Here’s A School Not Ready To Cheer For The Tennessee Promise

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While the Tennessee Promise has received much acclaim, the four-year universities back in the Volunteer State have begun to react to the potential ramifications of the focus on community colleges.

One of the universities in the state system — the University of Tennessee at Martin in the rural northwest part of the state — has rolled out the UT Martin Advantage Scholarship and left no ambiguity in the written rationale. Straight from the Scholarship website:

This scholarship was developed in response to the reduction of the Tennessee Lottery Hope Scholarship. As a result of the Tennessee Promise, the Hope Scholarship dropped from $4,000 a year to $3,500 a year for freshmen and sophomores, and we want to give back to those who choose to seek a quality 4-year degree at UT Martin!

The website has multiple references to “the total collegiate experience” and “affordability.” It boasts of “scholarship opportunities comparable to the Tennessee Promise.” Clearly, this 7,000-student branch of the UT system isn’t going to wait to see how the state-wide initiative is going to impact it.

A Promise On Steroids?

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Back in November, at PromiseNet in New Haven, San Marcos Unified Schools Superintendent Kevin Holt served as a panelist for a session called “The Promise Is Not The Beginning,” focusing on the required pre-conditions to start a Promise program. That’s Holt on the far right in the photo above at Yale SOM following the Cities of Promise Town Hall.

Dr. Holt had been a driving force in the establishment of PACE Promise — a partnership between the school district, California State University-San Marcos and the Leichtag Foundation, which provided the funding. In the last five years, PACE Promise has provided financial and academic support to more than 300 students.

But now he is aiming for something larger; something that Logan Jenkins of San Diego’s Union-Tribune calls “PACE on steroids.” On Friday, Dr. Holt will host a city-wide town hall forum, to include political and business leaders, to discuss the creation of the San Marcos Promise, a $100-million investment in the students of the city.

On the table are everything from a parcel tax to a sales tax hike or even sugar daddies like the anonymous donors who have been floating The Kalamazoo Promise in Michigan for nine years now. Dr. Holt wants a multi-investment approach to his goal in making San Marcos the educational hub of the San Diego metro. “I don’t want to depend solely on foundations and corporations,” he told Jenkins.

Jenkins, who is moderating Friday’s forum, calls the proposal a “moon shot.” But we must remember, the moon was conquered.

MLK’s Purpose of Education

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An 18-year-old Martin Luther King, Jr., penned his thoughts of education — which served warning to students and teachers alike — in the Morehouse College student paper — The Maroon Tiger — in 1947. Here it is:

I too often find that most college men have a misconception of the purpose of education. Most of the “brethren” think that education should equip them with the proper instruments of exploitation so that they can forever trample over the masses. Still others think that education should furnish them with noble ends rather than means to an end. It seems to me that education has a two-fold function to perform in the life of man and in society: the one is utility and the other is culture. Education must enable a man to become more efficient, to achieve with increasing facility the ligitimate goals of his life.

cop-mlk-indyEducation must also train one for quick, resolute and effective thinking. To think incisively and to think for one’s self is very difficult. We are prone to let our mental life become invaded by legions of half truths, prejudices, and propaganda. At this point, I often wonder whether or not education is fulfilling its purpose. A great majority of the so-called educated people do not think logically and scientifically. Even the press, the classroom, the platform, and the pulpit in many instances do not give us objective and unbiased truths. To save man from the morass of propaganda, in my opinion, is one of the chief aims of education. Education must enable one to sift and weigh evidence, to discern the true from the false, the real from the unreal, and the facts from the fiction.

The function of education, therefore, is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. But education which stops with efficiency may prove the greatest menace to society. The most dangerous criminal may be the man gifted with reason, but with no morals.

We must remember that intelligence is not enough. Intelligence plus character–that is the goal of true education. The complete education gives one not only power of concentration, but worthy objectives upon which to concentrate. The broad education will, therefore, transmit to one not only the accumulated knowledge of the race but also the accumulated experience of social living.

If we are not careful, our colleges will produce a group of close-minded, unscientific, illogical propagandists, consumed with immoral acts. Be careful, “brethren!” Be careful, teachers!