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    Proposed Federal Budget Cuts to Education Would Hurt Poorest Americans

    By Alex Randolph, City College Trustee

    There is not a lot to be happy about these days it seems. Lying has become acceptable. Outright falsehoods are justified as responses to “fake news.” Our President seems to be on a daily mission to leave no international leader, friend or foe, not insulted. His proposed budget cuts funding for arts, meal programs for kids and seniors, and practically ends diplomacy and international aid. The proposed budget also ignores the threat of climate change, while at the same time increases spending on the military and building a wall.

    Education is not faring any better. Just last month, our new Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos—barely in office—proclaimed in front of hundreds of Community College Trustees and leaders that community colleges are “…absolutely essential engines of workforce and economic development—locally and regional.” Likewise, Trump stressed during a business roundtable with German Chancellor Merkel that investing in vocational training and apprenticeship programs, which Community Colleges lead the way on, is essential to “getting America working again!”

    Sounds good, right? Sadly, by now we all know what comes out of the mouth of this Administration does not actually ever meet the reality on the ground. First, protections for transgender students to use the bathroom that matched their gender identity was reversed. (As Trump would say, “It’s a state issue!”) Second, according to The Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT), the President’s FY 2018 budget proposes a 14% cut to the Department of Education and a 21% cut to the Department of Labor.

    The results are a disastrous $3.9 billion raid of the Pell Grant Account and complete elimination of the Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (SEOG) program. Pell Grants are a critical subsidy from the federal government, based completely on financial need, for low-income students who need such grants to pay for college. SEOGs are grants that do not have to be repaid for undergraduate students with exceptional financial need. The cuts will impact the poorest Americans, over 380,000 community college students altogether.

    Most of these are first generation college students who would not be able to have access to higher education without vital financial support. I was one of those students. Financial aid allowed me to earn an Associate’s, Bachelor’s, and a Master’s Degree. It makes me sad to think what future potential doctors, lawyers, engineers, artists, teachers, and change-makers will be denied while attempting to achieve their goals. But I guess they can always go to Trump University, financed with “bigly” interest rates.

    With national politics generating ever-increasing levels of anxiety, we are blessed to be living in San Francisco and California. At least locally, the resistance and progressive values seem to be strong and getting stronger. A way to make a difference while having some fun is to join me on April 4 at Symphony Pride, a one-time event featuring six-time Tony Award-winner Audra McDonald.

    The event came about because San Francisco Symphony cancelled its performances in North Carolina in response to the discriminatory and anti-LGBT legislation. Instead, they will be performing here at home to benefit LGBT organizations like Larkin Street Youth Services, Transgender Law Center, The National Center for Lesbian Rights, and The Trevor Project. Tickets start at just $20: http://www.sfsymphony.org/symphonypride

    It will be a night to remember!

    Alex Randolph is a Trustee for City College of San Francisco. He previously served in President Obama’s administration and as an LGBT advisor for Mayor Newsom. He lives in the Castro with his partner Trevor. Follow him on social media: www.twitter.com/adrandolph & www.facebook.com/AlexDRandolph