Education opener is pitiful

To the editor:

Of all the life goals people scrimp for, making hard choices about spending and saving, one of the biggest and most cherished is often the college fund. Not everyone needs a college degree, but everyone can agree that a young person who wants one should have the chance to earn one.

Societies show how much we value education by backing up our praise with real money. President Trump’s budget, submitted earlier this year to Congress, makes it clear education isn’t so important to him. The president’s budget is always a negotiation with Congress, but Trump’s opening bid is pitiful: $9 billion cut from Department of Education programs that ease student loans for students still in school, provide work-study jobs for students earning their way through college and forgive student loans for graduates who dedicate their hard-earned skills to charitable service.

Many of Trump’s cuts would hurt right here in Houghton. I work at Michigan Tech, where we constantly feel tension between our mission to educate Michigan students affordably and the lure of out-of-state students paying higher tuition. Faculty like me can support graduate students other research activities if we can wrangle grants from the National Science Foundation — a competitive process in the best of times, made all the harder when $776 million is cut from NSF funding.

Students who go a different direction from college will feel the pinch of a 15 percent reduction in funding for career technical education. Our local school districts support the ISD’s proposed CTE millage because they believe in giving students skills for good, steady jobs. Meanwhile, Trump is showing how much he cares about that. It’s clear his values have nothing to do with a young person’s prospects around here.

Education funding is not the only area axed in the president’s budget, but it’s the one most tied to opportunity. If Congress doesn’t reject the president’s miserly support of our basic responsibilities, we’ll have to step up. First, call Rep. Jack Bergman and let him know we expect education to be funded, generously. Second, turn out this August to support the CTE millage in the Copper Country (because if they won’t, we’ll have to do it ourselves). Last but never least, next election, cast your ballot for politicians willing to keep our school systems funded and college affordable for everyone who wants it. Our economy and our country can’t take anything less.

William Keith