Education and Prison Population In Texas sign now

To Whom it May Concern:

My name is Melinda Wawak and I am writing in regards to information that I have recently discovered. According to The National Education Association, Texas is the only state in the nation to reduce assistance provided to help students meet higher standards during the 2004-2005 school year. NEA's statistics show that expenditures for education per student fell by one percent. The state also dropped from 36th to 40th compared to other states educational investments. Why does Texas spend $ 1,440 per student less then the national average? Why have Texas teacher's salaries fallen for the 5th consecutive year and placed at 33rd in the country making $6,700 less then the national average? Last but not least, why does our state provide 35\% or less of the funding for our public schools? Is our educational system not important enough to our lawmakers to place higher then 40th in the nation?

In comparison to our educational system I would like to know why Texas has the largest prison population in the nation? It was my understanding that the increase in prisons back in the late 80's and 90's was to be tough on crime but why was the crime rate back in 1990 10\% above the national average and today it is 23\% above the national average? Ironically back in 1990 we had a prison population of 50,042 and today it is 168,105. It doesn't appear to me that the "tough on crime" policy worked but rather that you have taken away from my children's education. Can you explain why the entire Northeastern population of 52 million has a total inmate population of 170,000 and Texas has a population of 22.5 (which is on the high side) and an inmate population of 168,105? The Northeastern states consist of a total of nine states and I cannot understand how it is possible that Texas has as many as those states combined. There are billions of dollars being wasted on the prison system for our state that could be directed towards education. It is obvious that "tough on crime" didn't work. The figures prove that. The figures also prove that we are in the BOTTOM 10\% in the nation on education investments for our children. Do you know that our children don't have books of their own. They have a "class set". When I was in school I had a book issued for each class and I was held responsible for that book. Why are my children not allowed the same advantages I had in the 80's? Have we taken a step back in time? Last year my son and a peer passed a petition to raise awareness to the deterioration at his school. Ironically, statistics show that 60\% of Texas schools have one or more problems in regards to repairs that have not been met. I am well aware of the products that inmates provide to the states properties such as lockers, bleachers, flags, etc, but inmate labor cannot FIX those problems on the schools and I would like to know why those problems have been ignored? What about the 2500 guard shortage in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice system? We have resulted in hiring young, fresh out of high school students to oversee the "criminal element" which just so happens to rank highest in the nation. Why would we let students that have received a less fulfilling education then 90\% of the nation work in a prison system with a population that almost equals that of nine state's combined inmate population? Would it not make better since to decrease the prison population to a balance that is equal to the rest of the nation and spend those wasted tax funds on educating our children? By decreasing the prison population you would be able to increase the correctional officer's pay and afford them the training that they deserve. Keeping prisoners locked up for longer sentences is not the answer. All one has to do is look at the statistics.

I am not happy with the statistics that I have discovered and I will make it my goal to educate as many senators, state representative , educators, and anyone else that will listen. This is an absolute outrage and I believe in standing up for what is right. If you have children or grandchildren I am sure that you will agree. I am enclosing the statistics that will back my findings. I ask that you please take these very important issues into consideration as the legislature meets after the first of the year.


Melinda Wawak

Bureau of Justice Statistics; 12/6/05

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