by Robert T. Elton
In understanding the role of education in one's life (and the responsibility to seek it) some of us educators have not found that the practicing of any religious faith decreases test scores or detrimentally affects cognitive development. In fact, those religiously inclined show a tendency to high-school equivalency—and post-secondary studies. This is an interesting fact, as it speaks to the psychological and emotional needs of these prisoners. The Regional Principal of ODOC mentioned to me around the first of the year that, "A significant religious experience is the greatest influence on reducing recidivism, then it's a college degree, and then a vocational education." He taught me a valuable lesson.
Religion is not antagonistic to education, but education is not free, God is, and thus, more accessible. It seems that as I watch men leave for service that they believe religion will help them more than will an education—or maybe they're just not in a hurry, some may be here awhile (and faith just may help them get to know themselves better, too...) and I desire to be here to help with their GED's when they break with God (that is, return from services).
Religion helps many of us. Arguably, one can make the case for harm or benefit. 4And that was the case to be made in this writing; to share the feelings and observations of an educator, to enlighten others to the priority questions above, and to empathize with those students who have to make that authentic choice among competing interests, due to scheduling conflicts: persevere. Maturity is an astounding trait of a habilitated mind. As such, the student possesses any final decisions as to whether any education vs. religious practice exists or not. We hope our students receive both. To the corrections educators, May the force be with you, Shalom, and Good Luck.
ROBERT ELTON, AAS (Bus), AA (PIgl. Ed.) BA(Sociology) Grad Student at Cal State, advocates Prisoner rights and is author of two novels:^ Fisherman's Ne and Normal People, and is Co-Editor of Communicating Behind Bars: A Sociological Guide. Profits from novels go to scholarships for inmates:
He is imprisoned in Hominy, Ok.
WADE DuROY, B.Ed, Oklahoma State U., Class of'85. Editor and Corrections teacher at DCCC.
1 A legal standard and also an example of best practices
2 Among other beliefs and religious observances
3 Richard Schamhorst, Regional Principal ODOC, and Wade
4 Think Inquisition or stoning. Greenwalt, Kent. Religion and the Constitution: Establishment and Fairness, V. II. Princeton U.P." NJ (2008).