TRIO programs across Ohio provide college access and success services to more than 22,000 secondary school students, adults, and veterans. Locally at Washington State Community College, the Educational Talent Search and Upward Bound programs serve 900 students throughout a four county area. These programs offer a proven pathway to high school graduation and post-secondary education, getting students through high school and into post-secondary education at a significantly higher rate than those who do not receive these special services.
Why then are successful programs like these being targeted for cuts at a time when our president and members of Congress continue to stress the importance of an educated America? Why are cuts being aimed at those successful programs so crucial to the advancement and economic/social success of our students?
With the increase of Americans returning to the classroom, including jobless adults and military veterans, this is a time to build up, not tear down, services to our most vulnerable students. We need to think about educating our nation in the same way we think about building and maintaining other critical infrastructure. If Americans do not get the education needed to help them achieve economic success and keep our economy strong, then we put our entire country at risk.
I am a realist. I understand the realities of our elected officials satisfying a political constituency. I also understand that money alone cannot fix all of the educational and economic problems facing us today. But it seems to me that the severity of the problem transcends politics and a single constituency or political party. We need to understand that when we take away services from a vulnerable group, we are diminished as a country and a culture. Opportunities are diminished and the gaping hole widens between the educational have and have nots.
We are capable of building a solid infrastructure that will provide a bright future for all Americans. But our leaders must take action and consider the long-term cost of neglecting to spend the money where it really counts - on the education of our young people.
Stop the cuts to TRIO and to all programs offering a hand-up, not a hand-out.
Gary l. Williams is the Director of Outreach at Washington State Community College in Marietta, Ohio