A recent Michigan study shows that increased funding in schools decreases adult crimes.
“Michigan’s school funding equalization process led to otherwise similar students receiving drastically different funding amounts during elementary school,” said Education Policy Initiative.
“Some students with luck attended elementary school in a school district and year in which the state assigned large increases in spending in order to equalize funds across districts.”
The study focused on two groups of kindergarten students who were tracked into adulthood.
San Quentin resident M. Carter was asked what could have been different in his schools when he attended them. “There were too many people in each classroom,” he said. “You could never get help from the teachers. The books we had were worn out and missing pages. I could go on if you like.”
The Michigan schools that received additional funding were able to better equip classrooms and teachers with needed upgrades, according to the report.
The study demonstrated the following key differences in funded classes:
“Students who attended better-funded elementary schools were taught by teachers with greater experience and earning higher salaries, were in smaller class sizes, and attended schools with a larger number of administrators such as vice principals.
Students who attended better-funded schools were 15% less likely to be arrested through age 30.
A likely reason for the observed reduction in adult arrests is that students in better-funded schools had better academic and behavioral outcomes and higher educational attainment.
The reductions in adult crime alone generate social savings that exceed the costs to the government of increasing school funding.”
San Quentin resident E. Moss was also asked what could have been different in his schools when he attended.
“I would say increased opportunities, meaning opportunities to learn different things,” he replied. “Some schools don’t have the same resources as others, so kids aren’t exposed to different things. I never took home economics or woodshop or auto mechanics — basically, things that would help people understand different careers. Also, more money in schools can help kids with scholarships. There was no free college when I was in school.”
The study points out that early school funding in the lives of adolescents will reduce their involvement in the criminal justice system.
“While many policies focus on the crime-deterring effects of additional policing or tougher criminal justice sanctions, our findings highlight that early investments in children’s lives can prevent contact with the adult criminal justice system,” reported the study’s authors.
“Specifically, our results show that improving public schools can keep children on a path of increased school engagement and completion, thereby lowering their criminal propensity in adulthood.”