As a mother and a decent human being, I never want a child, mine included, to feel like they are unable to participate in something they are interested in based on financial status. You can imagine my fuming rage when I got a note sent home about a free after school STEM program at my oldest son’s school that determined eligibility based on family income.
STEM talent (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) is something that employers are looking at more and more because these jobs are going unfilled due to a lack of interest from students. I am glad to see that schools are pushing these programs through their curriculum in order to attract students and build talent for these areas. These are hot commodity jobs and I think it’s great that STEM is getting more recognition.
And this is a big big issue with me personally – I don’t think it is fair to try and decide who can participate in any program based on their families income.
What does income have to do with it? If a child shows a true interest in one of the fields educators claim are lacking, why do their parents have to be in a financially difficult position for the child to participate? Why should a child who is interested be unable to participate because their parents are in a better financial situation than these standards dictate?
Shouldn’t the program allow students to participate based on interest and capability? You would think that schools wouldn’t isolate their talent pool of students based on income, especially if they are offering it as a free program regardless. If a school offers a program for free, it should be free to all. If you charge a fee for students to participate and expect you may lose potential talent due to income, set up a scholarship option. But don’t isolate kids from the beginning. No one wins in that situation.
All I am saying is that schools shouldn’t say, “there is a strong need for STEM talent,” and follow that up with, “but only low-income students are eligible.” We should let these types of programs be driven by capability and interest, not finances.
Talking out of both sides of one’s mouth is never an attractive trait.