Many college-hopeful Blacks facing darkened futures

caines | 4/25/2013, 5:30 a.m.

When youre running a race, one of the last things you want to hear is that you have to begin thousands of yards behind the starting line or that the field is uneven and that you have to somehow compete while negotiating a turf that requires you to run uphill. But thats the message that Floridas Republican-dominated lawmakers have basically sent to our youth with the latest changes that have been made to the States Bright Futures scholarship program. The original concept was to help high school graduates with good grades receive financial assistance so that anyone interested could attend college in their home state of Florida. But because the cost of the program has continued to climb each year since its inception, the Legislature has had to make some adjustments to the requirements of the lottery-funded scholarships. And given their typical wisdom, the Legislature has changed the requirements so that students must score higher on ACT or SAT exams. Analysts say the new criteria wont hurt middle-class, non-minority students but for minority students and the poor, the future looks far from bright. Blacks, for example, are expected to see a decline in scholarships by as much as 75 percent. And instead of the emphasis being on the grades of students, the majority of scholarships will go to those who can ace standardized tests. One more thing thats wrong with this picture is the fact that low-income families play the States lottery games at much higher numbers than more affluent families whose kids are already getting the greatest percentage of the Bright Futures scholarships. Lawmakers say their sole purpose in making the changes is to save money. But from our view, its just another smoke screen that places a greater burden on the backs of deserving minority and low-income students. Once again, theyre being required to run the race from a distinct unfair starting position. How they can expected to succeed?