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Sunday, October 23, 2005

21st Century Scholars

In two and a half years, you're sure to hear Indiana Senator Evan Bayh on the national campaign trail, talking about all his accomplishments (and primarily focusing on his accomplishments as Governor). One of them he's been talking about now is Indiana's 21st Century Scholarship program, which he started 15 years ago while governor. Poor students in junior high school who maintain passing grades and good citizenship get free college tuition at any participating public university.

It's even a voucher program! A student who chooses a private school gets an equivalent scholarship amount.

However, a report in the October 9th Indianapolis Star shows that 75% of childreh who sign up for college under this program never earn a degree, though they have 10 years to complete the degree.

Granted, many people who enroll in college never earn a degree. But one of the reasons people don't earn a degree is the inability to afford college. The 21st Century Scholars don't have that concern.

The article predictably focuses on the challenges these students face in transitioning to college. Fixing poor performing schools will go a long way to helping these students.

When you hear commentators praise this program in the future, look to see if they point out its flaws. Remember, you heard it here first!

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