“Hope” is NOT a plan…
As the good folks of Georgia are finding out.
Let me start off by making a couple of things clear, or at least trying to.
- Every dollar spent by the federal government on “education” in any form is a dollar wasted. The return on investment is ZERO. That includes money for “studies”; money spent on (not invested in) bricks and mortar at the federal, state or local level; money targeted to “improve” specific schools; federal block grants to the states; every crying dime of money spent propping up student loans and every nickle of Pell Grants.
- Most of the money poured into state colleges and universities is perfectly good cash that could be used for something that is useful.
OK, so now you should know where I’m coming from on the subject of education in general. If you’re not clear, reread the above points until you are. If you’re still having a problem understanding, Google “higher education bubble” by clicking the link and read at least five of the articles. That brings us to the subject for today, the State of Georgia. The Legislature passed and some Governor or another signed a bill a while back – 1993 to be exact – creating the Georgia Hope Scholarship Program. The point of this program, according to the politicians who wrote it and passed it, was to help good high school students in Georgia attend college and to attend “for free”. [Insert screed here re: ain’t no fricking free lunch!] The bottom line with the program is that if you graduate from high school with a “B” average you get as much as $6,000 per year toward your college costs. According to the article in the New York Times…
A majority of freshmen in Georgia have grades good enough to qualify for Hope, which covers tuition, some books and fees — but not housing costs — at any Georgia university or technical school.
My first instinct with that line is “Huh?” [scratch, scratch, scratch] “A MAJORITY?” Now since I’m old and have managed to acquire a reasonable – cynical, but reasonable – understanding of human nature, let me point something out that you may also have already figured out.
- Politicians promise parents “free” school for their kids.
- Politicians “pay” for the program with proceeds from state sanctioned gambling (lottery), typically played by those who can least afford it.
- Parents then exert tremendous pressure to achieve specified grades to qualify for “$$$Free Money$$$” (thank you JD Hayworth) on their kids. Oops, make that their kids TEACHERS. Teachers, reacting to a point of pain that they perceive can be easily remedied, practice “Grade Inflation” (note, link requires strong stomach or alcohol).
- More kiddos that the politicians “thought” (any references to “politicians” and “thinking” at 908 Straight St! are very strained and generally used for comedic effect) magically qualify for the program.
- Costs of the program spiral upwards. Is there any other direction?
- A “crisis” eventually ensues.
- The New York Times and whatever the local paper of the same ilk get hysterical. Cut to appropriate response for such hysterical behavior.
So, is this program a waste of money? Yeah, it is. Some anecdotal evidence from the same NYT article…
ATHENS, Ga. — Students here at the University of Georgia have a name for some of the fancy cars parked in the lots around campus. They call them Hopemobiles. But there may soon be fewer of them.
The cars are gifts from parents who find themselves with extra cash because their children decided to take advantage of a cherished state perk — the Hope scholarship.
And even though as many as two-thirds of Hope students let their college grades slip so much that they no longer qualify — “I’ve lost Hope,” they joke when it happens — Georgia still gives away more financial aid per student than any other state.
If The Times would like to do some research, they might also check to see how many Hope recipients are also taking out Federally Subsidized Title IV Student Loans, and just where that money is going.
“Free Money” from the government, doled out in large parcels, may buy some votes for a time. Oh heck, it WILL buy votes for a time, but that time may well be coming to an end. In addition, the idea that everybody “needs” a college education or that a college education will provide certain benefits may also be coming to an end. We, as a nation, need to step back and take a deep breath and understand that we’ve been sold a bill of goods by the education establishment and in the process of thinking that college for all is either good or worthy, the establishment has dumbed-down the process so that those who aren’t prepared for or simply aren’t able to do “the work” of real academics won’t get their feelings hurt. The result is a second rate education, on it”s way to becoming a third rate education, is available to all at a staggering cost. And that cost is not just the student loan balances that people leave school with, nor is it the tremendously high cost of state and federal subsidies for educational institutions that graduate students who can’t communicate in standard English, can’t write in a form that’s doesn’t look like a text message and who have “degrees” that don’t qualify them to do much more than find out if a customer wants fries with his lunch. The cost of college-for-all is the proliferation of degree programs that have the words “studies” or “science” in them that prepare their graduates for nothing more challenging than going to grad school to get an “advanced degree” in the same crap which will qualify said “student” to do nothing more challenging than teach college level courses to other simple minded fools.
It’s time to take a hard look at our colleges and universities and, as with most things, get back to basics. Degree programs should offer the student the opportunity to be exposed to real knowledge not pap or pop culture. The emphasis of universities should be to graduate students who have mastered difficult academic material, not to hand out worthless diplomas so students and parents will feel good about a supposed “accomplishment” that will show itself to be near worthless in a very short time.
- Hopemobiles (lukeford.net)
- Students prep to challenge HOPE changes (ajc.com)
- HOPE won’t end, but it will change (ajc.com)
- Bad News: Defaulted Student Loans Don’t Cost the Government (dailyfinance.com)
- Will College Become Unaffordable? (distance-education.org)