State will pay cost of college for Oregon tribal members going to school in-state –

The Legislature funded the Oregon Tribal Student Grant program to the tune of $19 million for 2022-23. Maximum grants will cover the average cost of attendance – including tuition, books, housing and more – for tribal members who attend an in-state community college or university.

Historically, I’ve favored government funding of community college education. Whether this holds in an era where public education is going down the drain, I’m not so certain. Has a similar decline in educational standards been seen at the community college level? I’m not sure. So my general support of free or low-cost community college tentatively remains. 

As usual, I’m against taxpayers funding a certain racial group to the exclusion of all others. This sort of discrimination might be acceptable for private parties who want to fund scholarships, but it has no place in government spending. In fact, Oregon Democrats’ latest scheme would be a blatant 14th Amendment violation except that the various tribes exist in a weird gray area. They are separate governments bound by various treaty obligations and covered under a strange patchwork of laws and governance. While I’m confident that this is another example of Oregon Democrats racially preferencing groups, I’m not convinced it’s illegal (unlike, ahem, some of their other legislation). 

The Oregonian’s coverage, as usual, ignores all this. Instead it highlights the financial challenges facing students:

Instead of taking classes for her computer science degree this spring, No’alani Malumaleumu spent 60 hours a week split between two jobs. In the mornings, she helped people with their IT questions for Cayuse Technologies, a tribally-owned company in her hometown of Pendleton. For the rest of the day, she worked at McDonalds.

Malumaleumu, 20, enrolled in the Oregon Institute of Technology last fall to pursue a degree in the tech field she discovered a passion for while working at Cayuse. But after two terms, her costs were starting to mount: Even with financial aid, Malumaleumu owed the school a few thousand dollars each term, and moving out of her parents’ house came with new expenses. She decided to take a break from school to pay off her debts, before racking up more.

I’m not sure how this is different from college students of other races. College costs are high and difficult for many to afford, something not unique to any racial group. (I’m also not sure that Malumaleumu moving out of her parents’ home was a great financial move, but we’re not given the particulars.) 

If we’re not going to provide community college freely or at low-cost for everyone, we have to prioritize those we support. Doing this on the basis of race makes little sense. Better would be prioritizing good students which is what we’ve done historically. The local community college here offers a full-ride to any Oregon high school student with a 3.5 or higher GPA. Even the Oregon Promise scholarship program offers substantial financial support and all that’s required there is a 2.0 GPA.

We don’t know why Malumaleumu apparently didn’t qualify. But would anyone be surprised if Oregon is now subsidizing not great students to go to community college, ignoring the idea that not everyone is a suitable candidate for higher education? Maybe Malumaleumu is a good candidate for higher ed and had issues that kept her from achieving a 2.0 in high school. But I can’t help but think that other kids of other races did too.