First, I came across an article by the Associated Press on Florida's Bright Futures scholarship, the state scholarship that rewards Florida students for academic achievement by paying either 75 percent or 100 percent of tuition at Florida's community, state and vocational colleges. Bright Futures is funded by Florida Lottery proceeds.
I was intrigued by what one critic of the scholarship program had to say, former Florida university system chancellor now California university chancellor Charles Reed.
Critics sometimes call it the "BMW scholarship" because the windfall allows parents to use college savings for other purposes such as buying their children fancy cars.
"Go around the universities and look at the BMWs and Corvettes," said Charles Reed, a former State University System chancellor. "It's embarrassing."
"It does not have any need-based criteria, so the upper-middle class and the wealthy get rewarded," Reed said in a telephone interview. "It has to be one of the best giveaway programs in America."
Hmmm. I wonder what kind of car Reed's driving these days?
I happen to love the Bright Futures scholarship, and yes, we benefit from it. Our son qualified for the 75 percent scholarship and it is one reason he is doing so well in college. He knows that if his grades drop and he loses the scholarship, we're not paying his tuition. We're also not buying him a BMW. But we weren't going to do that anyway.
The article, which by the way points out that Bright Futures is so popular, no politician will touch it, also included another supposed criticism by Bright Futures opponents. That the program "helps the children of the rich at the expense of the poor, who buy lots of lottery tickets but are least likely to qualify for scholarships."
Did this line, which was not a direct quote, make it through the editing process as a joke? I mean, the last time I checked, the people at my local 7 Eleven and Winn Dixie buying lottery tickets were not purchasing under duress (unless you count having to wait in a line 20 minutes long because the lottery is so popular as duress) . It's not like any one's holding a gun to Granny's head to get those weekly Quick Picks.
Anyway, as I finished reading the AP article, I got an e-mail from Wondertwin that had a Florida Lottery connection. Seems that at her place of employment, a staff member takes it upon himself or herself to let other employees know when the lottery rolls over from week to week by sending a helpful email. Wondertwin, who doesn't often find herself "feelin' lucky", decided she'd had enough and sent the following e-mail to her fellow co-workers (which she agreed to let me share with you since I found it so amusing and it's Florida Lottery day on NativeMom):
I've given this a lot of thought, and well, I just don't feel comfortable with a lot of wealth. Statistics show that within 5 years I'd be depressed, broke, questioning my personal relationships and generally lacking direction in life. To that end, I ask that you please remove me from the Lotto e-mail list, but know that when you win -- and I feel certain that one day you will -- that I'll be here for you, holding down the fort while you trek to Tallahassee to collect your winnings.
(You're all coming back to work, yes?)