A quick question: Is there any expansion of the government budget that the Providence Journal editorial board wouldn’t support?
Given its importance, it makes sense that parents and teachers and schools should be encouraging students to prepare for and take the SAT. Thus, Gov. Gina Raimondo is on the right track with her plan to make the PSAT and the SAT “free” for Rhode Island public high school students — funded by the taxpayers, that is — and let them take the test during a school day rather than on a Saturday.
It stands to reason that both of these moves will encourage more students to take the test — particularly those who might find it difficult to pay a registration fee that can be more than $50. It also stands to reason that more students taking the test could result in more students choosing to attend college or further their education. According to a 2015 College Board study of Maine’s decision to make the SAT mandatory, the policy resulted in a more than 40 percent increase in the number of students taking the test and a 2 to 3 percent increase in the state’s college enrollment rate.
The one data point — that is, the one statement that doesn’t take the form of “it stands to reason” — is a study of Maine’s mandating the SAT, which study was performed by the College Board. The editorial doesn’t happen to mention it, but the College Board sells the SAT. It stands to reason that readers should be skeptical when a private company finds it beneficial for the government to force people to use its product.
But what about the conclusions that the Providence Journal reaches simply through reasoning? Is the cost of a $50 test really what’s keeping students from committing to spend tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars on college? Perhaps the editors would note the proliferation of scholarships and loans that make college “affordable” for lower-income students, but shouldn’t there be any cost to the prospective student, causing him or her to give some thought to his or her reasons for attending college?
Apparently not. So, you and I will pick up this $50 tab. Then, we’ll subsidize the individual students’ tuition, which very likely is a big part of the tuition inflation that affects everybody. Then, if they live in or move to Rhode Island, we’ll pay their loans fully for a few years. Then, if they still find themselves struggling with debt in a failing economy, we’ll cover them with food stamps, Medicaid, housing subsidies, and a number of other welfare programs.
And all of this, by the way, is before we challenge the editors’ dubious assumption that students emerge from subsidized college, which they attend without immediate reason to weigh the cost, “well educated.”