Angela Kennecke reports that in the first years of its GEAR UP program, South Dakota spent $14 million over six years with the intent of sending three more Indian kids to college:
…former grant writer and reviewer Michael Wyland says people should remember it took a couple of years to get the program off the ground.
However, he says the original goal of GEAR UP was to only increase the number of students accepted into college by five percent or just three students.
“After $14 million of effort, you would hope you’d get more than three additional students going. The good news is they were successful in getting far more than three additional students going,” Wyland said.
But GEAR UP still failed to meet objective after objective according to the final performance review [Angela Kennecke, “Following GEAR UP to Its Beginnings in SD,” KELO TV, 2015.12.29].
Kennecke says a performance report (which she doesn’t put online, because when KELO gets a document, they don’t believe in letting us see for ourselves) shows the first GEAR UP program sent twenty kids to college. $14 million, 20 students—that’s $700,000 per student.
Wyland figures that since 2005, South Dakota has spent $48 million in federal and state funds (that includes the match we’re required to put forward) on GEAR UP. If we had applied $48 million to scholarships, we could have given 800 Indian students full-ride four-year scholarships to South Dakota public universities. Republicans go bonkers when they think someone’s advocating “free college,” but wouldn’t free college have been a better use of that money than whatever South Dakota did with GEAR UP?
South Dakota’s Department of Education has let a 48-million-dollar boondoggle roll on for over ten years without demanding any concrete results. South Dakota Legislature, you’ve authorized this spending authority without asking harder questions. Legislators, before allowing the Department of Education to slide this program over to the Board of Regents, you will finally ask Secretary Schopp those hard questions, won’t you?