Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Connecting the Dots

Yesterday, I commented on a Bob Herbert column in which Herbert wrote about the growing gap between the wealthiest and poorest in U.S. society, and how this trend is putting economic mobility increasingly out of reach for ordinary Americans. Today, via a post on Suburban Guerrilla, I came across an article at DelawareOnline.com that demonstrates how Pres. Bush is trying to cut off one of the most effective tools for increasing income: education -- and, in particular, adult education.

The Bush administration has proposed slashing state grants for adult education programs from $569 million this year to $207 million in 2006 -- a reduction of about 64 percent. The cutback is part of a proposal to reduce the discretionary education budget next year by 1 percent, or $500 million.

In human terms, this means that millions of Americans who dropped out of high school will not be able to correct that mistake and turn their lives around. People like Eva Dobies, who just graduated from high school near the top of her class after having quit school twice: once in 9th grade and once in 10th.

It's very fashionable now in neoconservative circles to say that poverty, low income, and other social problems are the result of individuals making "poor life choices." But what happened to the time-honored American tradition known as "the second chance"? The idea that personal destiny is not cast in stone; and that mistakes and bad luck can be overcome in a country that allows people to reinvent themselves, is at the heart of the American dream. And it's not as if George W. Bush and the entire Bush family haven't made mistakes. The key to the second chance, though, is money and family connections. If you have those, you will get your second chance, and third chance, and fourth chance -- as many as you need. If you don't, you'll just have to be perfect.

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