Monday, August 31, 2015

Restore the Wisconsin Covenant

Students who excel deserve educational opportunities, no matter what their family's income levels are

There once was a state that believed in some pretty important things, among them that education was paramount to producing thriving economies and communities.

It utilized the university system as a place to concoct political ideas, and to put them into practice to improve the process.

And it promised its students that if they worked hard, they too could get a college education, regardless of family income level.

Wisconsin was that state at one point. But since he came to office, Gov. Scott Walker has cut education at all levels, and our priorities have changed drastically.

In addition to millions of dollars in cuts to K-12 schools and higher education, the Wisconsin Covenant was also discontinued under Walker’s watch, a program which promised students earning a “B” average in high school the chance to go to a public university, no matter what their economic background was.

The rationale for cutting the program was that the state didn’t have the money to continue it. Some even blamed Gov. Jim Doyle, who created the program, when it ended up costing the state $25 million per year to keep it running.

But $25 million per year is a drop in the bucket when it comes to education spending in the state. And it isn’t hard to fund -- with about 2.9 million workers in Wisconsin, each worker would only have to contribute around $9 in taxes yearly to fund it, or about two-hundredths of a percent in taxes for the median household income for the state.

And it’s not as if government spending has gone down since Walker and legislative Republicans ended the program -- quite the opposite, in fact. The latest budget Walker signed is the largest in the state’s history at nearly $73 billion.

There’s plenty of reasons why we should restart the Wisconsin Covenant. It encourages students to work hard, earning good grades and becoming stellar members of the community in order to gain yearly grants that can go toward college spending.

The reasons against the Wisconsin Covenant -- costs, mainly -- are exaggerated. And the outcomes of those costs are well worth the spending.

At a time when students are struggling more than ever to pay for college, why are we against a program that combines personal responsibility with financial aide? It makes little sense when you think about it.

If the Democratic Party of Wisconsin is serious about winning back the state, they should play up programs like the Wisconsin Covenant. Resurrecting this successful program will surely play in their political favor -- but it will also do a lot of good for students in low-income families, and improve their chances to continue their education beyond high school.

That should be a priority for every Wisconsin citizen to embrace. Only fools would oppose such an ideal.

No comments:

Post a Comment