Cecil Staton believes Atlanta students work harder than Macon students

State Senator Cecil Staton, a Macon lawmaker, took an unusual position when he argued against fixing the broken HOPE Scholarship.

Staton stood in the well of the senate chamber to emphatically argue that the HOPE Scholarship and the new Zell Miller Scholarship are provided to the state’s best and brightest students — and for those students who work hardest to earn the scholarships.

The problem for Staton is that an investigation conducted by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution shows that most of Georgia’s “hard-working students” are from metro Atlanta.

Georgia’s newest public scholarship was intended to benefit all of the state’s best and brightest college-bound students. At least that was the plan when Gov. Nathan Deal created the Zell Miller Scholarship last year.

Instead, it favors those students who live in Atlanta’s affluent suburbs.

It turns out that schools in the six biggest and richest metro Atlanta counties — Cobb, DeKalb, Fayette, Fulton, Gwinnett and Forsyth — graduated more than half of the students eligible for the Zell Miller award. These six counties account for just one-third of the state’s high school seniors.

Staton easily explains this imbalance by saying the Zell Miller award is given to the state’s hardest working students. He implies that the only reason a student wouldn’t receive a scholarship is because he or she simply isn’t working hard enough.

Those lazy students are all outside of metro Atlanta, including in Staton’s home district around Macon.

It’s time for Staton to meet the bright students in his own hometown and to find ways to help them reach college.

It’s time for Georgia to fix the broken HOPE Scholarship. In addition to being on a direct path to bankruptcy, it’s unfairly awarded to students in just a handful of wealthy counties.

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