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There are better ways to help Baltimore than free college tuition

I reacted with dismay to the proposal to offer full college tuition scholarships for all Baltimore high school graduates ("City applying to program that would promise college scholarships for all students," July 15).

Though the concept captures the spirit of change, spending $80 million on advancing free education for these students is misdirected.

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Nonprofit organizations, businesses and individuals are currently extending enormous efforts to institute positive changes with these students and their families. Attracting sufficient funding is always a challenge. Choosing to direct the limited resources to a somewhat whimsical notion may seem appealing, but it is unwise.

Unfortunately, a rather large percentage of high school graduates produce results in academic performance that are much below the 12th-grade level. Enabling and encouraging them to advance their schooling then puts burden of remediation on the colleges. Instead of creating a solution, it transfers the problem.

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Would it be worthwhile to consider another approach? Yes. But asking for the generosity of institutions and individuals to raise that kind of money for a catchy but poorly thought out effort is foolish.

Instead, direct that money toward ensuring regular healthy meals, safe streets and adequate housing. The need to meet these basics is far more important than underwriting the costs of a flashy headline.

Pat Bernstein, Baltimore

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