The budget proposed by Republican leadership in the General Assembly has come under attack recently because it reduces the allocation to Governor’s School by 100%- completely cutting its public support. For the uninitiated, Governor’s School is a six-week, summer enrichment program for academically gifted public school students. Under Democratic leadership, Governor’s School has already been forced to charge tuition, but it’s not nearly enough to fund all operations; hence the uproar.
I actually attended Governor’s School and concur that the experience was enriching and intellectually challenging- but that doesn’t mean we should continue to fund it. Our world is marked by scarcity, especially in the current recession. So our budget has to be about priorities. To have a balanced budget, we have to make cuts. What better to cut than Governor’s School?
Sure, it’s a life-changing experience, but why does the government have an obligation to subsidize someone’s life-changing experience? Governor’s School benefits mostly white, middle-class to upper-middle-class students. From 1986 to 2009, only about 25% of students who attended were on free or reduced lunch- compared to close to 50% for the state at large. If we’re talking about budget cuts, we’d rather see the money go towards paying for those free or reduced lunches than a six-week experience- first, subsidize sustaining life, then we can talk about subsidizing things that “change” lives.
If alumni are serious about wishing to continue Governor’s School, they have a ready solution: fundraise. The state allocation was approximately $850,000. With about 600 students going through the program each year, there is definitely a reservoir upon which concerned alumni could draw. But, of course, that requires hard work and persistence: something Governor’s School isn’t used to after years on the government dole.