Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Jody Richards: The Education Governor

Well, to give credit where it is due, at least Speaker Richards isn't calling himself the Economics Governor.

Richards "new and exciting plan" apparently consists only of increasing need-based aid to college students. This is exactly the wrong thing to do at exactly the wrong time. Until we dramatically increase graduation standards in Kentucky, we will continue to send unprepared students to college where too many of them are doomed to fail. Giving them more money to do it doesn't accomplish anything. In fact, piling more state aid on our colleges artificially inflates tuition rates for those students who remain after the weak ones wash out. That makes education harder to afford for people who aren't poor enough for the aid.

Seeking to offer universal access to higher education (or Galbraith's "further education") will always have a perverse effect on the demand curve, squeezing middle income students out. What we need is a combination of more merit-based aid to improve our state schools and higher standards to better prepare our children. Until we do one of these, we will keep failing our students. And until we do both we will continue flushing increasing amounts of money down the toilet.