Sunday, July 23, 2006

Back from the War (on Poverty)

For six weeks every summer, a federal Department of Education program, Upward Bound, provides a residential "practice college" for area high school students. During the six weeks, students take math, science, English and foreign language classes; hear lectures by university professors and learn how to do well in a college lecture class; get study help from residential college-student staff; experience life away from home, and learn to live with a roommate and share a bathroom with 20 or so others.

There's an academic year component, too, including weekly tutoring, monthly workshops on careers, college preparation, community service, current issues and more; college visits and leadership training.

Statistics continue to show that even high achieving high school students go to and graduate from college at a lower rate if they are from low-income homes or homes where they might be the first in their immediate family to go to college. UB changes that statistic.

But the Bush administration hates UB.

For the past three years, Bush has zeroed out funding for Upward Bound. Only the program's success and strong efforts by its graduates and current students, staff, families and others who know the benefits have helped it find a place back in the budget.

Now, the appointees at the Department of Education are working to strangle UB from the inside out by changing the rules about who can enter Upward Bound. A fight is coming.

The War on Poverty continues. And warriors are still fighting.

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