Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down: Jan. 31

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Kentucky performs badly in education study

Kentucky is among the five least educated states in the nation, according to a WalletHub study that came out last week.

Kentucky was ranked 47th out of 50 states for percentage of residents with associate’s degrees or college experience. The state was also 47th in percentage with a bachelor’s degree.

The study placed Kentucky 46th in education and 46th in annual median household income.

Education and economic success are closely correlated. No doubt there can be highly educated people with very little money and extremely uneducated people who wind up with a lot of cash. But in general, more education leads to better and higher-paying jobs.

Kentucky’s poor educational attainment can be tied very closely to poor economic success.

If we want our state to do better, we need to improve our educational system. Our schools and universities need more money, not less — less is what they’ve been getting for years.

It will take real investment now if we want to realize long-term improvement. We can’t just tweak the existing system or place our hope in “solutions” that claim to magically make things better without any extra cost.

It’s an expense now, but it’s one that pays off immensely in the future — well-educated people return many times more money in taxes and contributions to the economy than it costs to educate them in the first place.

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Boyle-Mercer post-jail drug program closer to reality

Speaking of investments in the future, Boyle and Mercer counties are only a month away from opening their post-jail drug addiction treatment program in the old Red Cross building in Danville.

With a final agreement approved last week, work begins for real tomorrow, as the contractor Shepherd’s House moves into the building and begins setting up shop.

This program costs money now — up to $25,000 per month for up to 60 outpatient clients — but is designed to pay off big time in the future.

One of the counties’ biggest expenses is operating the Boyle County Detention Center. The jail is regularly way over its planned capacity, and taxpayers pay for all of it — to the tune of $31.34 for each inmate every day.

The skyrocketing jail population is fueled in large part, if not exclusively, by drug addiction. Drug addicts go to jail for crimes they commit — either drug-related or crimes they commit in efforts to obtain drugs — and when they get out, they reoffend quickly as they return to their addictions.

The Shepherd’s House program, combined with a myriad of community services that will be offered alongside it, will aim to break this cycle and turn former inmates into happy, successful members of society.

If it’s successful, that $25,000 monthly investment (it’s less if fewer inmates participate) will start to look pretty cheap a year from now, as the jail population drops and the number of people working and paying taxes goes up.