In the mid 1960ies, California was ranked fifth in the United States in per pupil spending on education. During those years, California built one of the finest university systems and community college systems in the country. People from other countries and states came to California to learn how to implement colleges. The people of California had a purpose, a vision and a will to create an unsurpassed educational system.
With the cuts of recent years, we have started the process of dismantling our educational system. Expected cuts in future years are Draconian and will do serious damage which it will take decades to overcome.
In 2012, California is in rank 42 in per pupil spending. Below California are Arizona, Idaho, Mississippi, Nevada, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Utah. Per pupil spending for 2010/11 for California is $8,689. Rank #1 is New York with $17,750, twice the amount of California.
In 2012, it costs $44,563 to incarcerate a prisoner for a year in California, the highest cost in the nation. That cost is almost the price of a year at Harvard University with room and board. The average cost per prisoner for the U.S. is $28,817. We are currently building the best prisons in the country. We’re doing to prisons now what we did to education in the 1960ies.
So let me get this right:
We went from #5 to #42 in education.
We are at #1 in prison expenses.
A society’s values are reflected by the things it spends its money on. If I drive a Hummer, a minivan, a Prius or a 1965 VW Beetle, you are going to draw conclusions about my lifestyle and my values.
Right now – in California – we’re building prisons and we’re dismantling education, systematically, ruthlessly.
Big question: Are we #1 in prison expenses because we’re #42 in education?