There are two things you don't mess with in Louisiana. The TOPS program, and college football. In a speech on Thursday, Edwards threatened both of the. We'll talk about TOPS first.
TOPS, or the Taylor Opportunity Program for Students, covers tuition for in-state students who maintain a certain grade point average in high school, with a required curriculum. Students who want to take advantage of the program have to take certain courses and maintain their grades. It is a very popular program that by some estimates, helps about half the college students in public schools in Louisiana.
Of course, in a bid for new revenue, Edwards suspended the TOPS program.
"The Louisiana TOPS scholarship fund is now so depleted that, if the legislature does not raise revenue, fewer high school students will receive awards and current recipients are in jeopardy of losing their existing scholarships for next year. Even with additional revenue, higher education this year will need to cut $42 million. This will be combined with a $28 million cut in TOPS scholarship funds."PawPaw has a grandkid going to school on the TOPS program. The kid kept his grades up, got scholarships, applied for TOPS and was able to cobble together a scholarship program that lets him go to college. Now, Edwards has suspended that program. Some don't believe that he is able to do that unilaterally.
Jason Droddy, executive director of policy and external affairs for LSU, said Thursday afternoon that it was unclear what the outcome will be because “we’ve never been through this before.”
“We just don’t know a whole lot; I don’t know exactly how it will affect students,” he said. “TOPS is a contract between the state and a student. And we’re just the facilitators.”If that isn't injury enough, Edwards also insults us by threatening to make college athletes ineligible.
“The LSU main campus in Baton Rouge will run out of money after April 30,” he said. “There is no money left for payroll after those dates. The Southern University system and the University of Louisiana system are in the same boat. Without legislators approving new revenue this special session, some campuses will be forced to declare financial bankruptcy, which would include massive layoffs and the cancellation of classes. If you are student attending one of those universities, it means that you will receive a grade of incomplete.”What a grade of incomplete means to student athletes is t hat they'll become ineligible to play NCAA sports, like football (and basketball, and track, and etc).
If Edwards lets that happen, he won't survive (politically) his first term as governor. I am told that there are already recall petitions floating around. There are a lot of things you can do in Louisiana, but messing with TOPS and football are not those things. Edwards has ignited a shit-storm from which he may not recover.