollars. Did you know that it also takes $50,000 a year to house a prisoner? When I read this I was upset that it was so easy to build four new prisons. I knew that Governor Rendell had spent 3 months trying to get the state budget passed because he refused to put education on the chopping block. The State of Pennsylvania could educate 5 children rather than put one man or women in prison. It seems like our country’s priorities are all twisted. Other countries are investing in education and they are experiencing expansion while America is in a state of decline.
Pennsylvania was not the only state to assess its commitment to education. Students in California and other states are experiencing overcrowded classes and bus services have been cut. Students don’t vote so they are an easy target for budget cuts. The majority of children in the United States need a better education than they are experiencing right know. Filling prisons is not the solution to our problem. Too many prisoners are high school drop out. In fact they need an education if they are to change their circumstances and not return to prison after they are released.
When is this country going to face the reality that a major solution to our economic crisis is right in our own communities? There are children who need access to better instruction and they need parents who are not in a prison cell. Too many grandparents are raising children because they have no choice. It is difficult for grandparents to provide the resources and guidance that growing teenagers need. Parents need to play an active role in their child’s education at all K12 levels.
Expanding prisons is not the solution to the economic crisis. A prison my generate jobs but it does not compare to what a well educated entrepreneur can do. We need to choose business development and job creation in areas where jobs have been depleted. Why not build new schools with modern technology that will lead to more sophisticated instruction and students who are prepared to succeed in college. Many of the schools in Philadelphia are over 50 years old and the maintenance expenses are unreasonable. These old buildings are not the best places for students to learn.
It’s time to make education a priority in every state. If we continue to fill our prisons with perfectly healthy young men and women we are becoming our own worst enemy. There is a tremendous amount of talent that is sitting in a cell and wasting away. Changing a young person’s potential to end up in prison starts at birth. Children need to develop an early passion for reading and learning. Parents can be a major part of the solution. The future is within our grasp and we need to say no to prisons and yes to education. Dr Stephen Jones is an education coach and author of Seven Secrets of How to Study, Parent's Ultimate Education Guide and the Ultimate Scholarship Guide available at www.studyskills2u.com