Tag: U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics


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The Statistics Department: K-12 Spending versus Criminal Justice Spending


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An argument used by some in education, most recently by a writer in the Edurati Review, is that America spends far too much money on criminal justice — including prisons…

Defenseless children photo from the Juvenile injustice series

Sometimes schools and prisons seem the same thing. But they aren't. Let's keep our kids out of them.

An argument used by some in education, most recently by a writer in the Edurati Review, is that America spends far too much money on criminal justice — including prisons — at the expense of schools. And at first, it seems valid. From the vast numbers of young black, white and Latino dropouts landing in prison to the scandals within the juvenile justice system, it is clear that improving the educational destinies of students can make it less likely for them to land behind bars. Figuring out which crimes are truly crimes worth prison time (rape, for example) and which ones are consensual acts that hurt no one but the person (physically and emotionally) and her immediate family, would also help.

But do we actually spend too much on prisons at the expense of education. Here are a few

  • Amount spent on operating and building prisons in fiscal year 2005-2006: $70 billion. Total amount on criminal justice, according to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics $214 billion.
  • Amount spent on K-12 by districts, states and the federal government in the same fiscal year: $528.7 billion, according to the U.S. Department of Education.
  • Amount spent on prison construction in 2006: $2 billion.
  • School construction spending that same year: $45 billion.

The reality isn’t so much that the America doesn’t spend too much on prisons, at least not per se; nor is it that the U.S spends too much on education. It’s that the country spends far too much on both inefficiently. This is especially true with the latter. Too much spending is caught up in a politically-driven system of teacher compensation that fails to reward high-performing teachers and pays laggards far too much. Defined-benefit pensions and unfunded retirement liabilities are sopping up much of the increases in K-12 spending. Younger teachers don’t reap the full rewards of their work until late in their careers; the high level of attrition in the teacher ranks before fifth year of service is far too high.

Given that three out of every 10 American children fail to graduate from high school, the costs of the system are far greater than the results. It’s both tragedy and travesty.

Essentially, criminal justice spending isn’t a problem. Nor is education spending a problem. Spending education funding efficiently for results is. We must do better by our children.

1 Comment on The Statistics Department: K-12 Spending versus Criminal Justice Spending

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Read: Diversity Department


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What the dropout nation is reading about:

1. John Fensterwald notes some new teachers union antics on the Race to the Top front. The NEA’s California affiliate and its locals are intoning to districts that they shouldn’t sign the memorandums of understanding required to receive Race funds. Other NEA and AFT affiliates will likely take similar steps — or even

A student at the Codman Academy charter school looks at college options.

What the dropout nation is reading about:

  1. John Fensterwald notes some new teachers union antics on the Race to the Top front. The NEA’s California affiliate and its locals are intoning to districts that they shouldn’t sign the memorandums of understanding required to receive Race funds. Other NEA and AFT affiliates will likely take similar steps — or even offer their own alternate visions (as seen in Pennsylvania) as other state legislatures ignore their lobbying and entreaties.
  2. Meanwhile in Tennessee, outgoing Gov. Phil Bredeson is pushing to use student test score data in evaluating teacher performance in a special session. The state’s largest teachers union has its own thoughts. Of course.
  3. By the way, my American Spectator colleague, Joseph Lawler, offers his own skeptical thoughts about Race to the Top, looking at Massachusett’s reform efforts (which may soon sit on Gov. Deval Patrick’s desk).  In Kentucky, the Bluegrass Policy Institute takes aim at state legislators for offering a Trojan Horse version of Race reforms (HT to EducationNews). And Jamie Davis O’Leary looks at what he describes as Ohio’s embarrasing Race reform plans.
  4. James Guthrie takes some time at Education Next to assess whether school reform is actually happening. He has his answer. I would say that it is happening, but still incomplete.
  5. Monise Seward is none too pleased with the results from the Southern Education Foundation’s report on public education in the southern states. Her biggest issue: “the correlation between minority status and/or poverty with low academic expectations by the ‘experts’ and public education institutions.” The lack of discussion about over-diagnosis of black and Latino males (along with white males) is particularly jarring to her.
  6. At the New York Review of Books, David Kaiser and Lovisa Stannow read over the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics’ report on sex abuse in juvenile prisons and jails. Let’s just say that they are more shocked by the evidence than yours truly. If anything, America’s juvenile justice system is sometimes even more shameful in the pervasive neglect, abuse and denial of due process rights to children than the woeful public schools this publication covers.
  7. EdTrust releases their report on addressing achievement gaps in the age of Race to the Top and No Child. From its perspective, it isn’t enough to just close the gap. More thoughts from yours truly this weekend.
  8. Mike Antonucci notes that the president of the AFT’s California affiliate has some choice thoughts about parents who support the newly-enacted “parent trigger” in the state’s Race to the Top-driven school reforms passed yesterday. No comment.
  9. This headshaker of the week comes from the News Leader in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. And the lack of thought starts at the headline: “We can’t let charter schools steal funds from public education.” Pardon me, but public charter schools are part of the public education system, right? Or am I — and virtually everyone else covering education — just dreaming?
  10. While Michigan politicians aren’t even considering handing over control of Detroit’s traditional district to Mayor Dave Bing, Wisconsin is still picking over whether Milwaukee’s mayor will gain control over that city’s public schools. As reported in the Journal-Sentinel, one parent opposed to mayoral control asks: “How in the world does excluding parents from selecting their school leadership encourage them to participate in the education of their children?” Everyone in the hearing savvy about the politics of school boards elections likely laughed under their breath and paid him no more mind.
  11. And finally, the debate between education civil rights activists such as Gary Orfield and the charter school movement over diversity in charters is the subject of my latest National Review report. As I hinted at in the piece, it’s easy for those in the ivory tower to go on and on about diversity when they have the choice to not send their children to the nation’s worst dropout factories and academic failure mills. Integration only works if the schools are of the kind that all children can achieve their respective educational destinies.

3 Comments on Read: Diversity Department

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