*** YOUR DAILY DO’S – 4/7, MORNING EDITION *** Angela Teater
We’ve been talking about education all week, and I think we’d all agree that ensuring high-quality education for every citizen – from child to adult – is critical for a variety of reasons. In addition to the basics so important for functioning in society, a good education produces a society capable of innovation and critical thinking. Many of us feel like those values are threatened under the current Administration, so it’s even more crucial for us to work to uphold the value of an excellent education. Today we’re going to talk about two different – but valuable – levels of education and what we can do to make them more effective and more affordable.
1. We’re all familiar with the issues that some families face regarding food accessibility, and we all understand how difficult it is for a student to learn when his/her stomach is grumbling. That’s why it’s so vital that our schools continue to participate in the free and reduced lunch programs. However, this program provides two meals a day for eligible students, and only when school is in session. What are hungry students supposed to eat on weeknights or weekends? There is no miraculous solution to this heartbreaking problem once school ends for the day. Luckily, schools and independent organizations alike have recognized the depth of this problem and are stepping in to help solve it.
In the Lake Washington School District, the PTSAs are various schools participate in the Pantry Packs program, which operates through Hopelink. 650 students benefit from this program, and each of them receives a bag of food every Friday in order to ensure that they don’t go hungry on Saturdays and Sundays. This program operates using volunteer labor, and if you’d like to help, both Hopelink and Pantry Packs would appreciate your time. You can volunteer to put the packs together at Hopelink’s Kirkland warehouse. You can help organize a food drive to gather items for the Packs. You can send food items via the Pantry Packs Amazon wishlist. And of course any monetary donation is always appreciated. You can read more about opportunities to help here: http://tinyurl.com/k3pt4vv.
2. Now let’s talk about higher education. We’ve all heard the statistics about the greater career prospects and earnings for college graduates. But rising tuition rates are making college less accessible for lower- and middle-class students, and too many graduates are leaving school with crippling debt that inhibits their young adulthood.
As of 2014, 69% of graduate college seniors left school with student loan debt, an average of $28,950 per student. The numbers in Washington state aren’t much better: 58% of students graduated with debt, an average of $24,804. Luckily, our state legislature is making strides to protect the rights of borrowers in order to ensure that they fully understand their financial positions before they graduate.
Senate Bill 5022, which passed the state senate on March 1 and is now scheduled for a hearing in the House Higher Education Committee, aims improve transparency by letting students know how much they owe, when their loans will come due, and how much their payments will be. Senate Bill 5100 would require colleges to offer seminars regarding students’ college funding options. House Bill 1440 is a student loan bill of rights that defines standards for lenders and creates a position for an ombudsman to handle students’ complaints about their lenders. House Bill 1169 mandates the creation of a student loan hotline.
These are laudable attempts by our state legislature to improve the borrowing process for students and to ensure they know both their responsibilities and their rights when borrowing money to attend school. Please show your support for our representatives’ efforts by doing the following.
Read up on student debt and how it impacts students. This is an excellent starting point: http://tinyurl.com/mdo5x3c. Read more about the four bills in question here: http://app.leg.wa.gov/billinfo/.
If you support these efforts by the legislature, please call your local representatives and encourage them to back these bills. They will certainly appreciate a positive call or email.
3. Your Do’s team is taking a brief hiatus to regroup and plan our next steps. Rest assured, we will be back. In the meantime, we’d love more feedback from all of you. What sort of activism do you prefer? Do you like to call? Are you a marcher? Do you prefer to volunteer your time or give money? If you have feedback for us - good or bad - we want to hear it. We have so enjoyed providing you with concrete actions to help fight the Trump Administration, and are looking forward to continuing our vital work in the very near future.
Katie Anthony is a writer, one of the administrators of Pantsuit Washington, and heads the Daily Do's team.
Liz Bander - writer
Angela Teater- Writer