HUMOR: Doing Math in Public is Not a Crime

I don’t think they can lock you up for doing math in public, so starting with that assumption, we might want to look at some interesting financial numbers, here in the state of Colorado.


We’re a generous bunch of folks, and we try to take care of those who need our help the most. We take care of children, for one example, by providing them a free education (whether they want one or not.) As a result of that generosity, about 889,000 of them were enrolled in our public schools this past school year.

And, in a similar spirit of generosity, we take care of prisoners — about 21,000 of them, at the most recent count, although the number has been know to fluctuate according to the phases of the moon.

This care taking effort is not cheap, by any means — not for the kids, and not for the prisoners. The 2015-2016 fiscal year budget for the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) weighed in at $5.395 billion. (That’s ‘billion,’ with a ‘b’.) The bill for the Colorado Department of Corrections will run about $869 million (‘million’ with an ‘m’) during the 2015-2016 year.

Now, I’m sure a lot of you are going to breathe a sigh of relief, knowing that Colorado is spending much more on the education of our kids than we are spending on our prison inmates. Kids are cute and full of hope, and well deserving of the $5.395 billion we will spend on them this coming year. Prison inmates, maybe not so cute.

But here’s where the “doing math in public” part comes into play. (Hopefully, not a crime.)

If Colorado has 21,000 inmates and the Department of Corrections budget is $869 million, then (counting on my fingers) we can calculate that it costs about $41,380 to keep one inmate in prison. On average. With allowances for the phase of the moon.

If Colorado has 889,000 kids on our public schools (preschool through 12th grade) and the CDE budget for the coming year is $5.395 billion, then it looks like we are spending about $6,069 — on average — to educate each kid.

So maybe things don’t seem so sunny and bright, when we consider that we are spending almost seven times as much taking care of one prisoner as we are spending educating one school kid.

To make matters worse, the crime rate in Colorado has been steadily improving over the past 10 years, while math scores in our public schools have been slowly getting worse and worse. Seems like we’ve got our priorities all mixed up, when you add up the numbers (or multiply them… or divide them.)

$41,380 per prisoner.

$6,069 per cute, hopeful child.

The solution to this unfair allocation of the state’s limited financial resources is immediately obvious, however.

We should put our kids in prison, and let the prisoners go to the public schools. Problem solved.