Posted by McNair Scholars Program on Thursday, April 28, 2011 22:19 - 0 Comments
On the evening of Friday, April 8, 2011, President Barack Obama emerged from several hours of intense negotiations with congressional leadership and announced that the government would not shut down as feared, for a compromise had been achieved. Months earlier, President Obama and Senate Democrats rejected plans by House Republicans to enact massive cuts to education through the bill H.R. 1. This bill would have included a $24.9 million cut to TRIO and $19.8 million cut to GEAR UP along with several other programs important to low-income communities. Speaking of the newly achieved compromise legislation, President Obama declared that “Americans of different beliefs [had come] together” and “acted on behalf of our children’s future.” However, once the details of this bill emerged, it became clear that the children for whom the government had acted were not those who stand most in the need of assistance.
Congress approved of the new compromise bill, H.R. 1473, the Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act of 2011, on April 14, 2011. The President signed the legislation into law shortly thereafter. This bill went even further than the much maligned H.R. 1 in that it proposed to cut TRIO by a full $26.6 million. Meanwhile, GEAR UP received a $20.4 million cut. All told, this legislation will result in the loss of approximately 150,000 TRIO and GEAR UP students. Ultimately, a total of 215,000 low-income, potential first-generation students would have lost the opportunity participate in TRIO programs during both the Bush and Obama Administrations.
H.R. 1473 put forth several other cuts to programs important to low-income students and families. Included among such reductions is a $21.5 million cut to Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants and the elimination of several literacy programs(Striving Readers, Even Start, and Literacy through School Libraries). Despite the fact that the White House issued a veto threat over H.R. 1 and the Democrat-controlled Senate defeated this bill, the President and leaders within both branches of Congress hailed H.R. 1473 as a victory. However, activists who represent low-income populations uniformly rejected this legislation. In a public statement, COE President Arnold Mitchem noted that while “Americans define the American dream as the opportunity for their children to achieve mobility,” according to the Pew Foundation, “the United States provides less social mobility than many of its peer countries, including Germany and Canada.” Indeed, now that H.R. 1473 is the law of the land, this negative trend will only continue.