I know that in Georgia, the HOPE scholarship (which started with the best of intentions) has actually led to the lowering of academic standards, since it looks good for a high school to get more kids into the HOPE program.
College needs to be more affordable as well, and between increased administrative costs, a reduction in state support, and various other causes, that’s a challenge.
So, thinking outside the box…
I propose that a state – perhaps a smaller one to start, or one that is flush with cash right now, like North Dakota right next door – offer *every* student one free year of higher education/training. No grade requirements, just graduate high school. This would be redeemable at any state institution of higher education or vocational training.
By removing the grade requirements, you presumably avoid grade inflation in the K-12 area (and possibly do something about the standardized testing junta as well). By making it applicable for both academic and technical education, you don’t shove people into programs for which they have no aptitude or desire just to get the numbers up. You also help create skilled laborers, which could be tied to an increase in local manufacturing.
Yes, this is just one year…so perhaps a public-private partnership could be created to provide scholarships for the next years of training/education. It would be made very clear to the students that colleges are not in the business of sympathy, so you’d have to maintain your college grades to be considered for the upperclass scholarships. We in higher education would have to be resolute in maintaining our academic standards.
Yes, the cost would be high – but it could be paid for by reworking the current scholarship programs. I am open to other funding mechanisms as well.
One problem is that a good hunk of the public really isn’t going to benefit. If a high school student puts off working for a year, that’s lost money, experience, and promotions. I’d love to see a better educated public but a good number of students would go a year, drop out, and not be worth their personal or the taxpayers’ investment. I hate to say it, but I’ve seen plenty of students who would have been happier pumping gas.
Well, it’s not mandatory – just available. Plus, we need to make it so a person can actually make a living on “minimum” wage.