Republicans Are Trying To Kill The Program That Helped Me Escape Poverty, and They've Hurt the White Working Class To Do It
You have probably heard of Head Start, the anti-poverty program for pre-schoolers? When children from poverty backgrounds show up at pre-school, they are estimated to have a 30-million word gap in what they have heard so far in their lives compared to wealthy children.
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Well, beyond pre-school, the government actually has some additional anti-poverty, educational opportunity programs. There are seven of them, and collectively they are called TRIO programs.
For a long time, people who work around government have known the kiss of death to an anti-poverty government program is to “target” it. This means you don’t start giving Social Security only to poor people, because if you do that, the public will be shouting for Social Security to end. Consider the popularity of welfare.
TRIO Programs have enjoyed long-term, bi-partisan support. What’s not to like? It is poor people pulling themselves out of poverty through higher education. But the extreme conservatives elected since 2010 decided this program that should really be expanded — they only serve 7% of eligible students — was going to be cut.
After slashing TRIO’s budget, it came time to decide which TRIO programs would be cut. It was decided that rural programs would go. For example, Iowa had something like 12 Upward Bound programs. They shut down 10 of them.
With fewer resources, of course, the Republicans said the TRIO programs should be targeted. Only offered to the most needy in urban settings. All of the U.S. Representatives who used to vote for funding for TRIO because their rural constituents called them to lobby for the program no longer have a reason to support it. His/her voters don’t get the services, so why should they support TRIO?
TRIO has helped millions of people, at least a third of them rural, working class voters. But Republicans killed their anti-poverty program as a means to end its life altogether. I would never have escaped poverty without TRIO. Now, I fear they’re pulling up the ladder behind me.