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Wendell Griffen, CEO Griffen Strategic Consulting, PLLC 1 RECLAIMING CHILDREN AND YOUTH IN ARKANSAS: What Parents, Faith-Based,

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Presentation on theme: "Wendell Griffen, CEO Griffen Strategic Consulting, PLLC 1 RECLAIMING CHILDREN AND YOUTH IN ARKANSAS: What Parents, Faith-Based,"— Presentation transcript:

1 Wendell Griffen, CEO Griffen Strategic Consulting, PLLC 1 RECLAIMING CHILDREN AND YOUTH IN ARKANSAS: What Parents, Faith-Based, and Community Leaders Can Do

2 I am not here to talk about … 2 The statistics we already know. The challenges we already know. The challenges facing our schools, social service agencies in government, and the economy. How much we think of ourselves as parents, faith leaders, and community leaders. This is not a feel good talk.

3 I am here to issue a challenge! 3 You will either accept the challenge or turn from it. You will either decide to do specific things or keep doing whatever you are doing—or not doing. You will not be able to claim that you don’t know what you can do. You must decide whether to do what you know. A decision to decide later means you are deciding to not decide today to do anything.

4 I am here to prod you, not massage you. 4 Our children are being mis-educated so they can be incarcerated. Religious and community leaders and parents can do something about it. We haven’t done enough thus far. Perhaps we don’t know what to do. If we know what to do, perhaps we lack the character to do what must be done.

5 First challenge: Read this Book! 5 Crisis in the Village: Restoring Hope in African American Communities, by Robert M. Franklin, President of Morehouse College in Atlanta. $10.88 from This book should be required reading for every parent, faith community, social activist, educator, and community leader in the U.S. Franklin is candid about what’s wrong and right about families, churches, and black colleges. Public schools and other colleges should have been included.

6 Next reading assignment 6 My Moral Odyssey, Samuel DeWitt Proctor, (Judson Press, 1989). $10.00 at (new); a used copy can go for as low as ($4.00). Read it. Have your congregation, lodge, fraternity, sorority, club, family, etc. read it! Then have your young adults, pre-marriage couples, and new parents read it!

7 Challenge #2: Stop drinking the Kool- Aid 7 Building more jails and hiring more police and prison guards will not make our communities more functional or safe. We keep increasing governmental funding for police, jails, jailers, prisons, and prison guards. We are not increasing funding for schools, teachers, counselors, parks, youth programs, job programs, at anywhere close to a comparable rate. Stop believing the lies. We don’t have a pro- education society; we have a pro-incareration society.

8 The facts 8 The U.S. has less than five percent of the world population. It has almost 25 percent of the world’s prisoners. The U.S. leads the world in producing prisoners. Most faith based leaders are doing little, if anything, to challenge the wrong-headed notion that building more jails and creating more crimes for non-violent drug offenses has made any community safer, more prosperous, and better to live in. We just keep drinking the Kool-Aid.

9 What if I told you I could cure cancer and AIDS? 9 Would you listen to me? Would you be interested?

10 What if my proposed cures for cancer and AIDS involved … 10 Hiring more funeral directors and morticians. Building more cemeteries and crematories. Hiring more grave diggers. Paying them more. Giving them greater allocations in government spending. Electing more officials who promise to build more cemeteries, crematories, and hire more funeral directors, morticians, and grave diggers.

11 Well, just so you will know 11 “Prison agencies’ budget to grow. Lowered collections won’t pinch bureaus.” Arkansas Democrat-Gazette article, April 27, 2009, page 1B, Little Rock edition, by Andy Davis. Arkansas Department of Correction “is set to get as much as $305.9 million in general revenue for fiscal year that begins in July, up more than 11 percent from this year, under the state general revenue budget the Legislature approved earlier this month.”

12 More Kool-Aid News 12 “Meanwhile, the Department of Community Correction, responsible for supervising the state’s more than 53,000 probationers and parolees, will get up to $74.1 million, an increase of 18 percent.” “The money for the two agencies (ADC and DCC) will go toward opening an addition to a prison in Malvern, hiring more probation and parole officers, and covering increased medical costs for inmates at state prisons and minimum security lockups.”

13 Compare corrections spending with education spending in 2009 legislature 13 Spending for education increased only 3 percent in the 2009 legislative appropriation enacted by the Arkansas General Assembly. Why is it that the state appropriation for education increased so little, when spending for incarceration increased so much? What does the spending increase differential say about where Arkansas places its priority (education or incarceration)?

14 Politicians make incarceration Kool-Aid 14 When was the last time you saw an elected official publicly question, let alone challenge, our wrong-headed support of greater increases for incarceration than education? Who has demanded that we build more schools than prisons, and hire more teachers than police and correctional officers? What elected officials in Arkansas have done so? Who were they? When did they do it? How many black elected officials did so?

15 What have you done …? 15 Have you met with elected officials about the mis-guided direction of our spending? Have you recruited candidates for office and elected officials who will redirect our emphasis to education from incarceration? Have you organized and worked to oppose and defeat elected officials who support increased spending for incarceration more than increasing spending for education?

16 Are you helping sell the Kool-Aid? 16 Are you a member of a church, mosque, synagogue, fraternity, sorority, lodge, or other uplift community? Does your group have a building for its meetings? Is the building open and staffed after school during the week for homework centers, tutorial sessions, enrichment programs (art, music, drama, scouting groups, etc.)? Why not? Do your members volunteer and recruit other volunteers to serve in these areas? Do you teach that this is a moral imperative for your group?

17 Are you a church, mosque, synagogue, or other religious community leader? 17 When did you preach or teach about the wickedness of putting more emphasis on incarceration than education? When did you urge your congregants to volunteer in public schools? When did you demand individual meetings with parents of school-aged children in your congregation about the education of their children? Do you challenge the adults of your congregation to be thinkers? If not, how can you expect the youth to believe your challenges to them?

18 What are you preparing for Summer 2009? 18 Does your congregation have a summer learning program planned for 2009? Who will lead it? How many volunteers does it have? What age groups are targeted? What subject areas will be addressed? What evaluation methods will be used to select enrollees and assess program effectiveness?

19 Has your group identified students and families that it will nurture for success? 19 Has your mission, laymen, choir, usher, or other group done so? Why not? What families have children who need tutoring? What parents need help checking homework? What parents need help attending parent-teacher conferences? What families need help preparing for college and other post-high school education?

20 So many inmates to help 20 Do your members know any incarcerated persons? Do your members, Sunday School classes, mission and brotherhood groups, and other auxiliaries write them? Are your groups helping these persons obtain their high school equivalency certificates? Are they helping them with interviewing skills? Are they helping them prepare to re-enter the free world? Are they helping their children cope emotionally, academically, and socially?

21 “I want to take you higher!” Sylvester Stewart aka “Sly Stone” 21 As of March 2008, the official direct U.S. outlay for the war in Iraq was $845 billion for the five year period since March 2003, according to Reuters (not counting veterans health benefits and replacement costs for equipment). Nobel winning economist Joseph Stiglitz and co-author Linda Bilmes argue that the true cost then was at least $3 trillion (more than three times the official tally) in their book “The Three Trillion Dollar War” (W.W. Norton, 2008). We spent more money in Iraq than we did educating American children! Religious and community leaders still aren’t talking about this perverted misdirection of resources.

22 Yes he did say it! 22 “A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.” Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., A Time To Break Silence, Riverside Church, New York City, April 4, 1967. Dr. King was murdered exactly one year later in Memphis.

23 What is are faith and community leaders doing about this disgrace? 23 Why don’t faith and community leaders challenge the Governor and legislators about the education/incarceration mismatch? Why won’t faith leaders address this issue in sermons? Why won’t leaders urge Sunday School and mission groups, lodges and Greek letter organizations to discuss this issue? Either our leaders don’t know what is happening, they know and approve, or they don’t care— whether they know or not!

24 Is your congregation helping families prepare to pay for college? 24 Does your congregation offer financial planning and budgeting counseling for individuals and families? Does your congregation counsel new parents about opening college savings accounts when children are born? Does the congregation open such accounts? How much does the congregation budget each year toward assisting college-bound students?

25 If you shoot at nothing … 25 …why be surprised when you hit it?

26 There is some good news! 26 We can change. We can start doing things in new ways. We can define education as God’s business for people of faith. We can challenge our incarceration addiction. And we can expose and condemn the prison-industrial complex and those who keep strengthening it.

27 How to change 27 Ask for help from people who aren’t afraid of making waves. Don’t be afraid of confronting people. Parents who aren’t taking education seriously. Children who are misbehaving and their parents and families. Teachers and principals who quickly label children as maladjusted, learning disabled, or unsuitable for regular classroom instruction. Leaders who are unwilling to change how we address the education-incarceration issue.

28 This is a war of values 28 Do you have the will to fight for our children? Do you will the will to fight for the future of our families? Do you have the will to fight for the future of our people? And are you willing to hold yourselves, black parents, black youth, and leaders in the wider community accountable?

29 Wars always have casualties 29 What are you willing to lose to save our children from the cradle to prison pipeline? Who are you prepared to turn out of office? Who are you prepared to put in office? What are you willing to do?

30 Time will tell … 30 Thanks for listening. Wendell L. Griffen, CEO Griffen Strategic Consulting, PLLC 323 Center Street, Suite 1312 Little Rock, AR 72201 (501) 374-5949; (501) 374-5993 (fax) (501) 416-1917 (mobile)

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