Future of Missouri Higher Education
Education is one of the most important issues facing our country, and the Show-Me State in particular. Missouri’s higher education system is currently ranked 47th in the country when it comes to funding. As a poor graduate student, I can not help but think about some of my peers who are swamped with loads of debt. It gives me nightmares! This November, both gubernatorial candidates of Missouri are offering slightly different solutions for funding colleges and universities in Missouri.
Jay Nixon’s Missouri Promise plan would expand the A+ Schools Program so that all Missouri high school students who meet the performance requirements are eligible to use an A+ scholarship to attend a technical school or community college. The students who participate in the A+ program would also be able to sign the “Missouri Promise,” a deal that allows them to use a new scholarship to earn a four-year degree after completion of their two-year degree. The Missouri Promise scholarship would be contingent on earning at least a 3.0 GPA, completing 50 hours of community service, and staying out of trouble.
Kenny Hulshof would increase needs-based scholarships and establish the Missouri Prosperity Initiative, a public-private partnership that would increase funding for biotechnology, math, chemistry, and engineering. According to Hulshof’s campaign information, “State contributions will be leveraged by requiring a 2-to-1 match from businesses and philanthropic interests.” The program would also fund an endowment to “help attract world-class researchers to Missouri,” and would peg Missouri’s spending on higher education to the rate of inflation plus two percent. This would all be subject to an annual “Missouri Higher Education Accountability and Performance Report.”
First and foremost, both plans tackle the issues of funding/student loan debt while allowing for a college education to be more accessible. I do like the Missouri Promise provision pushing civic engagement by making students complete 50 community service hours. While a two-year college degree is almost equivalent to a high school degree in our current fast paced society, there are a few students that might not have had the proper training to jump right in to a major four-year institution. So those two years at a community college might provide the right stepping stone to allow targeted students to get on track for a higher degree. I also enjoy the Missouri Prosperity Initiative’s plan to increasing funding for mathematics, chemistry, and engineering. All of these areas are going to play a major role in creating new businesses in a world dominated by technology. Finding ways to increase giving, and making funding recipients accountable is also a plus.
I could continue to go on about the pros, and then list the cons, but I would like see what you all have to say about it. …