Prisons funded better than schools in Michigan

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EclectaReader Anthony sent me this link.

The Superintendent of Ithaca Public Schools in Michigan sent a letter to Republican Governor Rick Snyder in which he suggests that his students would be better off if they were treated as prisoners. That way, there would be more per-pupil-funding than there is now.

Here’s his letter:

In these tough economic times, schools are hurting. And yes, everyone in Michigan is hurting right now financially, but why aren’t we protecting schools? Schools are the one place on Earth that people look to “fix” what is wrong with society by educating our youth and preparing them to take on the issues that society has created.

One solution I believe we must do is take a look at our corrections system in Michigan. We rank nationally at the top in the number of people we incarcerate. We also spend the most money per prisoner annually than any other state in the union. Now, I like to be at the top of lists, but this is one ranking that I don’t believe Michigan wants to be on top of.

Consider the life of a Michigan prisoner. They get three square meals a day. Access to free health care. Internet. Cable television. Access to a library. A weight room. Computer lab. They can earn a degree. A roof over their heads. Clothing. Everything we just listed we DO NOT provide to our school children.

This is why I’m proposing to make my school a prison. The State of Michigan spends annually somewhere between $30,000 and $40,000 per prisoner, yet we are struggling to provide schools with $7,000 per student. I guess we need to treat our students like they are prisoners, with equal funding. Please give my students three meals a day. Please give my children access to free health care. Please provide my school district Internet access and computers. Please put books in my library. Please give my students a weight room so we can be big and strong. We provide all of these things to prisoners because they have constitutional rights. What about the rights of youth, our future?!

Please provide for my students in my school district the same way we provide for a prisoner. It’s the least we can do to prepare our students for the future…by giving our schools the resources necessary to keep our students OUT of prison.

Respectfully submitted,

Nathan Bootz
Superintendent
Ithaca Public Schools

If Republicans in Michigan get their way, our prison system may soon be privatived. As reported in Michigan Messenger, the new Emergency Financial Manager law may be the impetus. Also, the state senate passed a Department of Corrections conference report that could lead to previously shuttered jails being opened under private ownership.

The problem with this is that recent reporting by the New York Times suggests this won’t save money at all. Also, food service workers in the Michigan prison system warn that costs would rise and, more ominously, prison violence could escalate.

But Superintendent Bootz raises an interesting point — we are paying more to keep people behind bars than we are to educate our children. Looking out into the future, the more poorly educated our citizenry is, the higher the level of incarceration will end up being, driving our state costs even higher.

When you listen to Republicans talk about what their priorities are, don’t listen to what they SAY, take a look at what they DO. Their actions will tell you everything you need to know about what their priorities are. And, right now in Michigan, educating our kids doesn’t appear near the top of the list.

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