$228 billion

U.S. spending on criminal justice in 2006-2007, according to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics; prisons and jails accounted for just 33 percent of the total.

$562 billion

U.S. education expenditures in 2006-2007, according to the U.S. Department of Education. Current K-12 spending accounts for $477 billion or nearly the entire total.

$1.5 billion

Amount spent on prison construction in 2006-2007. It accounts for less than 1 percent of criminal justice spending.

$63 billion

Amount spent on school construction in 2006-2007. It accounts for 11 percent of overall education spending and 13 percent of K-12 spending.

Earlier this month, NAACP President Benjamin Jealous declared that the civil rights group’s Gates Foundation-sponsored education agenda would include a focus on moving spending away from prisons and incarceration to what he declared to be an underfunded K-12 education system. But as the statistics show, education spending outpaces criminal justice spending by a two-to-one margin — and school construction funding outpaces prison construction spending by more than 40-to-1.

As Dropout Nation noted this past January, the reality isn’t so much that the America doesn’t spend too much on prisons or that too much is spent on education. It’s that the country spends far too much on both inefficiently and ineffectively. We spend $228 billion on criminal justice badly largely because we spend $562 billion on education abysmally. So long as we continue a status quo in American public education that would best comparable to medical malpractice, millions of our kids will end up behind bars.