When the HOPE Scholarship came into debate not long ago, I fought against the changes being made. Not on the foundation that we should not make changes— because there are many government programs that need trimming—but I based it off the timing of the cuts, which hurt the current students. I stressed the point that rural communities in Georgia would suffer more than anyone else in the state.
Unfortunately, I was accurate.
The AJC reported that the students benefiting from the newly formed Zell Miller Scholarship [the newly formed one hundred percent HOPE Scholarship] were from the Atlanta’s affluent suburbs. “Those most likely to afford college without the state’s financial help are benefiting the most from the full-tuition scholarship, while students from low-income homes and the first in their families to attend college are least likely to get it.”
This should come at no surprise because metro Atlanta does have the states top high schools and the most affluent communities. Who is left out? Rural communities like Polk County.
The data on HOPE shows that communities like ours are not receiving many benefits from the current structure of the program. Rural communities buy more lottery tickets than other counties, but we receive less now in education scholarships.
Sen. George Hooks from Americus stated, “The poorer areas are buying disproportionate amounts of lottery tickets and getting little in return.”
I am not saying that buying tickets should determine our amount of benefits, but I do believe that our education system is just as important than any other county in the state. Education is economic; both go hand in hand. This scholarship was not set up to favor a few; it was established to help ALL Georgians.
What we have to realize as a state is that education is now economics. If we want a job force that will stay in Georgia, we need educated individuals that can lead today. In rural communities we need students to go off to college and experience new ideas, new environments, and hear other points of view. Then these students can learn how to adapt in another society, but at the same time learn from others.
After they receive their education and broaden their scope of life, a community like Polk County can benefit from these new dreams, new environments, and these new ideas. All of the above brings hope to our future, it brings hope to our community, and that hope in turn will benefit our community!
Jordan Hubbard, Cedartown