It's almost time for another year to begin at colleges and universities throughout the country. Most students and parents have spent a lot of time visiting campuses, investigating the colleges that interest their family, narrowing down the alternatives, and finally arriving at that one special college. The class of 2017 is almost packed and ready to head off for their new adventure.
As parents we have faith that college leaders have carefully selected the faculty members who will influence our kids. As students we hope for the same. We are eager to begin the learning process by partnering with knowledgeable, respected faculty members.
Maybe not all of us are that lucky. Recently, Fox News uncovered some startling information in an article titled "Columbia's Cons: Ivy League Social Work Program Run By Team of Former Prisoners."
For about $43,000 annually you can have your children taught by convicted felons. The best part? You probably won't even know it until your kids are sitting in their classroom. The ex-cons work for a program called the Criminal Justice Initiative (CJI), a subset of Columbia University. CJI was co-founded by Kathy Boudin a reported former Weather Underground member. Fox reported that Boudin plead guilty to felony murder for a 1981 armed robbery that left two police officers and a security guard dead. Yet, if you look at her bio on the CJI web page there is no mention of any of any time she spent in prison.
Wilkins, listed as the co-director of CJI, is an adjunct faculty member at Columbia with the title of "research scientist." It is reported that she was convicted for a 1996 gunpoint hijacking of an armored car. Wilkins served a 12-year sentence.
Mika'il DeVeaux was a keynote speaker for the CJI's "Removing the Bars" Conference in 2012. There was no mention in his bio of the 24 years he served in jail for second-degree murder.
It is ridiculous that we would allow people who can't pass a basic criminal background check to sit in classrooms and influence students without any of us having the opportunity to know their criminal backgrounds. It is sickening that any university administrators would knowingly allow this situation to develop and thrive. As university leaders we owe our students and parents an education worth their time and investment. Choose your college or university wisely... your choice matters.
Again, I find myself hoping that folks start to grasp some Biblical wisdom such as these words found in the book of Proverbs, "Follow the steps of good men instead and stay on the paths of the righteous".
I sure couldn't say it any better. Give me righteous men and women as faculty in the classroom and we can dramatically influence our world. Is there redemption and forgiveness through Christ for those convicted of crimes? Certainly. But until that happens, let our students follow the righteous, not the ex-cons.
Follow Dr. Robert M. Myers on Twitter: www.twitter.com/robertmmyers