The Cornell Prison Education Program received a $1 million grant from The Mellon Foundation on Thursday, which will allow the program to double its presence in central New York correctional facilities, according to Rob Scott, executive director of CPEP. “We offer more than 30 courses right now with over 100 students within prison walls,” Scott said. “With this grant, we’ll jump to over 60 classes a year and probably more than 200 students once it’s fully implemented.”
The program currently offers courses taught by Cornell faculty and graduate students at Auburn Correctional Facility and Cayuga Correctional Facility. So far, CPEP has held two commencement ceremonies — the first in 2012 and the most recent in 2014 — and conferred more than 15 associate degrees to inmates each time. The grant money will enable CPEP to expand its services to Five Points Correctional Facility and Elmira Correctional Facility.
In a sign of the times, there is uproar over President Obama’s decision to speak to schoolchildren and convey a message of studying hard and staying in school. Parents have appeared on the cable news stations crying out in anger at the idea that President Obama would dare speak to the nation’s children. First and foremost, Barack Obama is the President of the United States, a fact that eludes many U.S. children. He is the leader of the free world and is held to a higher standard and in higher regard than other politicians. Second, that the President wishes to dedicate time towards reaching out to schoolchildren is mutually beneficial and exposes students to the idea of nation and community.
Building on the University’s legacy of service and research in New York State, Governor David Paterson (D) officially announced the creation of the Center for Rural Schools last Friday. The center, coming at a time of increased stress on rural schools, will operate on campus.
“It’s a unique combination of both outreach and research,” said Prof. John W. Sipple, education, who will serve as director of the center. “The center will provide any number of opportunities for students and faculty.” Sipple, who has worked for 10 years with the Rural Schools Association of New York, was the principle investigator for the center.
Late last month, the U.S. Census Bureau released a report revealing that more than three times the number of black Americans live in prison as in college dorms.
The news is not shocking to black student leaders at Cornell, who along with the rest of the country have seen the number of black prisoners increase dramatically since the 1980s.
“The study seems like a complete oversimplification of the issue — in light of all the current cases of discrimination we have seen in our local community, this shouldn’t be a surprise,” said Kalisa Martin ’08, senior advisor of the prison activist coalition at Cornell.