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Schools fight for funding while jails get a free pass

Maris Arnold
Tuesday May 21, 2002

To the Editor: 

We recently read of hundreds of children and teachers trekking to Sacramento to plead for no reduction in educational funding at this time of a supposed state budget deficit. I’m sure the prison guard union didn’t have to send busloads [of demonstrators] to get increased prison construction funding. I’ll bet a couple of representatives were more than enough to gain access to key decision makers because California nationally ranks no. 1 in prison construction funding and 43 in funding for education. If this ratio were turned around, all school children might have toilet paper in school bathrooms, up-to-date textbooks, computer hook-ups, and perhaps even art supplies. If this ratio — a bona fide punitive misplacement of priorities if ever there were one — were reversed, we might even have specialized public schools for music, art, and science, as has New York City. 

Since children are now involved, they and their parents, together with teachers, must make the connection between the 1-to-43 ratio and demand a huge cut in prison construction funding, and having those millions go to education instead. Children, parents, and teachers have to do it because our state representatives aren’t. 

The bottom line is our future, dotted with either prisons or well-equipped, well-designed schools. 


- Maris Arnold