For more information on Southern's ADA Compliance efforts, please visit our Accessibility Page

Log Cabin Democrat. Nov. 17, 2010.


When we first heard of the El Dorado Promise, a scholarship program founded by Murphy Oil Company that pays tuition and mandatory fees to Arkansas two- and four-year colleges for El Dorado High School graduates who meet qualifications, we knew it was going to be a substantial influence on the students it helps.

Now, a few years later, Murphy Oil is still sticking to its promise, and the statistics gathered in just three short years are astounding. What was once a deteriorating community is now a thriving, bustling atmosphere where parents from all over the country, and a few from other countries, are beating down the school districts doors for a chance to get their students enrolled in El Dorado schools.

According to the Promise’s website, since the programs foundation, EDHS’s graduates attending college rate has increased from about 60 percent to 81 percent.

Now, there’s another promise. From another community. And it has all the makings to be another El Dorado Promise.

It’s the Arkadelphia Promise Scholarship. And it has the same goal as the El Dorado Promise: sending graduates to college because it’s what’s best for the community and local economy.

With the support of the Ross Foundation and Southern Bancorp, the Arkadelphia Promise will offset the difference between what the Arkansas Academic Challenge Scholarship (the lottery scholarship) covers and the total amount of mandatory tuition and fees at any accredited public Arkansas college or university.

Arkadelphia, hang on. It’s going to be an exciting ride.

Students ought to take this opportunity seriously and take advantage of a program that will benefit them not only through their college years but for the rest of their lives.

In case you haven’t looked into it, college tuition is ridiculously expensive. What used to be deemed a public benefit is now treated as a personal one. Couple that with out-of-control tuition and fee increases at public colleges and universities, and it’s becoming increasingly more difficult for a high school graduate to attend school after high school.

Now, it’s important to note that the Arkadelphia Promise isn’t as gracious as the El Dorado Promise. In El Dorado, any student who has lived in the district and attended the school long enough receives a scholarship, regardless of grades. …

It’s easy to make a promise. It’s much harder to keep it. Murphy Oil has kept its promise. And we have every reason to believe the Ross Foundation and Southern Bancorp will keep theirs.

So, which Arkansas town or county is next?

Other big businesses in Arkansas should follow Murphy Oil’s and the Ross Foundation’s and Southern Bancorp’s lead.

Our kids are our future. And the best way to create an educated work force in technologically demanding fields is to keep them here in Arkansas. Such promises aim to do just that.