Issues with Promise Scholarship

In response to Adam Parkhouse’s column from July 21:

Adam and I agree that maintaining a GPA (What will it be?) and having a community service component are reasonable and laudable.

We begin to disagree on the requirement that scholarships must be spent getting an education at state run schools. Why would it make sense — and how would we benefit — to allow students to spend our money elsewhere? 21st Century Scholars also requires that their funds be spent at state schools.

We agree that the requirement for family home ownership will be unpopular. I’m disappointed Adam didn’t speak out against this. If I were an attorney, I’d already be planning a lawsuit claiming this requirement is discriminatory, and I’ll bet I’d win. Poor families — those who are most in need of financial assistance for their kids to go to college — are also the ones least likely to own their residences. To make this a qualifying requirement is downright unfair. Furthermore, attempting to “find a way around" this prejudicial condition, as Adam suggests is possible, seems the epitome of doubling down on what is, at surface, an unfair requirement.

Why in the world would Michigan City offer scholarships to students who live elsewhere? How in heaven’s name would we benefit from such a plan? On a practical level, children who live in the Michigan City Area Schools attendance district, but choose to attend private schools or be home schooled, tend to lower the GPA of our public schools. They also take resources away from our public schools, in terms of valuable qualified staff and the money our state gives them, which draws down our public school’s reimbursement from state and local taxes. It, therefore, seems perfectly legitimate to prorate any scholarships based on the number of years these students attend the public school system.

If I read the proposers’ motivation right, this program is meant to benefit Michigan City and enhance our future by providing a more educated, better prepared population of working young adults, thus enabling us to grow and prosper. Perhaps there is a way outsiders could be included, but it should not be so until as many local residents as possible are given a chance to take advantage of this offering.

Thank you to my friend, Mr. Parkhouse, for keeping the conversation moving along with his editorial contribution and to the city fathers for having the foresight and courage to plan for a successful future.

Chuck West

Michigan City


Need for CASA volunteers is high

The Department of Child Services recently released the Child Fatality Report for 2014 and, in La Porte County, we lost three children due to abuse and neglect. As we mourn the deaths of these innocent lives, we must acknowledge the societal issues that are linked to these deaths; low income, substance abuse and domestic violence. In 2014, the number of children living in poverty in Indiana rose from 26.9 percent in 2013 to 28.9 percent in 2014 according to the Kids Count data. It should not be a surprise that the number of child abuse and neglect fatalities related to low income has increased from 41 percent in 2013 to 61 percent in 2014.

The data regarding the substance abuse risk factor in child fatalities correlates with the increase of child abuse and neglect cases related to substance abuse and opiate use — a jump from 31 percent in 2013 to 59 percent in 2014. The Department of Child Services acknowledges that the report reveals a number of societal issues that are linked to almost every one of these cases and that the pattern of stress factors points to a larger and more widespread concern than DCS can address alone. You can read the entire report at percent202014 percent20Report.pdf.

Social service agencies in La Porte County have been discussing these issues for several years and we have made progress in creating new agencies for the homeless and unemployed, provide parent training and advocacy and mentoring programs. We need everyone working together on these issues – including the private sector. Business owners can help by supporting volunteerism in the workplace to allow for employees to become advocates, mentors or become a volunteer for an agency improving the lives of people in La Porte County.

The need for services for CASA volunteers has skyrocketed. At the end of June there were 96 children on a waiting list who are waiting to be appointed a Court Appointed Special Advocate and an additional 16 children were removed from their homes the week of July 11. Four hours a month can change a child’s life.

Karen Biernacki, CEO

Family Advocates


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