State Journal: Scholarship flap; Money worries

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A Kentucky state senator unhappy with a new law found an unorthodox way of protesting last month--he wrote letters to students to tell them they might have gotten state scholarships if they had belonged to a minority group.

The Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority had awarded teacher training scholarships to 278 students. Under the law, aimed at increasing the number of minority teachers, 11 minority students were awarded the renewable $5,000 college grants even though they placed lower than some whites.

Sen. John David Preston, a Republican from Paintsville, decided to write the 11 white students denied scholarships to inform them of the way they were slighted. Some of his colleagues were not pleased.

"When you're a member of the legislature and you have disagreements with the policy, I think the appropriate thing is to deal with your fellow policymakers," one state senator said.

"It fans the flames of racism," complained Sen. Gerald Neal, a Louisville Democrat and the sponsor of the law. "The intent of the legislation was to afford an opportunity of reasonable access to scholarship money, which is tax money, where minorities have been locked out."

Senator Preston said it was lawmakers who voted for the plan who were guilty of racism.

Gov. Jim Edgar of Illinois ran into some protesters on the campaign trail recently--parents and employees upset about the latest money woes of the East St. Louis schools.

The district, which serves a poverty-stricken area, has chronic financial problems. Recent layoffs, needed to reduce a $10 million deficit, have led to classrooms with as many as 50 students and to cold school lunches.

About 35 protesters disrupted a meeting on conservation issues that Mr. Edgar was to address in Springfield on Sept. 30. He delivered the speech 45 minutes late, after agreeing to meet with the protesters later in the day. But he is unlikely to propose that the state bail out East St. Louis.

"I don't think you can just say we're going to give unlimited funds to one school district," Mr. Edgar said, according to The Associated Press. "I think they have to, as other districts have done, manage their money."

--Lonnie Harp & Julie A. Miller

Vol. 14, Issue 06

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