The education lottery is back again

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 26, 2002

The education lottery is once again one of the platforms for Gov. Don Siegelman's race for re-election. Four years ago, Alabamians said no' to the lottery for various reasons and honestly, I don't think it'll pass this time around.

But, before making a decision on whether to vote yes or no, the option, I think, is one worth exploring.

Many people look at the lottery as gambling

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throwing money away on a prize that there is very little chance of winning. In some ways, this is a viable reason to vote no.

But, what if 100 percent of the funds went to the Education Trust Fund? What if this money was used to put computers in classrooms, give the library books or keep extracurricular activities such as football and band?

Would we still be throwing money away?

Sen. Wendell Mitchell recently wrote in his column for The Greenville Advocate that while traveling through Florida, he saw several billboards for help for those who have a gambling problem. I thought about that point, but the question we should remember is has the need for such gambling addiction programs risen? Was gambling even considered before the lottery as a problem in the State of Florida? It very well could have been but was it recognized before?

Of course with the creation of anything, there always will be pros and cons. It could be that the number of people in Florida with a gambling problem has not risen, but because there is more opportunity for residents to have a problem, the State of Florida has advertised these types of programs more.

In essence, however, they are letting residents of the state know that if a problem does occur, then there is a place for habitual gamblers to go.

I don't know if I personally would vote for an education lottery. In so many ways, it could be such a benefit to school children in Alabama, but are the consequences worth it?

I think the only way that I could vote for a lottery is if 100 percent of the funds were put toward education. But, then, an additional problem arises

who is going to be a watchdog for the fund to ensure that all profits are safely deposited into the education trust fund?

For me personally, this is the biggest question that exists. In some ways, I can see how people in Alabama may see it as gambling, but I'd much rather gamble on education than have the children of Alabama suffer from bad financial management.