Favorite

Winners, losers 

The Arkansas Lottery limps along with generally static revenue. It is under-producing money for college scholarships and the awards continue to lose ground against college tuition increases required by declining state general revenue support.

The biggest losers have been the families who need help the most.

New legislation made a 19 ACT score the single qualifying standard for lottery scholarships this year. Previously, a 2.5 GPA also was a qualifier. Everybody suspected the new rule would depress applications and, along with a reduced first-year scholarship award (from $2,000 to $1,000), make the lottery revenue go farther.

At my request, the Department of Higher Education compiled data on scholarship applications and awards that included racial and economic impact.

Overall applications  dropped 16.5 percent, from 19,842 to 16,566. But broken down by race, the difference was stark. White applications dropped 10 percent, to 11,748, while black applications dropped 40.5 percent, to 1,867. The number of whites receiving scholarships dropped about 8 percent, to 8,698, while the number of blacks receiving scholarships dropped 36.4 percent, to 1,117.

Because scholarship applicants use a common scholarship/grant application form, most provide a figure for family income (not verified by tax returns in all cases). That provided another interesting figure: The average family income of scholarship recipients rose 7.5 percent, to $84,264. That's more than double the average family income in Arkansas.

In short, white students from families on the upper end of the income ladder in Arkansas were most likely to receive scholarships financed by lottery ticket purchases. Poor, black students were far less likely to qualify than in years past. It is no secret that Arkansas lags in both college-going and graduation rates and that poor and minority students disproportionately lag in those categories.

And yet the legislature just passed new legislation that seems to have helped those who needed help least. That is, they were students who were likely to be college-bound, lottery scholarship or no lottery scholarship.

Sen. Jimmy Hickey, the Republican who led the push for different scholarship standards, acknowledged that the outcome was not unexpected. He said race wasn't a concern, but making the money last was. He said students still could qualify for scholarships after starting college on their own if they achieved an acceptable grade point (and the award in subsequent collegiate years is now higher, $4,000 a year up from $3,000). If the lack of financial help in getting started is a concern, he said the concern would be better directed at the shortcomings of a system that is producing students unable to meet the ACT standard.

Hickey has a point. But those who make it would be better positioned to defend it with a record in support of universal pre-K and a range of other initiatives that help family development and education attainment. I still object to the use of a single test score as a measure of worthiness. Most educators believe grades are a better indication of college success than standardized test scores.

That debate aside, the demographic impact of the law change is stark. Those most in need are getting less. I fear this will be a theme of legislation other than lottery scholarships in the era of Republican domination of the legislature. It was evident in past Hutchinson administration tax policy, which left the working poor out of the last round of income tax cuts.

Favorite

From the ArkTimes store

Speaking of Arkansas Lottery

Comments (3)

Showing 1-3 of 3

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-3 of 3

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

  • North Little Rock mayor shows downtown plaza plan

    North Little Rock Mayor Joe Smith is presenting a plan to the City Council tonight for a downtown plaza meant to augment planned private developments and further enhanced downtown as a destination.
    • Sep 25, 2017
  • Attorney general asks for continued secrecy on execution drugs

    As expected, Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has asked the Arknasas Supreme Court for an "emergency stay" of a lower court ruling that the Correction Department must produce labels from one of the drugs used in executions.
    • Sep 25, 2017
  • Groups seek end to commercial collection of wild turtles

    Several environmental organizations to end commercial turtle collection in Arkansas.The harvests (more than 126,000 turtles from 2014 to 2016) are not sustainable and that, in turn, is damaging to ecosystems, the groups said.
    • Sep 25, 2017
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Bootstraps for me, not thee

    Mean spirit, hypocrisy and misinformation abound among the rump minority threatening to wreck state government rather than allow passage of the state Medicaid appropriation if it continues to include the Obamacare-funded expansion of health insurance coverage for working poor.
    • Apr 14, 2016
  • Trump: The Obama of 2016?

    Conner Eldridge, the Democratic challenger to incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. John Boozman, launched an assault on Boozman Monday morning rich with irony and opportunity.
    • May 5, 2016
  • Double-talk

    A couple of instances of doublespeak cropped up in Little Rock over the weekend.
    • Jun 29, 2017

Most Shared

  • Bad health care bill, again

    Wait! Postpone tax reform and everything else for a while longer because the Senate is going to try to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act one more time before September ends and while it can do it with the votes of only 50 senators.
  • Sex on campus

    Look, the Great Campus Rape Crisis was mainly hype all along. What Vice President Joe Biden described as an epidemic of sexual violence sweeping American college campuses in 2011 was vastly overstated.
  • The inadequate legacy of Brown

    LRSD continues to abdicate its responsibility to educate poor black students.

Latest in Max Brantley

  • Aid politics

    The still-unfolding catastrophe in Houston is, first, a human tragedy. But when politicians try to tell you that a time of enormous human tragedy is not a time to talk about politics, it likely means the politics are embarrassing to them.
    • Aug 31, 2017
  • Save the statues!

    The Democratic Party of Arkansas has called for relocation of Confederate monuments from public places, such as courthouse squares and the Capitol lawn, to history museums or private grounds.
    • Aug 24, 2017
  • Charter secret

    These are hard times for those who believe in traditional public schools, run by democratically elected representatives, open to all on equal terms.
    • Aug 17, 2017
  • More »

Event Calendar

« »

September

S M T W T F S
  1 2
3 4 5 6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13 14 15 16
17 18 19 20 21 22 23
24 25 26 27 28 29 30

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Sex on campus

    • Nobody is blaming the victim. There also isn't some sinister patriarchy going on, it is…

    • on September 25, 2017
  • Re: Sex on campus

    • I'm in my 50's. I don't think I know a single woman who HASN'T been…

    • on September 25, 2017
  • Re: Sex on campus

    • Here we see a "social scientist" who begins with an ad hominem argument, and then…

    • on September 24, 2017
 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation