Making Life Better For Our Children

Revitalizing the devastated economy in West Virginia will not be easy. One key is making our state more attractive to businesses that provide good-paying jobs.

One thing that holds us back both in perception and reality is that we are a bunch of dumb hillbillies. Like it or not, fair or not, that is how many of our fellow Americans view us.

The reality is that just 18.7 percent of Mountain State residents 25 or older hold bachelor’s or advanced degrees. That is the lowest percentage in the nation, far below the 29.3 percent national rate.

Obviously, we need to do more to get that number up. For 15 years, we have been doing something good in that regard.

It was in 2001 that, under then-Gov. Bob Wise, the Promise Scholarship program was established. Since then, it has provided nearly $550 million to more than 40,000 West Virginians seeking to earn college degrees.

Beyond any doubt, many of them would not have been able to go to college without Promise. Many of those who could have managed it would have left school with crippling loan debt had they not received Promise help.

Much of Promise’s history was in relatively good times for the state, however. Now state government has trouble paying its bills. There will be temptation to save some money by cutting back on Promise Scholarships.

It’s a bad idea for this simple reason: In a very real way, we can’t afford to save money that way.