It occurs far too often that, while driving through our once-glorious home of St. Louis, we see those unfortunate souls whose lives consist of days spent begging on the sidewalks and nights spent sleeping in the elements. On the T.V. as well, we turn on the news and hear of killings and other crimes done by that same type of person.

Many of these types of instances are the result of our extremely flawed educational system. A child’s schooling ought to prepare the student for the rest of their lives; why do we not utilize this mindset in St. Louis? I propose a solution which would solve this crisis of people not positively contributing to society to their fullest potential. My plan takes effect for children at a young age, where students from participating school districts’ elementary schools all will be required to take mental and physical aptitude tests. The mental tests will place great value on reading proficiency; this is because, according to a study done by The Annie E. Casey Foundation, “students who do not read well by third grade have four times higher risk of not earning a high school diploma compared to proficient readers.” Using the information gathered, it will be easy to determine which students will and which will not generate a positive contribution to St. Louis throughout their adulthood.

In my plan, qualified children will be sent to “Pre-Prison Institutions,” or PPI’s -- institutions which prepare young people for their lives as incarcerated individuals. Rather than allowing them to grow up and commit egregious crimes which land them in prison, this eliminates the pain and suffering that would otherwise be caused to the victims of their inevitable crimes. Elementary school students who qualify will spend half of each day at their normal school, and then be bussed -- at no extra charge to their parents/guardians -- to their districts’ corresponding PPI. During middle school, kids will attend PPI for full-days, and then in high school they will make the move to living there full-time. Upon turning eighteen, they are placed in real prisons; this gradual build up will allow them the necessary time to adjust to the lifestyle that will define them until their deaths. Additionally, if they have proven to be well-behaving inmates throughout their journey to adulthood, they will receive cell preference upon being admitted to their adult penitentiary. According to a study done by the Ferguson Commission, there is a 17% higher chance for a white student to graduate high school in Missouri versus a black student. Because of this, the participating school districts will be those with the highest percentage of African-American students (ranging from 40% to 90%), and includes Hazelwood, Ferguson-Florissant, Riverview Gardens, Jennings, Normandy, University City, and the St. Louis Public Schools. Thus, my proposal works in the kids’ best interests as well, as many of them wouldn’t graduate from traditional high school anyway.

One of the first, most obvious benefits stemming from my plan is that within forty years, because inmates won’t be able to have children while in prison, we will have eradicated the people who statistically cause the most crime in our communities. This will result in a much safer, communal city. Secondly, my proposal guarantees increased chance of employment for those actually deserving of and willing to do the work. According to a study by Jason Purnell, a SLUH graduate from the class of ‘95, the national total unemployment rate of blacks in America is 13%, while for whites it is only 7%. In St. Louis, that discrepancy is heightened to a 21% to 6% difference, respectively, in the City and County combined. With my plan, the less industrious of our community will be out of the picture, leading to greater employment rates for those of us more deserving of opportunity.

Remember those physical aptitude tests taken by elementary students? During the high school years, if one displays enough athletic prowess, they will be bussed daily to traditional athletic powerhouse schools such as CBC, Chaminade, and Webster Groves at 3:30 for sports practices. Because athletics are the only avenue for people from the participating districts to ever contribute to the common good, this program provides a special opportunity for them to do so. Three times a week, there will be 20-minute class periods dedicated to educating the athletes how to speak to the media in a humble way which represents our town well.

Some people might argue that my proposition is racist, particularly toward African Americans. Yet, this is for the common good of all races. In Ferguson, a place where this program takes effect, black residents account for 92% of cases where arrest warrants are issued (according to the Ferguson Commission). Through my initiatives, we will be looking out for the future of all races by eliminating the crimes which cause arrests such as these. The people who’ll end up in prison deserve a childhood, and the dreams and aspirations placed upon them during that childhood, to be attainable. Thus, my solution serves them well.

The problems of crime and homelessness really is a problem that has been affecting the good citizens of the St. Louis area for much too long. That being said, there really is no better idea for how to deal with this issue; that is, unless the city and counties opt to merge and create education tax funds which would be equally distributed to each school district. But that is much too far-fetched to ever actually occur. The proposal I have outlined here is a clear, concise, and efficient way to maximize what our city and county can become, and to allow each St. Louisian to achieve their fullest potential.