Friday, February 24, 2012

Editorial: Allow high-achieving students to learn already

The unnamed editor goes off on the bill in the Legislature that would require most college students to put up at least 2,000 clams in cash.I agree wit the sentiment, but I gotta point out that the editor has undermined his argument by misunderstanding some of the facts.
    The editor unnecessarily conflates two kinds of education grants -- those that are need-based, and others that are based on academic achievement. This can be confusing because the bill specifically exempts those students who get a full ride based on being super-smart, and here the bill includes the word "solely," which is significant.
    Instead this bill is aimed specifically at the need-based grant, where a student has the grades to qualify for acceptance, but not the money. It would even prevent a relative from putting up the cash as a loan or gift. (How the state would enforce that is an interesting question, but it's there in black and white.)
     The schools will still furnish the grants, at least until the Legislature reduces their funding further. So the only clear purpose of this bill is to make it harder for kids from less well off families to get into our state university system. There's no clearer way to say it.
    Yes, many disadvantaged kids have to work hard academically to make up the gaps and qualify for admission, but that's a different level of academic achievement than the editor implies in the piece.
    The bill is disgraceful and mean-spirited, an embarrassment to any thinking being in the state, including those Republicans who haven't gone over the edge, as I've confirmed in personal conversations. But the over-the-edge crowd is powerful in our Legislature this year. A phone call to Rep Fann, Rep Tobin or Sen Pierce couldn't hurt.