Governor Tom Vilsack is putting education reform at the top of his “to-do” list for Legislators, and he’s citing some alarming prison stats to press his case. Over the past few months, Vilsack has delivered a standard speech at many of his appearances, outlining a series of stats he presented as evidence for the need for change in Iowa’s educaton system. Vilsack says a recent study predicted where a class of 100 Iowa high school ninth-graders will go. It projects 83 will finish high school, which means 17 will become high-school drop-outs. “What happens to those 17?” Vilsack asks. “Well, if you want to come with me to Fort Madison or Anamosa or Mitchellville or Rockwell City or Clarinda or Mount Pleasant or anywhere where there is a prison or a community corrections facility, I’ll introduce you to the folks who didn’t do so well in Iowa school.” Officials in the Iowa Department of Corrections say 76 percent of the folks sent to an Iowa prison are high school drop-outs. The state spends thousands to help prisoners get a G-E-D and that has helped 44 percent of Iowa prisoners get a G-E-D. Yet about a quarter to one-third of prisoners still do not have a G-E-D or high school diploma. And about 18 percent of the prisoners who were paroled during the last state fiscal year were released before they’d completed their G-E-D classes in prison.
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