Monday, September 17, 2007

Roberta Gassman Brings "Wisconsin Covenant" To Waukesha

One of the more revelatory story lines in the current political season has been the curious reaction of some Republicans to Gov. Jim Doyle's "Wisconsin Covenant" plan.

The Covenant will guarantee space in the Wisconsin higher ed system, and financial aid, to Wisconsin 8th and 9th grade students who graduate from High School with at least a "B" average, and meet a few more criteria.

Sounds like a good idea - - promoting high school achievement, and keeping good students in-state to enjoy the colleges and universities their parents have supported with their taxes - - right?

Well, the Republicans have been grumbling, as they do about virtually every bit of guvmint spending and planning, unless there is a new lane of interstate highway, or a shiny new water pipeline from Lake Michigan, or a bit of corporate welfare involved.

It's a stunt, they say of the Compact.

The funding isn't there yet. (Same thing could be said for the next $5 billion or so of the Southeastern Freeway reconstruction and widening plan, but that doesn't stop anyone from assuming it will go off on schedule.)

And on and on - - when the truth is, the program is innovative, and forward-looking, and if the Republicans could set aside their partisanship and ideological blinders for thirty seconds, they'd see that this is a winning idea for students, their school districts, parents and the state's workforce and business outlook, too.

Roberta Gassman, Wisconsin's Secretary of Workforce Development, took the message to a Waukesha High School, where critics wondered why this program would be touted in upper-income Waukesha?

Talk about folks having a puffed-up opinion of themselves.

There are plenty of middle-and-working-class kids and families in Waukesha that would love to have college admission questions settled, and some financial aid in the package, too. Based on academic performance.

What's not to like?

It was tactful for Gassman to point when she was in Waukesha that the program was non-discriminatory.

Could it be that the concept of inclusion is farther out of the mainstream in Waukesha than I thought?


Dave said...

Seriously what could possibly be more important to our economic future than a college educated population?

James Rowen said...

This was my point. But the Right wants it on its terms: pulling yourself up and into a six-figure job by the bootstraps, or through a legacy admission to college.

Offer a practical plan that's universal, and then come all the complaints and caveats.

Total hypocrisy.

Anonymous said...

I am a conservative and I think that this is a great idea. I need to know the details, but on the surface this is forward thinking proposal. The only way to get people into better jobs and out of the poverty cycle is for them to become better educated. However, safeguards must be put in place, so kids will not use this program as a free ride to party.

James Rowen said...

I'm sure the program will have safeguards, more like incentives, and I don't think a "free ride" is guaranteed. More like some aid, but I am glad to see that the program's solid intentions are visible.
Thanks for the comment.