In the State of the Union Address last night, Bush proposed a new “Pell Grants for Kids” program that would provide $300 million for poor chidren to attend private and religious schools, just as the “regular” Pell Grant program has enabled poor college students to “reach their full potential” via tuition support.
And the blogosphere has begun to weigh in:
The Mirror of Justice applauds the program as potentially stemming the closure of inner-city faith-based schools due for “financial reasons”, schools that he sees as providing vital alternative to children in chronically under-performing schools.
Other bloggers are far more critical:
The Carpet Bagger Report notes the obvious: that this is a voucher program that can’t be called a voucher program because the term “vouchers” does not poll well. He continues:
it’s ironic that Bush talked about the success of the Pell Grant program in helping “low-income college students realize their full potential,” given that his administration has repeatedly scaled back funding for regular ol’ Pell Grants.
The International Reading Association draws on the NYT’s reporting (as does The Education Policy Blog) that critics of the proposal wonder why, if NCLB is so successful, poor kids would need a program like this.
Greg Palast notes that given that there are 15 million poor children in this country, the $300 million for this program would provide only $20 per child. Accordingly,
George Bush’s alma mater, Phillips Andover Academy, tells us their annual tuition is $37,200. The $20 “Pell Grant for Kids,” as the White House calls it, will buy a poor kid about 35 minutes of this educational dream. So they’ll have to wake up quickly.
And The Engaged Intellectual asks whether this new initiative is intended to divert attention from the failures in NCLB in her scathing critique of each.
I’ll compile more here as bloggers continue to weigh in.