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California spends $216K on prison inmates; $8K on Oakland students

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Nicholas Kristof has a great op-ed piece in today's New York Times where he explains...

California spends $216,000 annually on each inmate in the juvenile justice system. In contrast, it spends only $8,000 on each child attending the troubled Oakland public school system, according to the Urban Strategies Council

In a pointed critique of our seeming blood lust in spending money on prisons and locking people up over health care and education. While one may quibble with the estimates, there can be no disagreement that California has lost any desire to maintain the vast education system that it was known for.

When I was little, California schools were considered the best in the country, and while Oakland had its challenged programs, it had gems like Skyline High School where I graduated.

Not any more.

The "me generation" brought us Proposition 13 and dramatic cuts in revenue to California government, all the while forgetting that it was government spending that created the "California dream" we always heard about. It created the UC system and the school system, which gave great research-oriented education opportunities to Californians and fueled the growth of the state's economy.

Now, California has developed a prison industrial complex, with jails that one can invest in on the stock market and an over-flow of people in them for some petty crimes. (Yeah, I'm still one to take a hard-line stance on cyberstalking, but I think alternatives to jail are the answer).

But this generational trend has wrecked California and I don't see anyone who seems to care enough to really change this state of affairs. Or perhaps I'm wrong. Maybe the current controversy with salary cuts in the UC system will be just the catalyst needed?

And what of Oakland's School system? I wonder of the city has taken a look at suing the State of California to keep its redevelopment revenue - in the wake of the planned "take" by the state - and using part of that for the education system.

Stay tuned.
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