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Lawmakers should be cautious with move to change Oklahoma's Promise

by The Oklahoman Editorial Board Published: March 6, 2013

Osborn's premise that Oklahoma's Promise is an entitlement program should be rejected. In reality, it's an opportunity program and an investment in motivated young people who, in bettering themselves, better the state. Students must do their fair share of work throughout high school to become eligible for a scholarship and then through four or five years of college to retain it.

Oklahoma's Promise recipients go to college at a substantially higher rate than their peers. They require less remediation. They stay in school at a better rate, post higher GPAs and complete degrees at a higher rate.

No doubt the program is expensive. The scholarships are estimated to cost about $63 million this fiscal year. Osborn fancies herself savior of the program, but the only threat to the program is short-sighted lawmakers. She and others seem unimpressed with the process that funds the scholarships before any other government function, providing a good example of why a past Legislature saw fit to levy such protection.

In 2003, roughly 58 percent of Oklahoma families could qualify based on the $50,000 income limit. Now that number stands at about 46 percent. The scholarship program's income limit doesn't account for inflation.

Last school year marked the first time in the program's history that the number of scholarship recipients decreased compared with the prior year. The number is expected to fall again this year and next year.

Lawmakers shouldn't focus so much on immediate cost containment that they forget to look at the very real future costs of an undereducated citizenry.

by The Oklahoman Editorial Board
The Oklahoman Editorial Board consists of Gary Pierson, President and CEO of The Oklahoma Publishing Company; Christopher P. Reen, president and publisher of The Oklahoman; Kelly Dyer Fry, editor and vice president of news; Christy Gaylord...
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