“We must not believe the many, who say that only free people ought to be educated, but we should rather believe the philosophers who say that only the educated are free.” — Epictetus
The national directory is designed to serve the needs of the people who build, run, fund, and use accredited prison education programs. All too often, practitioners work in isolation. On the one hand this means that, in the absence of a national clearinghouse for program information, directors of accredited prison education programs must serve as the de facto networking database—spending valuable time fielding calls requesting information while juggling the tasks of coordinating their individual programs, training teachers and volunteers, and fundraising. On the other hand, isolation means that practitioners have had limited capacity to network with other directors, decreasing their capacity to learn from one another’s successes and failures. The national directory will both reduce the labor associated with responding to inquiries and increase opportunities for synergies capable of yielding greater access to education in prison.
The directory also supports people who want to participate in postsecondary prison education, such as teachers, volunteer tutors, funders, people who are incarcerated and their families. Until now, information about these programs has been fragmented, which has impeded efforts to educate the public. The national directory would put key data within reach of anyone with access to the Internet, providing a one-stop public-education service.
Furthermore, a national directory will help leverage resources to expand and institutionalize existing educational programs behind bars—and support fledgling projects and those that have yet to come into being. New programs commonly develop because an individual participates in or is exposed to a more established program. The effect of networking cannot be underestimated.