Report: 11 states spend more on prisons than higher education

According to a new report by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 11 states spend more money on correctional facilities than public research universities.

The report outlines how many states have cut spending on higher education while increasing budgets for jails and prisons.

Higher education spending didn’t start to fall once the recession started. Funding for higher education in many states begin toppling back in 1990 from 14.6 percent to just 9.4 percent in 2014.

Michigan, Oregon, Arizona, Vermond, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Delaware, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Colorado, and Connecticut all failed to make the cut. Each state has a higher budget for jails and prisons than public research universities.

Adjusted for inflation, spending on elementary and secondary education increased by nearly 70 percent while corrections saw an increase of over 140 percent between 1986 and 2013.

In Michigan, nearly 25 percent of the state’s spending from general fund expenditures went towards corrections compared to just 15 percent on higher education.

The percentages are much closer in other states like Rhode Island and Delaware but corrections spending still gets a larger percentage.

Oregon seems to be the worst defender. Less than 5 percent of general fund expenditures are dedicated to higher education but the state spends nearly 15 percent of that money on correctional facilities.

Bottom line is that too many states invest in faux rehabilitation methods and not enough on student engagement. Imagine if we invested that money upfront in our troubled youth instead of putting it towards locking them up. It takes a fundamental understanding that it NEEDS to happen though – something that generally is lacking in the U.S. education system.

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