With cash starved public educational facilities and districts, it would come as no surprise that public schools currently being closed or on the ‘list’ might be turned into prisons.  After all, with prison population rising and with good pay for prison guards, communities all over the US just might go for the argument that converting ‘failing schools’ into successful prisons, corporate or course, would be the answer to budget woes, employment, community development and of course the removal of the ‘cavity’ the right wing likes to call public schools.

As many colleges find themselves swimming in debt and ‘cyber learning’ now replacing education we might find that these large college campuses throughout the US could also turned to prisons.  Why not?  Or in the alternative perhaps they will reinvent themselves as gambling casinos which, as I wrote regarding Harvard and will soon write regarding Brandeis University and Sonoma State University in California, they are any way.

Nathan Bootz, a school superintendent in Michigan wrote a letter to the governor of Michigan requesting that his school be turned into a prison where the state’s funding shortage isn’t having quite the impact it’s having on his schools.  Novel idea or practical joke?  Perhaps the sardonicism is within both camps.  Here is the letter from Bootz to Snyder.

Dear Governor Snyder,

In these tough economic times, schools are hurting. And yes, everyone in Michigan is hurting right now financially, but why aren’t we protecting schools? Schools are the one place on Earth that people look to “fix” what is wrong with society by educating our youth and preparing them to take on the issues that society has created.

One solution I believe we must do is take a look at our corrections system in Michigan. We rank nationally at the top in the number of people we incarcerate. We also spend the most money per prisoner annually than any other state in the union. Now, I like to be at the top of lists, but this is one ranking that I don’t believe Michigan wants to be on top of.

Consider the life of a Michigan prisoner. They get three square meals a day. Access to free health care. Internet. Cable television. Access to a library. A weight room. Computer lab. They can earn a degree. A roof over their heads. Clothing. Everything we just listed we DO NOT provide to our school children.

This is why I’m proposing to make my school a prison. The State of Michigan spends annually somewhere between $30,000 and $40,000 per prisoner, yet we are struggling to provide schools with $7,000 per student. I guess we need to treat our students like they are prisoners, with equal funding. Please give my students three meals a day. Please give my children access to free health care. Please provide my school district Internet access and computers. Please put books in my library. Please give my students a weight room so we can be big and strong. We provide all of these things to prisoners because they have constitutional rights. What about the rights of youth, our future?!

Please provide for my students in my school district the same way we provide for a prisoner. It’s the least we can do to prepare our students for the future…by giving our schools the resources necessary to keep our students OUT of prison.

Respectfully submitted,

Nathan Bootz, Superintendent, Ithaca Public Schools