Pell Grant Reform?

Student Loan Image

I’ll probably make some people mad with my opinion about Pell Grants, but as the program is looking at a well that is quickly running dry, I believe that there is some level of accuracy in my concern.

First, let’s start with the problem I’ve stated before. The government is a business, they make money, they spend money, they do it from behind a veil of concern for you. As education is concerned the government does not deviate, hence the $41.3 billion profit posted for the 2013 fiscal year. According to the Detroit Free Press, that’s the third highest profit level in the world, behind Exxon Mobil and Apple.

Second, Pell Grants, though useful to good students that deserve the opportunity to pursue a higher education, do not need to be given to anyone over 30.

That probably sounds harsh, but when there are 18 year olds that want to pursue an education but can’t because of affordability, then no, I don’t think that a person who chose to work instead should be receiving grant money. Again, I empathize with those people that have personal or family issues that prohibit them from going to school, but having three family members that are well over the age of 30, just now pursuing their education, it upsets me to hear how much grant money they receive for an online education.

When I graduated from Western, I had never been eligible for a grant. Even in the year that my father was out of a job, a year with zero income, which FAFSA is supposed to take into account, my student loan amounts were reduced so that I was forced into taking out parent loans too if I wanted to continue my education.

Yes that was right, parent loans was the government’s answer to my family having zero income.

So if you want Pell Grant Reform, the government needs to do the same thing they should do with Social Security. Allocate money to the people that deserve it, stop handing out pity money, and at some point hold people accountable for the life choices that they make.

The older you are, the more opportunity you’ve had to pursue a career, which could be paying for the education that you suddenly realized you needed. A high school grad shouldn’t be penalized for your decision to work.

As far as money for education is concerned, this isn’t about reform, it’s about common sense.

School In, Education Out

IMG_1521North Carolina has been reamed by newscasters across the US for being awful in regard to its public education policies, but I live in NYC now. Today marking the first day of school for kids in the city, I thought it would be interesting to compare what was in the news, to how terrible people say North Carolina is.

We’ll start with the greater Carolina. Despite teacher cutbacks, Moral Mondays, and red for ed, the broad statistics seem to consistently put NC around the middle of the bunch. If you take a look at this Education Week grade map, NC sits right in the middle of a more concerning national acceptance of mediocrity. Considering folks are claiming the state is the worst in education, it seems that all of the brain power is getting lost in the facts.

I do support the move to pay teachers what they deserve, they control the quality of education that the future of this county is dependent on, but what I don’t support is educators blindly spouting “facts” as unrelated causes snowball together.

This understanding of the status of education in NC leads me to this: I’m appreciative of the standard of education that was set for me.

I posted last week about the Harlem Engagement Center, meant to help kids that missed a ridiculous 38 days of school. As you refresh that thought, note that today not only marks the first day of school for students across NYC, but it also marks the first time that Kindergarten is mandatory in the NYC school system.

Still think North Carolina is that bad?

Looking at the same reports referenced earlier, NY as a state seems to rank consistently in and around the top 5, but I think that grade was based on a curve. The republican candidates for NYC Mayor recently debated education, and candidate John Catsimatidis actually thinks that ushering kids to a high school diploma can get them a better job.

Yes, students need to graduate; no, you don’t have to make it easier. My stumbling point in his rhetoric though was how he believed that a high school diploma will prevent a graduate from working an $8 an hour job at a convenience store like the “typical” drop out. Unfortunately for Mr. Catsimatidis, the country is full of college grads working those $8 an hour jobs, so at what point is that drop out really any worse off?

Education across the country is in dire need of help, but I think the people that claim to have all the answers are actually the farthest from reality. I don’t have a solution, but I’d be awfully glad to help get us there.