Florida’s ongoing challenge to attract black students to its universities – especially from out of state – is being pragmatically addressed by Gov. Jeb Bush. The governor has recommended spending more than $50 million in the 2006-07 budget for more need-based aid and the creation of a first-generation scholarship program. Minorities are disproportionately represented in such criteria.
Critics and cynics, however, have found the recommendations an opportunity to retrospectively bash Bush for his One Florida plan that eliminated affirmative action in higher education. In so doing, they note, he created a situation that would inevitably lead to a diversity default. They also cite statistics such as Florida ranking first (of the 10 most populous states) in grants that are unrelated to financial need.
But let’s not jettison all context here. Grants based on merit – quaint concept that it is – deserve a better spin than that.