I like to spend a few minutes every morning giving some background information and discuss some of the issues the legislature is considering this year that may be of interest to many of you. This morning the topic is scholarships.

The traditional approach is to provide taxpayer money to the state board of education and let them hand out scholarships based upon need and merit i.e. those that are poor and/or those that have excellent grades.

A new approach being considered is based upon productivity of the student. Rep. Ryan Kerby has written a scholarship that any high school student can receive if they earn at least 10 dual credits in high school and find an industry to match the scholarship. The state would provide $500 for four semesters and private industry would provide at least $500 per semester for four semesters to be used in an in-state institution of higher learning. This would include colleges and universities but also professional-technical courses such as welding, plumbing, and computer skills etc.

Here are a few of the advantages that I see of the Kerby Scholarship.

  1. Certainty: Students know that if they take 4 dual credit classes and find an industry match, they will have a scholarship worth $4,000 over a two year period. ($1,000 per semester, ½ state funds and ½ private funds)
  2. Weighted or targeted funding: industry will have a voice in determining how the money is used. If welders are needed, industry writes a scholarship requiring a certain set of skills. Industry will fund scholarships in the areas where it has greatest need.
  3. Less taxpayer money: since industry must match the funds from the state, the state will get twice the bang for the buck compared to a traditional scholarship where state funding is 100 percent
  4. Empower students: students will be empowered because they know that if they work, they will receive a scholarship. This will allow them to believe they really can attend a post secondary institution of higher learning.
  5. Student focus: this scholarship will encourage students to consider and make career choices sooner which will cut down on changing majors.
  6. Work based: the Kerby Scholarship encourages and promotes work and effort in high school. It does not reward grades, only, or poverty, only. It rewards work and production.
  7. Connectedness: students will connect with industry sooner which will lead to more part-time jobs, internships, and employment.
  8. Tax base: with more focused students, receiving training in needed professions, and fewer major changes, these students will enter the labor force one or two or more years earlier with higher skill levels which demand higher wages. All of this will contribute to the strengthening of the economy and the Idaho tax base.

What is the cost? In analyzing the cost, there are two things to consider; first, the actual cost and; second, the cost avoidance of the proposal. Since this post is already long, I will address cost issue in another post.