Friday, January 04, 2019

# 8: Education Lottery's Non-Support of Public Schools

Image result for sc education lottery

The purpose of South Carolina's Education Lottery is to take money from the poor and give it in the form of scholarships to the middle class.

Well, actually, that wasn't the stated purpose, but it is the result. Despite the promises that the lottery if approved would go towards public education, the money has been directed elsewhere. Making matters worse, the State Board of Education has adopted a ten-point grading system to make our athletes' grades appear comparable to those of nearby states. 

Another example of the tale wagging the dog. 

The unintended consequences are much worse than that. Now that move has bankrupted the Palmetto Fellows, LIFE and HOPE scholarships. That's what happens when everybody makes A's and B's.  

So far our own legislative delegation has ignored the reality that standards for those scholarships must be raised post haste! However, Rep. Neal Collins of Easley has a good proposal. As he cogently points out, the majority of freshmen lose their scholarships after the first year of college. Something major is going wrong, and it appears to be that the standards for scholarships are too low anyway.

Collins's proposal won't gain much traction because the middle class will bring pressure to bear, but it should see the light of day: eliminate the Hope and Life scholarships and redirect that money--approximately $250 million--to raising public school teachers' salaries. Palmetto Fellows scholarships, whose recipients have a much better track record, would continue untouched. 

If the state must encourage people to gamble, at least the proceeds should benefit K-12 education, the sector that needs it the most. Isn't that what we voted for?

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