|The Detroit News Editorial: Save the scholarships|
Thursday, June 18, 2009
Editorial: Save the scholarships
Governor, lawmakers must find budget cuts elsewhere to preserve state college scholarships
The Detroit News
Not so long ago, it would have seemed odd to hear so much talk about education at a summit devoted to reviving America's industrial might.
But speaker after speaker at the National Summit on the economy in Detroit emphasized the fact that a strong manufacturing base depends on a highly skilled work force.
Chip McClure, chief executive officer of auto parts maker Arvin Meritor, said his factories require workers with at least a high school diploma and often a two-year college degree.
Former Michigan Gov. John Engler, now head of the National Association of Manufacturers, said this state could make giant strides in rebuilding its economy if it reduced its high school dropout rate to zero.
Dow Chemical Chairman and Chief Executive Andrew Liveris said the country has to produce more engineering Ph.D.s if it hopes to again be the place where things are made.
And Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer said, "We have to provide a first-class education to every person."
But Lansing doesn't seem to be listening. While the summit was underway in the Renaissance Center, the state Senate in Lansing was moving to eliminate the $4,000 merit scholarships that help make college affordable for Michigan students.
The senators are looking for every avenue to reduce spending, as they should.
But tuition costs in this state have risen more than 50 percent during the past decade, and college is increasingly out of reach for many middle-class families.
Gov. Jennifer Granholm says she will not allow the scholarships to be zeroed out of the budget. Good.
But the governor has the responsibility now to set clear spending priorities. If improving the state's education performance is a high priority -- and it should be -- then Granholm must help lawmakers find spending cuts elsewhere to make the merit scholarships affordable for the state.
Education can't just be a priority in speeches or in position papers. It has to be a real priority in the budget.