Editorial – Prison University Project

Editorial Board

This week, our community had the privilege of hosting Jody Lewen ‘82, founder of the Prison University Project. The organization’s goal is to provide an education to incarcerated people in San Quentin Prison and set a standard for educational equality and criminal justice in California and around the world. The editorial board was inspired by Lewen’s mission to reflect on the necessity of equality in education access, and acknowledge just how lucky we are as Horace Mann students.

We are very fortunate to have access to the kind of education we receive at Horace Mann—many people simply do not have the opportunities. Lewen and others have seen the potential in incarcerated men and women, and understand the necessity of providing everyone with an equal opportunity at receiving an education. We’re reminded that just because someone doesn’t have access to something doesn’t mean they do not deserve it. During one of her talks, Lewen asked a thought-provoking question: since when did we begin to accept that education is a scarce commodity? An education is a basic human right, we believe, and thus should be universal—no one should be deprived of that.

At Horace Mann, our taxing school days, long lists of extracurriculars, and sleepless nights may sometimes allow us to lose sight of why we push ourselves so hard. When we often find ourselves complaining and competing about the amount of work we have, we’re neglecting the privileges we’re afforded at HM.  Ultimately, however, we complain because we value our education. We may not always realize it, but what we’re taught in school shapes our morals, beliefs, and ideas for the rest of our lives; without an education, we are lost.

It’s worth noting that Lewen was once in our shoes, and she was able to use her privilege for the good of the greater community; we too have this ability– to use our privilege to impact the world for the better. As members of the community, let’s remind ourselves to reflect on what we have as much as we can, and join the movement for educational equality and access for all.