State lotteries across the country were promoted as a way to support education, but a national investigation by the Howard Center for Investigative Journalism shows that promise doesn’t hold up.
Instead, lotteries often compound inequities by disproportionately benefiting college students and wealthier school districts far from the neighborhoods where most tickets are sold, according to the study that was published in June in The Post and Courier.
Bonnie Grossman’s July 13 letter in response to the article encouraged the South Carolina Education Lottery officials to refocus allocation of funds from college scholarships to elementary schools. It is the winner of the July Golden Pen Award.
She wrote: “The facts presented demonstrate how the plan is actually failing our educational system. I would like to see one more piece of research: How many students who receive lottery scholarships for their first year of college are academically eligible to renew them for the next year?”
Ms. Grossman noted that freshman year can come as a shock to many students. “They may have more independence than maturity and might not realize the competition for being near the top of the class has become much greater.”
She cited information from the Education Data Initiative website that showed a 24.1% dropout rate for first-time, full-time freshmen.
“I believe we are wasting money in this ‘take from the poor and give to the rich’ plan. Reverse the distribution plan and award two-thirds of the lottery money to elementary schools, where it would make a difference,” she wrote. “Everyone needs a solid education for our democracy to work. College is not a requirement.”
The Golden Pen is awarded monthly. Winners also are invited to an annual luncheon with the newspaper’s editorial staff.