Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Cost of Not Getting an Education

Tonight I had the opportunity to listen to the Honorable Craig Watkins, District Attorney of Dallas, TX. He spoke at the school as part of our Geo-Tech Lecture Series. The lecture series was started to bring speakers of influence in to speak about social justice and human rights issues.

Mr. Watkins is the first African American District Attorney in the U.S. He is also part of a program that has helped 16 incarcerated individuals to be released from prison through the use of DNA testing. The national program that is in place is called The Innocence Project. Today the 16th person was released. Mr. Watkins has been instrumental in the program here in Dallas.

So what is the cost of not getting an education? According to the statistics I heard tonight, 75% of those incarcerated did not graduate high school. Add that statistic with the latest statistics concerning the number of students that drop out and we are in for some serious prison building if we don't reverse the trend. Now don't get me wrong, there are plenty of people that don't get a high school degree and are great citizens, but if we continue to cause our students to "power down" when they walk in to our buildings, then we aren't helping the cause.

Another statistic thrown out this evening was the amount of money given to a school to educate a child in Dallas, was $8 a day. The amount of money given to the prison system for a person that is incarcerated is $34 per day. How does that happen? Four times as much money given per person to the prison system than to the education system?

I look forward to Mr. Watson coming back to the school to speak to our seniors in a smaller setting, and I applaud him for the tremendous work he has done, but maybe we need to rattle the cages down in the capital to help them get the funding priorities straight.

More research to do.

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