Governor's ASPIRE choice disregards student leaders

ASPIRE (Arizona Student Program Investing Resources in Education) is a noble endeavor. Authored and pushed through the state legislature by the Arizona Student Associations, the program guarantees tuition at Arizona universities to 200 "at-risk" third-grade students as long as they maintain a "B" grade average and avoid trouble with the law.

Everyone agrees ASPIRE is a sound investment in education in Arizona. Unfortunately not everyone agrees who should be the student representative on the committee to oversee the program.

Governor J. Fife Symington's office was in charge of selecting the three ASPIRE committee members, one of whom was to be a student.

State Senator Bev Harmon ,R-Tempe, and ASA recommended a list of students who could competently serve on the committee. One of the names on that list was ASUA President T.J. Trujillo, one of the authors and chief lobbyists for the bill when he was an ASA representative last year.

Symington's office ignored the recommendations and instead selected a "conservative student representative" from ASU with no previous affiliation with ASPIRE.

To make matters worse, Symington's director of legislation and education policy said ASA members should be supportive of Symington's pick if they want to see the ASPIRE bill through.

Not only did the Governor's office fail to appoint a student representative with intimate knowledge of the ASPIRE bill, but it has essentially told student leaders, "If you don't support our pick, ASPIRE may not happen."

In the past the Wildcat has not rushed to stand alongside ASUA or ASA, but we recognize an injustice when we see it. Trujillo and his fellow ASA members worked hard on the bill and have a clear sense of the program's direction. To select committee members on the basis of party affiliation rather than experience is a slap in the face to the students and legislators who have labored on ASPIRE.

By ignoring ASA recommendations for the committee position, Symington truly shows how much he values the input of student leaders. We wish the governor and his office would look beyond party interests and do what's right for the future of a group of "at-risk" children. What's right is to have an ASA representative on the ASPIRE committee so a clear, knowledge-supported student voice can be heard.

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