It may not be a bad plan,

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 1, 1999

but lottery has holes

By AMY S. LANSDON

Published Oct. 1, 1999

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Tim Huddleston and Bill Harris both presented good arguments for and against the lottery at the lottery forum sponsored by the American Association of University Women.

I went to the forum as a full supporter of the lottery, but left with questions. My questions did not regard the morality of a lottery, but whether a lottery can actually assist the education system in Alabama.

Both Huddleston and Harris were concerned about the future of the children of the state. They both truly sold me on the fact that the children was their biggest concern. But to me Harris certain had the strongest case against the lottery.

But just one person’s opinion can not sway my decision to vote for or against something that could be the answer for the problems with the Alabama education system.

What concerns me the most is the same thing that concerned me when the decision was made for the vote to go to the people. Has everything been done for the education system that can possibly be done? And if the lottery does not pass, what will we do then. My guess is nothing because there is no plan B. So the education system and the children who are a part of it will continue to be substandard to the rest of the nation.

I guess that makes me substandard to the rest of the 27 year olds in the nation who received an education somewhere besides Alabama. But anyone would have a hard time proving that by me. I graduated from Smiths Station High School, a Lee County school, then graduated from Troy State University with a bachelor’s degree in print journalism and English. By telling me that Alabama schools are substandard it is like telling me that if I had attended schools in a more economically sound state I would be smarter.

When I graduated from high school I didn’t have the money to go to college. After the theater scholarship I earned ran out, my parents and I took out loans for me to attend Troy State. If there hadn’t been loans available, I would have found another way to go to college. The money is there, you just have to work a little to find it.

To me a quality education comes from this: Competent teachers and willing students. Even with the onset of computers and technology, one computer per student is not necessary for a student to know how to use one. I use a computer everyday of my life and was not trained on one in high school or each day in college. I learned how to use one when I was trained for my job and the rest I learned on my own.

What we need to focus on more than a lottery for education, more than more computers in classrooms, a prekindergarten program or a Hope scholarship is spending a couple of dollars on a book that begins – "See Dick run."

There are countless people in Alabama who can not read and cannot even write their name. And if there was any part of the lottery I would support, it would be a reading program for children and adults.

If the government thinks every person is entitled to a college education it has to realize that if a person cannot read or write they cannot fill out the application to get there. And if you happen to be thinking, if they can’t read and write they don’t need to be there, then you are not giving them a fair shake.

To me the lottery plan is a good idea, but one that has a lot of holes in it. From my mixed views that you have just read it is not my place to ask you to vote one way or another. But what I am taking upon my self t ask you is to simply vote. The amendments that will be before you on the Oct. 12 ballot are important for Alabama’s future.

The vote is one that requires two things, that you use your head and your heart when you make a decision.

Amy Lansdon is News Editor for The Messenger.