Lanny Keller’s Inside Report in the February 17th edition of The Advocate in Baton Rouge described the stubborn politics in Louisiana that stymies progress on TOPS and Go Grants. Here is an excerpt:
The [recent Louisiana Budget Project] study points out what is common knowledge at the State Capitol about the TOPS awards: They go disproportionately to students who can afford to pay for college, and they reward students who do only high-average work in high school.
However common that knowledge is, the reality is that TOPS is a popular entitlement for the middle- and upper-class families who vote.
Politics prevents any kind of rational discussion of this program. Named in honor of the late oilman and philanthropist Patrick F. Taylor, his family foundation in New Orleans vigorously lobbies against restrictions on TOPS awards.
The debate about diverting the tobacco settlement for TOPS funding should not be an election-year gimmick for Jindal and lawmakers.
Instead, the diversion of the tobacco settlement ought to provoke a serious debate about whether state money should subsidize the tuition of children of the affluent, while short-changing the children of poorer families who see in college educations the path to a brighter future.
This would honor the spirit of Pat Taylor’s original and noble initiative, in which he promised to pay out of his own pocket for the college educations of a class of students in an inner-city school in New Orleans.