Recent publicity about the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery and a personal experience with another college scholarship program which I feared might be affected by our lottery has caused me to once again evaluate the full impact of these Lottery Scholarships on our state. First, let me disclose that I was never a fan of the lottery for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that there seems to be something basically out of whack to me when an endeavor takes 75% of the proceeds of its operation for administrative, staff, marketing and payout expenses, and then sells the true value of the program on the remaining 25% of the proceeds, even though that minority portion may go for the worthy cause of funding college scholarships. Then there are the social, economic and moral issues widely publicized that always seem to go with this type of gaming.
Those questions aside, I was always curious as to what effect this new pool of scholarships, which are based strictly on grade point or ACT scores ( go to http://ltgovernor.arkansas.gov/scholarship_lottery_faqs.html for a complete Q and A on these criteria), would have on other existing college scholarships which require an application process that examines a variety of factors including need, superior academic achievement, participation in extracurricular activities, community service, work history, teacher and counselor evaluation, etc., all of which form the basis for judging the whole person before awarding financial assistance to students pursuing a college degree. Well, I found out. In the case with which I am familiar, the Lottery Scholarships may well have been a contributing factor in a drastic reduction in the number of applicants this year compared to previous years. While by no means conclusive, there seemed to have been a prevailing attitude among graduating seniors of one known high school of why bother when I can get more financial assistance by just passing the two thresholds mentioned above. Is this possible unintended consequence a good thing? Frankly, I don't know, but a couple of people with whom I have visited who do know about these things think not. However, I would be interested in knowing what you think, so please offer your comments.
On another note, beginning today I would like to start recognizing some of our great local artists in Little Rock by featuring their websites for you to access and enjoy the fruits of their talent. As time goes on I would like to add others, so please advise of any known such websites.
First is Laura Raborn's at http://www.paintingsofhome and http://www.claygifts.com
Second is Jim Johnson's at http://www.yessy.com/jimjohnson/gallery.html