Cross-posted at Daily Kos

Let the market decide.  Let people do for themselves.  Private charity can take up the slack for failed big government programs because it is more efficient.

All mantras of conservatives, especially those compassionate conservatives who see a better world in their mottos of self-reliance, the invisible hand and private philantrophy.  The poor and impoverished can acheive their goals not through wasteful government spending, but by working hard and relying on the private sector to give them a leg up in life.

Well folks, it ain’t necessarily so.

(more after the fold)

Ten years ago, the girls were among a group of 63 inner city six-graders promised full college scholarships if they stayed in school. But it wasn’t until the students were high school seniors that they learned the money wasn’t there and the foundation that promised it had folded.

. . . By late 2000, the senior class at Cardozo High School was in a panic. Many students (the majority had come from Bruce-Monroe) had not applied for college or financial aid yet; many parents hadn’t saved any money for college, believing their children had full scholarships waiting for them.

So who stepped into the breach to help, when the promises of so-called philantropists failed to come through?  Well . . .

The District of Columbia College Access Program, which has helped fund some of the Bruce-Monroe students, is trying to track down the 30 members of the ’95 class who went to college out of the 63 who graduated. Executive director Argelia Rodriguez said she knows of five students, including Layla and the Cofield twins, who will receive college diplomas this year. Five others should graduate next year.

So thanks to a DC Government program, and to financial aid packages that some colleges offered, 30 of the 63 went on to college.  Five graduated.  That’s it.  And what about the many other schools where no “private foundation” made any promises of assistance?

That’s the problem with private solutions to societal issues like access to higher education.  They fail to adequately address the problem, because they are too few in number, and are just as prone to break their promises as any other business.  That’s the problem with “compassionate conservatism” in a nutshell:  too little help gets to to few people.

What if we had a program (like California used to have) that offered assistance to eveyone who graduated high school?  What if we had a national program that guaranteed a higher educational opportunity for everyone who graduated high school, not just those with sufficient resources, or the lucky winners of the shrinking financial aid lottery jackpot?  

Oh, I forgot.  We have Republican government, where the dreams of the many are deferred or erased to fill the wallets of the few.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for philantrophy, but as the sole basis for fulfilling societal needs and making this a country that truly offers everyone an equal shot at the “good life” it is woefully inadequate.

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