Saturday, May 05, 2007

Jody Richards Misses Mark On Education Policy

The most basic economic theory states that lowering the price of a good increases demand for it. Education is a good and all consumers of education want to lower the price of it.


So why in the world do we continue to fall for foolish schemes like Jody Richards' College Opportunity Grants?

Establishing “College Opportunity Grants,” which would double the amount of need-based assistance given to students in the neediest 25th percentile of applicants.

Why don't we just call this "Soak The Middle Class" and quit pretending that putting our focus on expanding access to higher education by throwing more money at people based solely on their low incomes helps "education"?

I know. I am being insensitive and politically incorrect and Republican. But will someone explain to me how increasing demand -- and therefore the price -- of higher education by further subsidizing students who happen to have low incomes really benefits the state? It would be much more honest and correct to say that our goal is to create higher education opportunities for low income students by limiting them for those of mid-range means.

I fail to see how such class warfare benefits education. Seriously, Richards' "Grants" might legitimately claim to give at least a freshman year to some students of very limited means, but those same students have access to ample federal funds already.

If what we want is to improve schools, we should shift our focus to aiding more students who demonstrate a willingness to do the work necessary to complete a college degree. Let's incentivize achievement and not low incomes. It would be far better to tell kids in middle school that the only way they can live better than their parents is to work hard and we will help them get a college education. Instead, we tell them that mediocre effort and broke parents are all they need to get into college. Then we wring our hands because our students aren't prepared to do college work. Their failure succeeds only in raising prices for those who are more prepared, but less indigent. The biggest winner in this system is the politicians writing press releases about how much they care for the poor.