Thursday, May 04, 2006

I missed something

I missed something significant in the article I mentioned below about some financial aid being set aside for students who take a sufficiently "rigorous" program in high school, which I came across in conversation with someone else today. The article points out of course that some schools do not offer all of the options that are required for students to qualify for this aid. Students at these schools will of course just be out of luck.

Now, just as a thought experiment, which schools have the fewest options for students? Would these be wealthy schools or poor schools? Which schools can afford to make sure they offer all courses for an "advanced" diploma, including silly computer programming courses? Which schools can recruit teachers to make sure every student who wishes to can take two years of foreign language? Which schools can afford to support AP and IB programs for its students? All of these things are required for a student to qualify for this new financial aid.

And why exactly are wealthy schools wealthy and poor schools poor? (Remember that US schools are financed locally, and usually through property taxes.) So this new program is in essence transferring 4.5 billion dollars of federal aid into funds that can only be used by at least moderately well off students. (The same bill which authorized this new aid also cut $13 billion in college spending.)

So if you're foolish enough to be born to poor parents and consequently attend a poor school, you will of course have limited opportunities up through high school. But should you manage to do well and learn anything anyway, there won't be money for you to go to a college which might help make up for what you missed out on in high school; the money has been reserved for students wise enough to be born to middle-class or higher parents.

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