Cornell Prison Education Program
Going to prison for teaching algebra
Why teach Cornell undergrads when you can teach maximum security prison inmates? When I was in grad school at Cornell, I signed up as a teaching assistant with the Cornell Prison Education Program (CPEP) and was assigned to a pre-college math class. Every Thursday I drove an hour to Auburn, walked through nine gates and across two prison yards, into the school building, and taught 20 or so students as much math as you need to get through a liberal arts degree. Two hours later they let me out each time.
Prison Education (Wikipedia article) is a surprisingly controversial topic, at least here in the USA. One result of this public sentiment is that prison inmates are the only group who is not eligible for any financial assistance towards education. That's why the task of offering education paths to them falls to volunteers like those in CPEP.
This local news article covers the first graduation ceremony in Auburn in which one of my math students graduated! While we're on the topic, check out the video of the graduation including a talk by Warren Buffett's sister.
- Cornell Prison Education Program
- “Prison Education” on Wikipedia
- “Auburn Correctional Facility” on Wikipedia
- Very detailed article on Syracuse.com about CPEP's first graduation, with reader comments reflecting society's sentiments about educating the incarcerated
- Cornell News article about the first graduation in Auburn
- Information on how to get involved with CPEP