A snapshot of our schools and community: 28% of the class at Minneapolis Roosevelt High school graduated last year. The Minneapolis school system had an overall 53% graduation rate. Blaming teachers for failing schools is wrong. Teachers teach because they love learning and children. It is a political vote getter to blame educators for our larger institutional failures. The system needs to make learning possible. Politicians are missing the core issues.
129 African American men from Hennepin County enrolled in the University of Minnesota’s three largest colleges between 1994 to 1997 (African-American Men Project.)
About 15% of Minnesota students were threatened or injured with a weapon on school property last year. Nationally, in 2002, there were 659,000 violent crimes involving students at school, and 720,000 violent crimes away from school.
Almost 20% of Minnesota students carried a weapon on school property in 1995.
About 15% of Minnesota female students become pregnant before they are 18.
Almost 10% of Minnesota students attempted suicide in 1995.
Minnesota prisons have grown by over 10% per year for the last two years with signs of even greater growth next year.
Ratio of adult inmates in Minnesota State Prisons to corrections officers in 2004: 4.5 to 1.
Ranking of the United States staff to student ratio internationally this year:
we are 91st among the 189 UN member nations (there are only twenty other industrialized nations.)
Most of the 14 million people jailed each year are parents who leave children behind.
Most women in jail have two or more children and are often single parents. The women’s correction facility at Shakopee used to have a recidivism rate of 23% when public policy was on rehabilitation not retribution. Today Shakopee’s recidivism rate is the same as the rest of the nation (66%.)
In 2001, 8776 Minnesota juveniles were arrested for violent crimes. Wisconsin arrested 134 juveniles for murder in 2001.
Most jailed juveniles are following a father or brother into the criminal justice system. Once in the criminal justice system, juveniles learn from the tough hardened criminals what the rest of their lives are going to be like. Almost 20% of juveniles are tried as adults in the U.S. today.
Over 50% of the juveniles in the Juvenile Justice System have diagnosable mental illnesses. This figure probably holds true for children who pass through the Child Protection System.
The average middle class child starts school with a vocabulary of 2100 words. The average poor child starts school with a vocabulary of 600 words. As a guardian ad-Litem, I have come to know many children in the child protection system that can barely communicate at six or seven years old.
Educational and mental health services work to keep kids off the streets and out of jail. Productive member of our community always cost us less than criminals or child mothers.
Investing in early childhood programs and mental health services could actually save us money, and certainly make our streets safer, and our communities more pleasant to live in.
It’s not so much about money– Minnesota’s 2001 GDP (gross domestic product) ranks greater than Austria, Saudi Arabia, Poland, Hong Kong, Denmark, and a hundred other nations.
So if it’s not money, what is it?
What you do to your children, they will do to your society (Pliny, 2500 years ago)