Missing The Point?

editorial-logo3I am now, and have always been, a proponent of education. Coming from a family of educators, I understand the importance of a quality education and believe strongly that our state and local government should support and uplift the pursuit of knowledge and training. That being said, Governor Haslam’s Tennessee Promise misses the mark. The problem with education does not lie with a graduate’s ability to afford community college, it lies with a graduate’s ability to succeed in the pursuit of higher education. There are currently several avenues to pay for community college, not the least of which being lottery scholarships. In addition to scholarships, there are grants that will provide assistance with tuition. Certainly, there are criteria for receiving scholarships, and there should be. Let’s be brutally honest. The threshold for the Hope Scholarship is a weighted 3.0 grade point average or a 21 on the ACT. If a student is serious about going to college, these are not difficult standards to meet. Suppose that a student is economically disadvantaged and didn’t meet the Hope Scholarship standards. There are federal and state grants that are need based and will cover the cost of tuition and, in many cases, books. The Governor wants to offer two years of community college to all graduates, at no cost. He plans to fund this by lessening the amount of scholarship funds that are available to four year colleges and universities for the first two years of attendance. What Governor Haslam needs to be reminded of is that there are actually students that study and plan for their educational future and their scholarship funds should not be raped to send the unmotivated masses to two years of school on the government’s dime.

Sending a student to college for free is no guarantee of an educated citizenship. College is tough and it requires commitment and dedication. If you want to build an educated society that values education then our political leaders must value education and educators. The cattle herding approach to higher education just proves how little those that make decisions actually know about education. It is not the cost of college that is keeping Tennessee students away. It is the lack of importance that is put on education and, sometimes, yes, that is economically driven. And sometimes it is not. This is a silly, thoughtless attempt to do a quick fix to a complex problem in our society. The only thing that the Tennessee Promise will do is negatively impact those students that seriously desire higher education at a four year college or university. Oh, they will find a way to achieve their goal. Those that are truly committed to the pursuit of higher learning always do. Which is the point that the Governor seems to be missing.

Source: K. Depew, News Director