After Rep. Nate Bell floated his proposal to reform state lottery scholarships last week, I contacted Professor Robert Steinbuch of Little Rock’s Bowen School of Law. Steinbuch is an expert on student loan policy, and he had a great deal to say about the lottery’s financing of higher education as well.
Steinbuch generally supports the idea that we are wasting some money in higher education—that we need more accountability, and when a lottery scholarship student drops out of school, someone often should have to repay the funds to the state, with a significant caveat:
“Family calamities and medical illnesses should excuse students from repayment. And if a student flunks out while doing all the right things, he should not have to repay the money. But if the student fails to take his responsibilities seriously, causing him to flunk out, then he should repay.”
Steinbuch’s proposal, however, also adds a key element: the determination of responsibility. That is, “who is at fault for the student’s exit from school?” The student? An unforeseen circumstance? Steinbuch’s answer (at least in some cases): the school.
A few observations from the article that would be hilarious if they were not so sad, and related to such a serious matter:
- The paper spoke with Mr. Osborn about the incident. His response? ”I wasn’t THAT drunk!” Direct quote: “I wasn’t highly intoxicated and I wasn’t driving erratically.” Searcy PD seems to disagree with that assessment…as does Mr. Osborn’s breathalyzer.
- White County Judge Mike Lincoln was asked to comment about the incident. His response? “I would hope that [all county officials] would adhere to the law…I want to refrain from comment until we get more information.” Mr. Osborn’s blood-alchol level was .13. Respectfully, what further information is needed before this actions are condemned?
- Judge Lincoln also said he ‘wasn’t sure if the offense could lead to removal from office.’ Quite honestly, that could not be more irrelevant. Mr. Osborn should resign, and the judge should be demanding that he do so.
I think this incident demonstrates a broader problem that we have in our humble White County community: a lack of humility from public officials. Some would even call it arrogance. It is not only a feeling of entitlement and disregard for the law, but a failure to accept responsibility for mistakes.