Scholarships prevent youth out-migration

Scholarships prevent youth out-migration By Guest commentary Governor Janklow's proposed scholarship program for South Dakota high school graduates to attend an institution of higher education in South Dakota to obtain a degree addresses several education issues and the tobacco issue.

However, the most important impact is that the scholarships will decrease the out-migration of young people from South Dakota. Presently, about 30 percent of our high school graduates go on to higher education. Of this 30 percent, about 75 percent go on to a South Dakota school. Eighty percent attend a public state school and 20 percent attend a private non-profit college.

Surveys have shown that if our high school graduates attend a South Dakota university, college, or tech school and graduate, then 60 percent will remain in South Dakota. Whereas, normally if the high school graduate does not attend a college or tech school in state then only 40 percent will stay in South Dakota with 60 percent leaving. Therefore, we could see a sharp decrease in out-migration of our youth if we can encourage our high school graduates to graduate from a post-secondary school in South Dakota, either public or private.

The scholarship program hopefully will also increase the 30 percent of high school graduates who attend South Dakota higher education institutions to perhaps 50 percent which would keep more young people in South Dakota. Those young people who go on to school are less likely to leave the state. Also, the scholarship program must include both public and private schools since we cannot afford to disenfranchise those high school graduates (20 percent) who wish to attend a private college. Our goal should be to allow every high school graduate to attend a South Dakota school because we cannot afford to lose one college graduate!

The scholarship program will improve the quality of K-12 education as our students strive to obtain the scholarships and they will reduce the number of freshmen who need to take remedial math or English. The Regent Scholars must maintain a B average and take four years of English, four years of math, four years of sciences, three years of social studies, two years of foreign language, and one-half of fine arts and computer science each.

The number of college and tech school graduates will also increase to meet the job requirements for the future, which will make South Dakota more attractive for economic development and job growth.

And, the program will also reduce tobacco usage by not allowing smoking or chewing. You cannot continue to receive the scholarship is you smoke or chew.

As pointed out by the governor, "the tobacco settlement money is meant to replace money that should have been spent on education and other programs." The scholarship program meets all the criteria of having an impact on our young people and should be available to every high school graduate to attend and graduate from any college, university, or tech school in South Dakota.

The Scholarship Program certainly is a win-win for South Dakota:

* The Scholarship Program decreases the out-migration of South Dakota youth (Could decrease from 60 percent to 40 percent)

* The Scholarship Program updates the quality of K-12 education

* The Scholarship Program increases public and private college, university, and tech school graduates in South Dakota.

* The Scholarship Program reduces tobacco use.

Editor's Note: Ron Williamson is president of Great Plains Public Policy Institute, a public policy and educational institute. More information is available at

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