Alaska Scholarship Proposal Pushes ‘Rigorous Curriculum’

By Erik W. Robelen — January 29, 2010 1 min read
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As governors continue to deliver their annual State of the State addresses, filled with lofty rhetoric and promises—and a good deal of hand-wringing about the tough fiscal climate—today I’m turning to remarks by Sarah Palin’s successor in Alaska. Gov. Sean Parnell is looking to use a new college-scholarship program as a lure for Alaska students to complete what he calls “a more rigorous curriculum” than is currently required to earn a high school diploma.

(Recently, I’ve been highlighting what some governors have been saying in their State of the State speeches that may be of particular interest to Curriculum Matters readers, including the governor of Utah’s plans to promote “STEM” education and calls by the governors of Indiana and Arizona to end social promotion of students.)

To be eligible for the Alaska scholarships Gov. Parnell is proposing, students would have to take four years each of math, science, and English, and three years of social studies, he said in his Jan. 20 address.

“But for students who take this curriculum, better grades will mean greater tuition awards,” he said.

A student who maintains a C+ average and completes the required curriculum would earn 50 percent of their tuition at an in-state university or job-training program, the governor said. Earning a B average would earn 75 percent of tuition, and getting an A would provide full coverage by the state.

“Merit scholarships work,” Gov. Parnell said. “States with merit scholarships have measurably higher graduation rates, measurably higher academic achievement, and measurably higher post-secondary completion.”

I can’t speak to the accuracy of those claims. Post a comment if you have something to add. But I think it’s safe to say many Alaska families will find this plan pretty appealing, if the state has (or can find) the money to pay for it.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Curriculum Matters blog.