Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Legislators agree that higher ed more important than ever

Today, higher education leaders in the House and Senate gathered for a discussion about how, despite the state's economic woes, higher education can and must be used as a bridge to 21st century jobs.
Representative Deb Wallace, who chairs the House Higher Education Committee, emphasized repeatedly that we cannot turn back on our goal of educating more people to higher levels.

To this end, the House and Senate are proposing numerous measures that will help more students tap into financial aid, and support education and training programs that put people to work in high-demand, family wage jobs.
In addition to participating legislators, Rep. Phyllis Gutierrez Kenney introduced two students who spoke up about their personal ambitions of going to college and how aid programs have been the key to attaining that dream.
Roxana Garcia from the University of Washington spoke of growing up in a single-parent household amidst rising gang activity and negative influences. She said state grants were the key to her going to college and she encouraged lawmakers to preserve what she called an "investment in the lives of intelligent young adults, but more importantly, an investment in the future of Washington state."
Felicia Perl from the University of Puget Sound talked about the challenges of growing up in the foster care system and having to navigate a path to college without the support of family or parents. She also urged lawmakers to not seek short-term budget relief at the expense of devastating long-term effects.
You can read more about today's press event here.