Thursday, March 11, 2010

Opportunity Lost?

We received this e-mail today from the financial aid office at our daughter's college, Augustana College:

ATTN: Parents of Augustana students who receive the South Dakota Opportunity Scholarship:

2010 South Dakota Legislative News:

As you may have read or heard, funding for the South Dakota Opportunity Scholarship is on a list of proposed cuts being strongly considered.

Under the proposal, $2 million of the scholarship funding would be replaced by funds from private donors. Legislators have been advised by the Board of Regents that the possibility of donor support for this state-funded program is minimal. If the $2 million is cut, the scholarship program is in jeopardy. It is anticipated that awards to students will be cut in half or perhaps eliminated.

We want students and parents to know that this change is under consideration. If you feel strongly about this issue, we urge you to contact your local legislators regarding this issue immediately. The Legislature is expected to act on the final appropriations bill tomorrow (Friday, March 12).

Please paste this link into your browser to gain access to email contacts:

Well, naturally, that's upsetting on a couple of levels. First, of course, our daughter obviously is a recipient of the Opportunity Scholarship, and its loss certainly would be felt.

But second, we spend a lot of time in this state worrying about our talented young people scampering off to find opportunities elsewhere. I'm pretty sure that's why they call it the opportunity scholarship.

Without getting into the question of exactly who was sleeping at which switches, causing the state to be thrown into a vast pit of red ink, and understanding that hard choices must be made, blah blah blah, one does have to question the long-term wisdom of encouraging young people to seek opportunity somewhere else. Actually, one doesn't have to question the wisdom, for it is patently unwise. Whittling away at one of the
mechanisms designed to encourage the upcoming generation to stay, work, and contribute here will have the effect of causing them to seek opportunities elsewhere.

I've already contacted my legislators to encourage them to do what they can to preserve the South Dakota Opportunity Scholarship. If you live near my ZIP Code, I encourage you to do likewise.