Wyoming Law Enforcement Leaders Say School Reform Bill Can Help Fight Crime
Police chief backs early childhood education, dropout prevention programs
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 25, 2010
Contact: Ted Eismeier, firstname.lastname@example.org
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WASHINGTON, D.C. (May 25, 2010) — Greybull Chief Bill Brenner traveled to Washington, D.C. to meet with Senator Mike Enzi to discuss opportunities to reduce crime through the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Albany County Sheriff James F. Pond and Sweetwater County Attorney Brett Johnson participated in the meeting by phone. Senator Enzi will be a key legislator in the reauthorization of that bill as the ranking member on the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee-the panel responsible for writing the reform legislation in the Senate.
The law enforcement leaders recognized Senator Enzi’s longtime work on education issues in the Senate and asked him to consider reforms that will help cut crime in Wyoming communities by helping kids succeed academically and stay out of trouble. They specifically recommended moving to a pre-k through grade 12 approach, keeping school-age kids on track to graduation, and reducing bullying, school violence and drug abuse, which would all have a positive effect on preventing later crime.
“Compared to a lifetime behind bars, the cost of a child’s education is a bargain. We know that Senator Enzi is a leader when it comes to education, and we hope he will help us implement these approaches that can help kids finish school and make our communities safer,” Chief Brenner said.
Research shows a clear connection between educational success and decreased involvement in crime. Research compiled by the anti-crime group Fight Crime: Invest in Kids also shows that a one-year increase of staying in school reduces murder and assault by almost 30 percent, motor vehicle theft by 20 percent, arson by 13 percent and burglary and larceny by about 6 percent. A study funded by the Gates Foundation found that high school dropouts are eight times more likely to be incarcerated than graduates.
The law enforcement leaders asked that the reauthorization of the federal education bill provide new incentives for states to increase access to high-quality pre-kindergarten. Providing at-risk children with high-quality pre-k can significantly reduce later involvement in crime and improve graduation rates.
“We need to make sure that kids are on track to earning a high school diploma instead of a rap sheet,” County Attorney Johnson said. “The best way to do that is by getting them involved in early education, making sure they don’t drop out of school, and helping make sure they stay out of trouble.”
A study of the Perry Preschool in Ypsilanti, Mich. found that at-risk kids left out of the high-quality program were 5 times more likely to be chronic offenders by age 27 than their peers left out of the program. The kids who attended were also 44 percent more likely to graduate from high school than those left out.
They also urged that the Elementary and Secondary Education Act ensure graduation rates are calculated consistently and accurately, and hold schools accountable for improving graduation rates. Additionally, they asked that the reform measure include evidence-based programs that cut down on drop-outs, bullying, school violence and drug abuse.
County Attorney Johnson, Chief Brenner and Sheriff Pond are members of Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, a national anti-crime organization of police chiefs, sheriffs, prosecutors and violence survivors with over 28 members in Wyoming and more than 5,000 members nationwide.