Pell Grants for Kids

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.

5 thoughts on “Pell Grants for Kids

  1. Crimson Wife January 30, 2008 / 2:50 pm

    Why should only affluent parents have true school choice in this country? I find it very hypocritical when people who chose private or tony suburban schools for their own children are against programs providing choice for children from low-to-moderate income families.

    The experience in Sweden has shown that the competition from vouchers can lead to improvement in government-run schools.

    It is far past time that we allowed *ALL* families to choose the educational option that they feel is the best “fit” for their children- whether that’s a government-run school, a Catholic or other faith school, a secular private school, or homeschooling without government funding but also without government interference.

  2. The Urban Scientist February 1, 2008 / 7:40 am

    Pell Grants for K-12??!!! Looks like a (quality) free public education is going the way of the dodo. Let’s go back to colonial days…when only the weathy or cleregy-bound could get an education. Everyone else should serve as farm hands and learn useful trades (mechanics for boys and domestic arts for girls) the good old-fashioned way – apprenticeship. Send your first born other children with promise to school – spend all of fortune on that. Shove the rest of your children off on some tradesperson for 5-15 yrs as an apprentice and bingo.

    Private school/charter school is a great idea. But EVERYONE is trying to get their children in very expensive-cost-more than-college- pre-schools, grammer schools and high schools. You’ll be more in debt before they fill out their first FAFSA
    BTW, going to a shee-shee private school is NO guarantee you’ll get into or do better in college. I’m public ed K-12, college and grad school. My 3 sibs were private school educated, middle school and high school. 1dropped out of college,1 is in college doing great & the last never attended college. All are smart, great kids and good students. But they are representative of most at their private school my mother oohed & aahed over. Most of their school mates, haven’t gone to college either. Of those that do, most go to junior college and still flunk out. C’mon you spend 10-14K a year in secondary school cost and the avg kid goes to JUCO. That’s criminal. It’s a small school, but out of 30 grad per class, usualy only 3-5 go to a 4 year college AND graduate. The rest are still on their momma’s couch.

    The system in broke. Let’s fix it, not cover it up with a thin gauze.

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