Poor kids caught in red tape

Rules are rules. Bending them beyond some reasonable point risks creating chaos.

Somehow, giving poor kids a break despite the fact some adult filled in a federal form using the wrong typeface or with incorrect margins doesn’t seem like it would create a problem.

Some members of Congress are up in arms — and rightly so — over how the U.S. Department of Education handled a grant program intended to help students from poor families prepare for college.

It seems that under the Obama administration, the DOE adopted rules for how organizations and institutions of higher learning desiring to offer the Upward Bound program had to apply for federal grants. The 65-page applications have to be filled out using a certain kind of typeface, with specified margins and with double-spaced text.

Seventy-seven of the 1,592 applications received were rejected. Wrong typeface. Wrong margins. Space-and-a-half rather than double-spaced text.

Of course, applicants should have been paying more attention. But why could they not have been told to re-do the forms and re-submit them?

Because the bureaucracy has to make it clear who’s boss, of course.

Poor children, not the colleges and organizations that did the forms incorrectly, suffer from that kind of idiotic insistence on jumping through the hoops.

Here’s the saddest aspect of the fiasco: The bureaucrats responsible may well think they were doing the right thing. And they wonder why so many in the public are sick and tired of them.

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