As noted here the other day, young Tim Hudak, in another move that shows the caliber of his leadership of the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party, announced that student loans should be tied to student marks. This morning's Star describes his proposal as silly and his most preposterous policy statement yet (although I do suspect there will be some more headshakers coming from his office down the road.)
You can read the full editorial below, although I suspect its position will fork little lightning with Hudak, who tends to think only in very broad strokes:
American president Harry S. Truman once observed that “the C students run the world.” If Ontario Progressive Conservative leader Tim Hudak gets his way, they won’t even obtain a post-secondary education — at least one funded by government loans.
In his most preposterous policy position yet, Hudak says university and college students should receive loans only if they reach a certain — undefined — level of academic success.
It’s an absurd idea, tucked into an otherwise innocuous 27-page plan detailing Hudak’s vision for higher learning. As Truman (a Democrat) noted, it’s not just academic marks that propel people to success: character, drive and ingenuity are even better predictors of future triumph. But Hudak wants bureaucrats to create an academic cut-off point, blocking students with middling grades from getting student loans. “We feel it prudent to inject the student financial aide system with more market discipline,” his report says.
It’s worth noting that a political leader who preaches the merits of smaller government now wants bureaucrats to decide the academic future of our youth. Did he give any thought to this?
Many middle- or lower middle-class students rely on loans — which they pay back, with interest — to get an education. Curiously, wealthy students who don’t need to borrow will be free to explore academic mediocrity with no government slap-down.
It is true that many graduates struggle to find jobs in these challenging economic times. But the new reality is that most need more than one degree to find a viable career. Blocking education will not create economic growth.
While it’s not a new idea, Hudak’s plan rightly focuses attention on Ontario’s desperate need to train youth in the skilled trades. But not all young people should, or even could, become electricians or plumbers.
It’s already hard enough for young people to get ahead, and the government should not add more restrictions. Before an Ontario election is called, Hudak should drop this silly plan.
Perhaps Hudak needs inspiration from the words of Republican President George W. Bush in a speech to the 2001 graduating class at his alma mater, Yale: “To those of you who received honors, awards and distinctions, I say, well done. And to the C students, I say, you, too, can be President of the United States.” In other words — with a little financial help — you never know what a student might become.