Lawmaker wants to mandate prison tours for students
Jefferson City, MO – A Missouri lawmaker from the St. Louis area wants to require public schools to take their students on a field trip to a state prison during their freshmen year of high school.
Democrat Tim Green says the point of the tour would be to show students that "crime doesn't pay." His legislation also would mandate that not not scheduling the prison tour could be grounds for a superintendent, principal or teacher to be fired.
The mandatory prison tours would kick in with the 2009-2010 school year, if it becomes law. For now, it's in a committee in Jefferson City.
The Missouri School Boards' Association says it opposes the mandate, saying required visits would cut into "precious instructional time."
"It would be an eye-opening experience, but we can't afford to make it mandatory and give up that instructional time," said Brent Ghan, a spokesman for the Missouri School Boards' Association.
Some school officials also are raising concerns about the potential cost of the prison field trips. Green said that's the most common concern he has heard about the proposal.
"Schools are already under a tight crunch for money as it is to provide education," Green acknowledged. "Added costs will probably be the biggest deterrent in passage of the bill."
The Missouri Department of Corrections has not determined the bill's impact on the state's 20 correctional centers, spokesman Brian Hauswirth said.