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NAACP report: Misplaced Priorities: Under Educate, Over Incarcerate

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tpsbmam Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-07-11 08:45 AM
Original message
Edited on Thu Apr-07-11 08:51 AM by tpsbmam
The report was released this morning and I've downloaded the PDF and read just a little. I actually jumped right to the "Putting Education First By Enacting Smart and Safe Reforms" section. And here's why I did that.

The coterie behind the study, in addition to the NAACP, is a group not to be trusted at all. Some of them are represented below, which is a list of speakers at the news conference announcing the study.

  • Rod Paige, former Secretary of Education under President George W. Bush
  • Grover Norquist, President of Americans for Tax Reform
  • David Keene, former Chairman of the American Conservative Union and of counsel with The Carmen Group, a Washington-based governmental affairs firm
  • Pat Nolan, of Prison Fellowship, who worked with former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich to establish the conservative Right On Crime coalition
  • Mike Jimenez, a member of the executive committee of Corrections USA, which represents 80,000 corrections officers nationwide, as well as president of the California Correctional Peace Officers Association
  • Mitchell Kapor, philanthropist and founder of Lotus 1-2-3;
  • Lindsay McCluskey, President of the United States Student Association

Thom Hartmann opined that Ben Jealous "sold his soul to the devil" when he joined up with the likes of Norquist, Paige & Keene on this project.

I agree and I disagree. Thom hadn't read the report yet and I've only read a portion. Here's where I think Thom is dead on, 100% right.

The motivations of the neocon cabal who never gave a rat's ass about this country's young before are now clear to me, made obvious by this simple paragraph from the press release:

The NAACP announced an upcoming report that examines escalating levels of prison spending and its impact on state budgets and our nations children. Misplaced Priorities: Under Educate, Over Incarcerate uncovers a disturbing connection between high incarceration rates and poorly performing schools.

And, indeed, the scant reports on the news conference did take that message away and placed it in their headlines:

From the Jackson Mississippi Clarion Ledger: "High prison rates, low-performing schools linked"

From My Fox Memphis, a predictable "Report Links Jail Time to Bad Schools"

Yep, message delivered -- bad union teachers ---> high incarceration rates.

So, shuffle some away from prisons to a privatized school system. Gotcha. Spread the wealth, further the goal of ridding the country of teacher's unions, and sit smugly back while you further fuck up our country.

But I also disagree with Thom. The report is right in that too much money has been shifted from education into incarceration of kids and the report does urge reversing that trend. There are some good things in the report and some good reform suggestions. Here is a small sampling:

1) Changing sentencing and reforming drug laws
Of the 2.3 million people in prison in this country, half a million are in prison because they were convicted of a non-violent drug offense. Many people convicted of drug offenses were subject to a mandatory minimum sentencea long, mandatory prison term that, in most cases, no court can change, regardless of the circumstances of the crime or the costs of that prison term to taxpayers.

2) Diverting people with drug addictions from prison to treatment
According to surveys of prisoners, half of all inmates in state and federal prisons were abused or were dependent on drugs before they were imprisoned, and between 15 and 20 percent said they committed their crime to obtain money to buy drugs.90 Finding ways to divert people with drug problems from prison to treatment can help break the cycle of crime and addiction, and cut incarceration costs.

3) Using shortened prison terms as an incentive for prisoners to complete schooling and treatment One way to cut prison costs is to shorten sentences for people who complete schooling or treatment programs while they are imprisoned. These incentives achieve two goals: prisoners can demonstrate that they are motivated to put the past behind them, and these programs may help address the issues of joblessness, lack of schooling, and addiction that may have led the individuals to crime and prison in the first place.

4) Increasing the number of people who get paroled and improving their chances of success
People who have served some time in prison, depending on the state they live in, may be eligible for parole: They can return to the community as long as they complete a set of conditions, which can include obtaining and maintaining a job, remaining drug-free and sober, and paying restitution for the crime. In the past four decades, many states have restricted who can be paroled and slowed the process of release. But when done right, parole reforms can both help former prisoners plan for their eventual return to the community and allow the criminal justice system to break the cycle of crime by helping people returning home to get a job, get housing, find treatment, and get more schooling.

So, it looks like a mixed bag to me. I'll never trust the above neocon cabal and will remain skeptical about the whole endeavor because of their involvement and the "findings" of the report. I have yet to delve into the report but I suspect they're going to follow the same pattern we've seen: blame the schools and the teachers without taking into account (or sufficiently into account) the many other variables contributing to educational problems. I'll eat my words if I'm wrong, but from the focus of the press conference, I don't think I am.

Just don't throw the baby out with the bath water as Thom sort of did without reading the report. There are some good ideas in there that, given the neocon force behind the study, may actually stand a chance of getting a few cents thrown at promising programs....or, of course, they could well go in the privatization direction and create a whole new "reform" industry.

ETA link to the PDF report at the NAACP:

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tpsbmam Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-07-11 11:22 AM
Response to Original message
1. I'm fucking bumping this and I'm pissed and disgusted.
More people are reading, responding to and reccing a post about some asshole with his ass glued to a walmart toilet seat than even bothered to fucking read this. I'm outta here for a bit today -- sometimes this place just fucking disgusts me. If I'd posted this or a couple of other posts lately under a *hot* name they'd have gotten attention. Now, a report like this, which I would think would be of interest to PROGRESSIVES, and TEACHERS, fucking sinks to page three in nanoseconds.

It ain't always just the teabaggers who are pathetic. Sorry -- royally pissed.

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Octafish Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-07-11 11:25 AM
Response to Reply #1
2. Don't take it personally, tpsbmam.
When asked to use "horticulture" in a sentence at the Algonquin, Dorothy Parker observed:

"You can lead a whore to culture, but you can't make her think."
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Octafish Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-07-11 11:31 AM
Response to Original message
3. Open Air Prisons or Day Care for Urban Youth
Either way, the effect is the same: We the People are under control.

I like next door to Detroit and I've been on this for...44 years now. Without good schools, the kids have almost no chance at all to get into college. Without college, the kids have almost no chance at all to get out of poverty.

A ways back, I wrote that it costs about $25,000 per year to send a kid to Harvard. At that time, it was the same amount as was being spent to house a man for a year in the state penitentiary at Jackson. The numbers since then have changed -- near $45,000 per year for each.

Thank you for an outstanding post, tpsbmam. I'll bookmark and read it in depth as time permits.

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Brewman_Jax Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-07-11 11:40 AM
Response to Original message
4. I don't know what they're thinking
there's always money for bombs and prisons, but too many of the listed speakers are neocons and have used black people as campaign fodder. They would scream bloody murder for any spending on education, even if it's CHEAPER than maintaining prisons. But, they don't care.
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livefreest Donating Member (378 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-07-11 04:28 PM
Response to Original message
5. hope more read this
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madfloridian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-07-11 07:03 PM
Response to Original message
6. Recommending...the first two names on the list are enough to scare me.
Reading it more carefully. In the light of all that is going on in the privatization of schools in which the poor and minorities are often in charter schools with very punitive methods of discipline....I will read carefully. Jeb started this reform stuff in Florida by manipulating the needy and minorities. He did it blatantly. This is a shame.

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