Prisons the biggest recipient of Alabama’s education stimulus dollars (but not for educating)

“Alabama spent about $4,500 in education stimulus dollars per prisoner, about four times the amount per student in kindergarten through 12th grade.”

December 19, 2010,
Rena Havner Philips, Press-Register
(http://blog.al.com/live/2010/12/alabama_prisons_the_biggest_re.html)

Alabama’s biggest recipient of federal education stimulus dollars thus far is not a local school system or a college: It’s the Department of Corrections, according to a Press-Register analysis.

The agency has received $118 million of $1.1 billion in stimulus funding doled out to the state by the U.S. Department of Education since 2009. The money covered health care costs for 26,000 inmates, and salaries and benefits for about 4,200 corrections officers and other employees for three and a half months, officials said.

The spending was legal: Governors were allowed to give up to 18 percent of the funding to areas other than education, such as public safety.

Nonetheless, Alabama spent about $4,500 in education stimulus dollars per prisoner, about four times the amount per student in kindergarten through 12th grade.

Also, while Alabama claims to have saved or created 5,825 jobs per quarter with stimulus funds for education, according to the U.S. Department of Education, 1,725 of those jobs apparently were nowhere near a classroom.

“If we could’ve had that $118 million,” Baldwin County schools Superintendent Alan Lee said of school systems in general, “we could’ve given the prisons less business.”

Studies have shown that students who fail classes and drop out are more likely to go to prison than those who do well in school.

Mobile County’s school system — the state’s largest — received the second-most stimulus money after prisons, at $77 million. That was an average of $1,233 for each of its approximately 62,000 students.

Read the rest here.

Graph of spending at http://blog.al.com/live//print.html

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