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Education is Key to Public Safety
By Justice Policy Institute
Published: 07/23/2012

Student bus netbritish  stock free images WASHINGTON, D.C. — According to a study released by the Justice Policy Institute (JPI), policymakers in D.C. need to look beyond policing and incarceration when it comes to the city’s public safety strategy. Instead, they should adopt a holistic approach that prevents justice system involvement in the first place. In particular, education has been shown to reduce contact with the justice system both for youth and adults. The District has a troubling history of lagging behind the rest of the nation in ensuring the educational success of its students, particularly those from communities of color. As people who experience barriers to educational achievement are disproportionately represented in the criminal justice system, it makes good sense to focus on improving education outcomes as a way to increase public safety.

The Education of D.C.: How Washington D.C.’s investments in education can help increase public safety investigates the intersection of public safety and education and the troubling disparities that exist in the city. In Wards 7 and 8, which are home to the greatest percentage of the school-aged population, there is serious need to commit resources to level the playing field so youth there can meet their potential. For example, the D.C. Public School Preschool program only has space for approximately 18.4 percent of youth living in the District under the age of five, despite early childhood education being linked to improved outcomes for youth.

“Investments in education lead to better paying jobs, stronger community ties and a decreased risk for crime,” said Tracy Velázquez, executive director of JPI. “There’s plenty of ink spilled to point out the mistakes of D.C.’s youth, but not enough used to talk about what we adults can do to help the City’s kids succeed. Supporting public safety means investing in our youth; and the place to start is in the classroom.”

As The Education of D.C. points out, there is remarkable disparity in educational attainment across D.C. From 2006-2008, nearly all (99 percent) adult Whites 25 years and older had completed a high school education; comparatively, 80 percent of Blacks and 57 percent of Hispanics had received a high school degree. This crisis begins at the elementary school level; by fourth grade, there is already a 62 percentage point gap in the number of students reading at or above grade level.

“The right answer – and the right thing to do -- is to keep young people in school,” added Joseph B. Tulman, Director of the Took Crowell Institute at the U.D.C. David A. Clarke School of Law. “Pushing children who miss school into the delinquency system defies common sense; it is counter-productive. When authorities use aversive responses and promote punitive policies, they increase kids’ alienation from school and decrease the likelihood that those kids will pass to the next grade and ultimately graduate from high school. We know what works: school-wide positive behavioral programs, along with individualized services for students who have particularly difficult circumstances that contribute to school exclusion and absences.”

The Education of D.C. includes a number of recommendations for crafting an effective public safety strategy by supporting D.C.’s youth and investing in smart, proven education policies:
  • Invest more money into education instead of the criminal justice system. States with higher levels of educational attainment also have crime rates lower than the national average. By choosing to invest in providing more resources for education, Washington, D.C. could implement a long term public safety strategy to reduce justice system involvement and costs, invest in youth and further strengthen communities.

  • Invest more in parks and recreation, after school care and mentoring programs. Providing children with safe spaces to play and programming to enhance their education and further build community ties can help to reduce justice system involvement promote positive life outcomes.

  • Target District resources to combat low levels of educational attainment in the city. Emphasis should be placed on providing increased investments and resources to Wards 7 and 8. These wards have the greatest percentage of D.C.’s children, the lowest incomes and the least educational attainment. Through increased educational investments in these communities, D.C. can begin to close the educational attainment gap between wards and communities of color. These investments would provide youth the opportunity to avoid justice system involvement and engage city officials in creating communities focused on education and public safety.

  • Implement policies that keep youth in school. Use evidence-based strategies to address root causes of truancy, and review school policies and procedures to ensure students are not being suspended or expelled unnecessarily.

  • Invest in early educational programs. Continued investments in early childhood education can help to increase positive life outcomes for D.C.’s youth. Enacting policies and programs and allocating available resources to further increase the number of 3- and 4- year-olds enrolled in preschool and pre-kindergarten can increase overall levels of educational attainment, community investment and reduce justice system involvement.

  • Collect more and better data. Improving both educational and justice system data collection can help to further understand the impact and effectiveness of current programs and to better understand where further investment in resources is needed.

To read The Education of D.C., CLICK HERE. For additional information, please contact Jason Fenster at (202) 558-7974 x306 or jfenster@justicepolicy.org. The Education of D.C. is the first in a series of research briefs that will be released by JPI in 2012 to show how the District could improve public safety and outcomes for youth through positive social investments.

For more JPI reports on supporting D.C. youth and crafting smart justice policies, please visit our website at www.justicepolicy.org.

The Justice Policy Institute, based in Washington, DC, is working to reduce the use of incarceration and the justice system and promote policies that improve the well-being of all people and communities. For more information, please visit www.justicepolicy.org.



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  9. Fred Davis on 08/02/2012:

    There is a vast difference between allowing socialist "money changers" "grooming" students by using psycho-politics and then taking money from those who actually worked with real jobs to support the schools and their own families in the past who may differ with what "they believe" is best as a collective whole. "Change agents" subtly steal by redistribution of wealth by activist judges and laws. Just as "redefining marriage" is creating a crises and dividing people on purpose, many are now censoring words subtly by regulation. If one uses a word deemed inappropriate even though that word would be correct by etymology it could be seen as harassment today. By changing the original purpose of Common Laws on incest they have removed the glue that holds the traditional family unit together and the priority of position by authority and order in the family. Now the traditional family has been reversed with the children taken from the womb by the government and are imprinted into socialist propaganda, the women follow and pool boy husband follows her. This is exactly the concepts of Hitler and what he taught. The teacher recently screaming like a screech owl at a calm student for not worshiping a socialist president should have been fired immediately but the unions stand behind those "money changers" that are supporting them as they did since the labor unions opened up the juvenile justice system in order to block competition in the progressive movement of 192O when the Republicans "used" Jane Addams to create "adolescence" and thus a third venue of economic surplus for the unions. What a con job that was.

  10. Fred Davis on 08/01/2012:

    I have no problem with education or safety. Groups can willingly get donations to help with those things. I paid for the education of my children by working and they went to private schools when we had little heat in our home. We never got food stamps. We thought it was being parasitical. We paid for public schools for others against our will through property taxes. Once a property is paid for there should be no property tax. That is like a landowner being a tenant on his own property. It is a socialist concept. It is like rent. Is this the Soviet Union? There is no free lunch

  11. jamestown0509 on 08/01/2012:

    Overall I think it's important to educate juveniles while they are incarcerated. Many of the kids we have seen pass their GED and excel academically and personally. Although a few will return to a life of crime (mostly due to peer pressure and economics) I have talked to a lot of those kids that are turning away from crime. Giving kids something to do after school is an excellent idea, this is working in many cities and urban areas with YMCA, Boys and Girls Clubs and other organizations.

  12. Fred Davis on 07/25/2012:

    "Investing more money" has been the excuse that progressive politicians have been using for a long time. I am from the Maryland, D.C. area. Maryland collected more money from the citizens in the Bethesda, Rockville, Gaithersburg area and the schools were great. Then undocumented students moved in, and those with money started leaving. This is why money alone never solves the problem. I was getting gas in D.C. one day and two men walked over to me in trench coats and asked me for money. One had a gun. The other wanted my car keys. Then they wanted my watch. Someone saw this and called the police. My watch was a gift and I refused to give it and an argument ensued. The man that called the police when he saw this happening was surprised to see that the police department was right down the street, but they stopped in for a snack while the gunman was intimidating me. I simply held my ground and my watch and told them they would have to shoot me. I kept my watch because it was a gift. I will give to the needy but not by force or coercion. In Rockville, Maryland, as time went by, many of the working people left and those dependent upon government stayed and the schools are going downhill now. The government is still pouring more money into there than ever. This is the culmination of many years of the breakdown of the traditional family unit. The single parent family never works. This is not an accident that the government gets a child as it comes out of the womb and is both educator and babysitter. West Virginia has issues with this also, and a lot of those schools are white. It is not a black-white issue. These families have been politically emasculated and taught that the government is their source of supply. It is hard to change mushy brains when they are taught such codependency at an early age. The government has become a change agent, rather than an agent of change for what is right. The change agent is selling something that is a con-job and cheap, but looks good. The agent of change teaches one how to accomplish their own goals and not to follow the trends of the masses. When I was in prison in Hagerstown, Maryland, I taught literacy and there were those out of Baltimore who had high school diplomas that did not know phonics and had a government diploma. I taught one seventeen year old about the difference between reading and functional literacy. I started off with Dr. Seuss. In the end he was able to get his GED and move ahead because he could actually do things for himself now. He was white. It is not a race issue. Those guys that attempted to take my watch were trapped and had nowhere to go in their own minds. The fatherless and widows are in need and the government is going broke, and it is a symptom of the systematic destruction of the traditional family. As long as the money is thrown at these issues as a band-aid of an infectious, cancerous, political ideology, it will get worse. Words are powerful things, and they imprint the mind. Con-artists and change agents activate change by pressure and use pseudo-empathy to sell the product at the expense of the next generation of children that will be paying the bills that are the result of the politicians spending as surrogate parents. Professor Carroll Quigley warns us of such deception when he talks about tribalism and the Africanization of America. Tribalism is modern-day progressivism. In Annapolis, Maryland, up until 1950, the Jews had residential restrictions and so did the African American community. Once the restrictions were lifted the Jews moved and now that whole area is codependent upon government. Maryland has become more progressive than the Soviet Union. If it was all about money, then I should have been given union wages while teaching within the system. If any of you guys know who they call the Grey Fox, who used to work in Hagerstown, tell him I said, Hi. He was a great guard who worked the night shift back in 1995.

  13. Fred Davis on 07/23/2012:

    Generally when I hear about the connection of public safety and education somehow I feel a hand reaching for my wallet. I left home at 13, supported myself, hardly ever saw a police officer,sold TV guides to contribute to what I wanted to buy while painting fences to get a car by 15. It cost me 33 dollars. A 50 Buick. I never saw food stamps or a predator because they were afraid of my cohorts or friends. No one shot up the school or other students. One student was accidentally shot while hunting and that was a big deal. No one blamed the gun that shot him and/or condemned the young man that accidentally shot him. When I ran out of money, I worked serving lunch at the school and was proud of myself for not being a parasite and not depending on momma by 13 years of age. I am 67 years old now and still here and I feel like 18 in my mind.

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