Eyewitness News stories on the Tulane Legislative Scholarship program have prompted renewed calls for reform. That’s the topic of this week’s Commentary by Eyewitness News Political Analyst and Gambit columnist Clancy DuBos.
Clancy DuBos / Eyewitness News Political Analyst
NEW ORLEANS -- Sometimes it takes several tries to get it right. That appears to be the case with efforts to rein in abuses of Tulane’s legislative scholarships.
Back in 1995, public outrage led to some reforms of the program, which lets every state lawmaker give an annual scholarship to Tulane. The mayor of New Orleans gets five four-year scholarships every year.
Unfortunately, some lawmakers have given scholarships to children of political allies or contributors, which reeks of cronyism. Some, on the other hand, let independent committees screen the applicants. Some also refuse to accept campaign contributions from the parents of winners. That’s the right way to do it.
In New Orleans, a committee of high school principals and counselors recommends winners based on need and academic qualifications. That helps take politics out of the process.
Clearly, some changes are needed. The rules in New Orleans are a good model for lawmakers to follow. The rules also should prohibit lawmakers from accepting contributions from the families of scholarship winners.
Hopefully, the next time lawmakers visit this issue, they’ll get it right.