Saturday, February 26, 2005

Upward Bound faces elimination

The president who signed the No Child Left Behind Act, once again, is cutting the goals of that legislation at its knees! His recently proposed budget would eliminate Upward Bound and a slew of other programs that help at-risk, low income youths. In RI, 150 students from grades 9-12 attend the Upward Bound program. 2/3rds of those come from families with income levels 150 percent of the poverty level or below AND where neither parent graduated from college. The other third come from families who meet one of the two criteria. These are students who are traiblazers in their families and communities. Without this program many of these students would be locked out from attending college and universities because of the schools they attend (read: Central, Hope, Mount, among others) and poor academic reputation those schools have. A friend of mine, a Mount Pleasant Graduate, who is a 2004 graduate of URI (graduated with a 3.0 in fact) did poorly on her SAT's. However, she attended the Upward Bound program which helped her gain acceptance to the Talent Development program at URI where she enjoyed a successful college career. Had Upward Bound not been available to her, most certainly the doors that opened to her would have been locked. And that's what this program is all about; opening doors for our children. But, President Bush has apparently lost sight of how special and effective programs like Upward Bound are for the inner city student. And so, he has gone too far. At a time when we are being asked to support a war in Iraq with money and sweat equity, he intros these types of cuts?!?! In the past, I have tried to defend this president's actions. He wasn't lying-he was misinformed. He didn't know that there was torture really going on-just utilization of special post 9/11 tactics. And on and on and on. But, I refuse to come to the president's aid on this one. Simply put, as citizens and parents it is our duty to draw a line in the sand and tell President Bush that we WILL NOT cut off our children's future because you thought it was the right thing to do to invade Iraq. We WILL NOT sit idly by as another generation's hopes are dashed because of your desire to reduce a budget deficit that YOU created. We WILL NOT allow a nearly 40 year program to be quietly cut at your latest whim. Instead, we WILL fight tooth and nail to ensure opportunities come to our cities and to our children. If that means a protracted political war, so be it. Your 'education first' rhetoric has more than worn thin and it's now time to back up the No Child Left Behind laws and stop cutting programs such as Upward Bound. Today, I am saddened by Bush's budget cuts, and hope that when people like us start talking-he'll reconsider his position. So here's what we do to stop this injustice folks... The Director of the Upward Bound Program at Rhode Island College, Miriam Boyajian, has requested that we send letters to our local officials denouncing these cuts. Click on the names below to send your letters via e-mail. Senator Jack Reed Senator Lincoln Chafee Representative Patrick Kennedy Representative James Langevin Governor Donald Carcieri


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