States Can’t Get it Right on Education Funding

May 8, 2009 by  
Filed under Blog

Most of the states that have started lotteries have done so on the premise that it will benefit higher education.

What a crock that is.

Our state started its lottery in December 2003. Immediately, all of the poorest people in our state started thinking of the lottery as their personal financial plan. It is sad that the people who can least afford it are the folks that purchase the most lottery tickets.

So millions started rolling in to fund lottery scholarships. To earn a lottery college scholarship in our state, a student needed only a 3.0 GPA or an SAT score of 890 or an ACT score of 19. Almost any moron can squeeze out a 3.0 GPA in a public high school but that doesn’t mean they should be going to college.

So what has happened? First, only 54% of lottery scholarship recipients did well enough in college to retain their scholarship. That tells you right there that we are sending the wrong people to college. It also flooded our public universities with new first year scholarship students. Predictably, the universities lacked the infrastructure to support all of these new freshmen. This lowered the quality of the college experience for everyone, including those that really belonged there.

So what did our genius legislators do? Well, they decided that not enough unprepared and unmotivated students were going to college so they lowered the standards for earning a lottery scholarship. 

You can guess what happened next. Even more slackers and dummies went to college on a lottery scholarship but there wasn’t enough actual lottery income to cover the increased cost. Now our state government has to reach into the general reserve fund and give $10 million to the lottery corporation to make up the deficit.

This is what happens when government gets too deeply involved in the education business. Money is wasted by the wrong people (poor lottery players), on the wrong people (lousy students), and for the wrong reasons (send people to college who don’t belong). In the end, we all pay the price.

OK – rant over.

If you have time, pay a visit to the Carnival of Personal Finance and Carnival of Pecuniary Delights where my writing appeared this week.

Have a great weekend.

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