Editorials and Opinions

CON: Opposing Viewpoints – …the ends of the spectrum

By Alice Lee
Published: May 2009

The issue of budget allocation has become especially critical in the past few years of recession. The overall goal of expenditure should be to foster academic success as much as possible. To that end, it is necessary to strategically offer aid to certain groups of students. It’s all a matter of capitalism.

I’m not talking supply-and-demand, but the idea that an individual can, by hard work, earn his just desserts.
If a student works for success, academic, athletic, or artistic, why should he or she not receive some measure of financial boon? Not only would it provide incentive, but it would cultivate the growth of students with great potential.

Choosing to ignore talented individuals because it’s “unfair to others doesn’t sound justifiable at all. Cutting Honors classes, APs, and merit scholarships sounds downright regressive.

While “equal opportunity is rhetorically admirable, it should be approached realistically. Bringing everyone to the same level of relative mediocrity would be reasonable if everyone were already at the same level of sub-mediocrity.
However, the actual school population is a spectrum of levels of success and talent. Moreover, even the equal opportunity ideal includes aiding the lower tiers, allowing them the same chance to succeed as everyone else.
While we’re analogizing democracy, we should mention the New Deal, Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s program of relief, recovery, and reform during the Depression (AP US History, I’m looking at you). FDR threw laissez-faire to the winds and adopted Keynesian governmental intervention during economic recession.

What I’m driving at is that the New Deal focused in great part on extending assistance to the hardest-hit demographic. It did not propose equal aid so that the destitute would receive the same proportion as the upper middle class.

Similarly, the school budget should target the students who need it most’€the academically struggling, those in need of financial aid, those with Special Education needs. It seems counterintuitive to coldheartedly refuse to help them on the grounds that welfare causes dependence, while refusing to help students with great potential on the grounds that everyone deserves the equal opportunity to succeed.

And the the “middle ground majority? These students, of average academic standing, no special needs, and good financial solvency, would not be overlooked completely. By putting emphasis on more incentive, these middle-ground students would have motivation for greater success.

Speaking economically, allocating budget to the extremes of the student population unites the principles behind trickle-down and welfare. Trickle-down economics proposes that by offering aid to the upper tier of the economy, the benefits will “trickle down and help the broad population.

The concept of welfare is familiar enough, helping the needy and giving them a chance to succeed. Reaganomics meets New Deal… how could it possibly go wrong?

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