Bright Futures needs a makeover

A new obstacle has arisen for many of Florida’s current and future scholarship recipients. New complaints have come up over the $164 million Bright Futures Scholarship available to students in order to help with the partial or full cost of college.

Of course there are requirements, “rigid minimum SAT and ACT scores” and high grade point averages, which a coalition of civil rights organizations and education advocates who filed the complaint claims violate federal law.

The argument is centered on minority students who, while having high GPAs, cannot meet the minimum standardized test scores necessary to obtain the scholarship.

The reason actually merits some attention. As most already know Miami-Dade’s school system is still reeling from an enormous $43 million budget cut instituted by Governor Bush last year.

Due to an already tight budget the school system is not able to provide adequate study help for the SAT or ACT. College Prep classes offered by outside agencies range from $700 and up.

How can students, mostly Hispanic and black, living in sub par and impoverished neighborhoods keep up with families who can afford to get their kids tutoring, study books and one-on-one attention?

How do local companies such as Kaplan and Toby Rose’s College Prep justify charging such enormous sums of money for a set of classes lasting two months or less?

I would love to say that everyone has the same opportunities to learn and achieve academic success. But as a former student of Miami Palmetto Senior High and an education minor, I know what opportunities such as an SAT class can do for your SAT score. I also know that high grade point averages are not always a clear indicator of a student’s intelligence or ability.

The state does not need to modify SAT requirements; they need to overhaul the scholarship program. Scholarships should never be awarded based on GPA’s and SAT scores alone. Neither are accurate indicators of scholarship worthiness. Activities ranging from sports to student government make a well-rounded student, not the numbers that are negotiable.

Although I have not taken an SAT since the fall of 1998, I remember what it was like: impossible questions, unreadable (and boring) passages and math problems that I still would not be able to solve.

How can we expect students to know and perform well on the SAT when most of the vocabulary, subject matter and math equations are never brought into the classroom? Worst of all is the idea that these scores are used in admissions to schools and determination of financial help through scholarships.

How can you compare scores when one student can afford the private classes and the other cannot?

Why can’t the Florida see and acknowledge the difference between a $12,000-per-year private school student and a student who attends a failing school and works full-time to help pay the bills?