Monday, March 31, 2008

Pay Now or Pay Later

Nearly 70 percent of dropouts begin high school at low literacy levels in NYC and many of those dropouts end up in the prison system. Mayor Bloomberg, by all accounts is a smart business man, and Chancellor Klein who heads the NYC public school system must recognize that the failure to invest wisely in public education will continue to drain the city coffers.

What are the figures often used? In 2004 it was estimated that it cost around $59,000 per year to keep a criminal in jail in NYC! Even though the number of people incarcerated in the state has dropped over the last few years, the "prison class" consists of about 63,000 individuals in jails around the state and a large proportion of those inmates come from NYC.

Despite the fact that NYS spends more per capita per student than all other states and at the per capita cost of around $13,000 per year for NYC, it only makes sense to put the money into instruction in our schools.

One group made the logical connection and is reaching into the community of out-of-school youths, 16 to 24 years old, with reading levels below 8th grade, who are interested in preparing for the GED and/or improving their skills.

The Youth Development Institute (YDI) began the Community Education Pathways to Success (CEPS), which provides the academic, vocational and personal support people with low skill levels need to become eligible for GED programs and to succeed in post-secondary life. CEPS participants, who rarely attended their high schools, have become readers and made gains on standardized tests.

No one argues that paying $59,000 per annum to incarcerate youths is too much money. But you always get an argument about what it costs to effectively educate our children. Well, we can pay now, or we can pay later!

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