During my daily newspaper scan this morning I came across the following stories.

130 Alabama High Schools Score Poorly on Reading, Stumble on Bedrock of Education

Kelan Staffney reads a passage to his class from a nonfiction story cho­sen by his teacher. The two-paragraph excerpt is riddled with words such as “indigent,” “manifest,” “meditation” and “abyss” — words as elusive to grasp as a butterfly to Kelan until his teacher pronounces them for him.

Kelan, a ninth-grader at Montevallo High School, will turn 15 this month. He’s been to various schools and got­ten himself kicked out of some, and his attendance rate at Montevallo is less than stellar.

He used behavior problems to cover up a secret, he says. A secret so shameful he shouldn’t have made it to ninth grade, says his mother.

Kelan reads on a third-grade level.

A Birmingham News analysis of the 2008-09 Ala­bama High School Gradua­tion Exam shows that 130 public high schools either failed reading or were clas­sified as “borderline” fail­ing, based on 11th-graders’ performance on the Ala­bama High School Gradua­tion Exam.

So, our kids can’t read. And then I saw this one…

Tuscaloosa Deputies find 255 pounds of marijuana during traffic stop

Arek and his handler, Deputy Marcus Bell, were called to the Fosters area of I-20/59 northbound at about 10 p.m. after Sgt. Jeremy Franks and Deputy Daniel Morales stopped a white Dodge van for what the sheriff described as a “routine traffic violation.”

Once there, Arek alerted deputies to the back of the van. Inside, the authorities discovered 11 bundles of suspected marijuana in two large, black duffel bags, Sexton said.

Sexton said the destination of the driver was still under investigation. Daniel Liceaga, 27, of Prospect Heights, Ill., was taken into custody.

He faces one count of first-degree trafficking marijuana and remained in the Tuscaloosa County Jail on Tuesday on $1 million bail.

And that got me thinking again about how out of line our priorities are in Alabama. See, according to the Birmingham News in 2007 Alabama ranked 41st, spending $9,509 per pupil, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Yet, we spend over $13,000 a year to lock up a person for possessing, using, growing or selling a plant. We spend more money per person fighting this stupid, unwinnable drug war than we do to educate our children.

Guess what happens to children who don’t get a good education? They wind up in poverty and make up a large portion of the people who later become prisoners.

If we legalized and taxed marijuana in Alabama we could give each of those 130 schools who are failing reading a minimum of $1 million dollars. I know this because a few months ago I crunched the numbers to see what Alabama could rake in if we took that simple, no-brainer step. Here is the formula that I used. We’d also save an estimated $117 million if we stopped warehousing drug offenders in our dilapidated, dangerously overcrowded and inhumane prison system.

Why do we keep allowing our elected officials to so vigorously pursue failed drug war policies at the expense of our childrens’ future? At the expense of public safety? Our prisoner to guard ratio is 200:1. There could be a prison break at any time. It can and will only get worse if we continue down this destructive path.

It’s time for Alabama citizens who are tired of this nonsense to stand up and demand that the right thing be done. It doesn’t matter if you love drugs, hate drugs, or don’t care about drugs at all, you have to realize that what we are doing is NOT WORKING and WE have to CHANGE IT.

If you are interested in working with me during the upcoming legislative session to educate our elected officials about the real consequences of the failed war on drugs then please get in touch with me via email at [email protected]



  1. Anonymous on

    whats so funny about this article and the crime fighting deputies involved is that the sheriff has been made aware of several instances of criminal behavior of those pictured in the photo. i find it hilarious that the sheriff is touting his law breaking deputies in front of the media. he is a joke, just like the tuscaloosa county sheriffs office is a joke. fraud, abuse of position and the list goes on and on. sexton should be ashamed that he cant even keep his own deputies under control.

  2. GD on


  3. Jake on

    Thanks for the links. With me being from Alabama Im use to replies like, “Shut up you pot smoking zombie” and stuff of that nature. I already knew about NORML (great website) but MPP is new to me. I like it better NORML. Checked out the stuff on Alabama. Its nice to know there are other people in my state that feel the same way about marijuana. I plan on donating some money here soon. Again, thanks for the link.

  4. Dan-o on

    Hey Jake, if you want to help in the legalization cause this site is a good place to start. You may be interested in http://www.mpp.org/ and http://norml.org/ as well. Good luck and God bless.

  5. Jake on

    I live in Montgomery, Alabama and I can tell you from first hand experience that the school systems here are terrible. All the public middle and high schools here are currently placed on academic probation meaning they recieve no money from the government. No money for books. No money for desks. And no money for extracurricular activities. Yet the government wants to wonder why the school systems here suck. They wonder why attendace is down. Mayor Todd Strange is a prick. I look at Georgia and their lottery and see how the schools benefit from the money. Bob Riley doesnt want a lottery?!!! But he wants to complain about the schools?!!! Montgomery invested alot of money into the new Biscuits Stadium. Don’t you think some of that money should of went to the crumbling schools. No, that would be the logical thing to do. Legalization would be a step foward. Im all for it. Im only 18 but I would like to help out as much as I can

  6. David Dureault on

    With a level playing the “Better Living Through Chemistry” moto would have had to be changed to reflect what the facts. Chemistry is not the better way to Living.
    The undeniable facts, that every ecosystem of this planet, that was clean except for natural industrial pollutants ( coal, arsniec, etc), before the introduction of synthification of every product that was produced useing hemp, or natural method was found to be the scourge of the earth.
    All of these places, everything, and everyone on this planet has been tainted by this fact and all governments with these industries have have conspired to engage in nothing less then treason in this regard.

  7. Anonymous on

    umm yeah…everybody voting on everything sounds great untill you realize 2 important things. 1. As a group we are fucking stupid. If you don’t agree with that statement, please look at the national average grade in every/any subject. 2. There is simply not enough time in the day to vote on every issue people cobble together.

    on a completely unrelated topic…Loretta Nall sure is a lil hottie isn’t she?

  8. Anonymous on

    Maybe the answer is above all the fights we all are involved in, a answer that all walks of life may pause to think on.
    Pure Democracy or better known as Direct Democracy.

    Where the Power is given to the people to make the votes for laws, not an infinitesimal amount of People to choose our Destinies.

    We have the Technological ability to make it a reality where we as a nation of whatever Country , chooses it’s own Laws.
    By Phone, Internet, Kiosk.. we can make this real.

    All the Corporations that so love the power they have over us because of Commerce.
    People Do Not Starve in the world for Lack of Food.
    They Starve becasue Lack of Commerce, they cannot afford to eat even though Countries buy their lands just to make sure People of Money Nations can have Bananas all year round.

    It has to stop, we are mature enough to choose for ourselves and with access to this Great Library we can find ourselves knowing, as much or more then the Teachers, Professors, Police, Lawyers, Judges, Doctors and Researchers.

    We can be taught and understand and choose for ourselves without Hand Holding.

    It’s Time to choose our own FATE!

    Just a thought!

  9. Worm on

    225 lbs and in only two bags. 1 million dollar bail, a little excessive i think. Routine traffic violation, yah.