There are two kinds of political activists: those who dedicate their time to a worthy political cause, and those who are absolutely awesome at it. One of those people who are absolutely awesome at advocating for a worthy political cause is Sara Goldrick-Rab, a professor at Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and the author of the book Paying the Price: College Costs, Financial Aid, and the Betrayal of the American Dream.
Goldrick-Rab is not just a professor and an author about the high cost of higher education in this country. She’s also a staunch advocate for ideas to make higher education affordable in America, and, for her advocacy, she’s earned a spot in this year’s POLITICO 50, a list of more than 50 of the most politically influential people and institutions in America published by POLITICO Magazine. Here’s what POLITICO Magazine wrote about Goldrick-Rab’s work:
Clinton’s plan, however, was neither the highest-profile nor most radical. It was Bernie Sanders who campaigned on the issue most vocally during the primaries, pushing not just debt-free college but universal free tuition for public higher education. That idea has roots in the work of Sara Goldrick-Rab, a professor of higher education policy and sociology at Temple University. In 2014, Goldrick-Rab proposed a “free two-year college option” that would cover tuition at public universities, as well as some living expenses. The plan drew on her study of more than 3,000 students receiving federal aid and Pell Grants in Wisconsin, which revealed that those students were still crippled by living costs.
I’ve never met Sara Goldrick-Rab in person, but, as someone who is an online friend of Goldrick-Rab (I follow her on Twitter), she is an absolutely awesome person who truly cares about . I’m proud of her.
You can view Goldrick-Rab’s website here and view her Twitter page here.
Earlier this month, Glamour magazine posted an article to their website about a subject that, while most people wouldn’t find to be exactly glamorous, is a very serious issue facing our country: homelessness in higher education. You’d have to read the entire article, which you can view here, to truly understand how serious of an issue homelessness in higher education is.
The article is about Brooke Evans, a formerly homeless student at University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW-Madison) who helped start a food pantry for students at UW-Madison. In addition to her efforts to start a food pantry for her fellow students, Evans has advocated for, among other things, requiring college and university cafeterias to accept food stamps and offering free mailboxes to students at her university who don’t have a postal address. Evans has gone above and beyond in her efforts to advocate for improving the lives of college and university students in America.
Evans isn’t the only college student in this country who has been homeless while in college. In fact, federal statistics has shown that over 59,000 applicants for federal student aid last year reported being homeless, and homelessness among college students in America is on the rise. There are a perfect storm of circumstances contributing to an increase in college homelessness, most notably that an increasing number of students from low-income households are attending college, that a college or university education of some kind is needed for virtually every good-paying job in the United States nowadays, and, most importantly, that tuition and other college-related expenses have risen dramatically in recent decades.
I admire Brooke Evans’s advocacy for homeless and poor college students. We really need a lot more people like her to stand up for our country’s most vulnerable and forgotten-about people.
With the possibility of Republicans winning control of both houses of Congress for the first time since the first two years of George W. Bush’s second term in the White House looming over the November 4 elections, I want to remind everybody how frightening Republicans winning control of the U.S. Senate and retaining control of the U.S. House is.
Should Republicans win control of the Senate and retain control of the House, Republicans will probably pass a sweeping, Wisconsin-style far-right agenda, including legislation like:
- Passing a nationwide right-to-work-for-less bill, allowing workers to benefit from collective bargaining agreements without paying union dues for collective bargaining (if not completely banning labor unions altogether)
- Passing restrictions on abortion, contraception, and other women’s health procedures, up to and including attempting to propose a federal constitutional amendment banning abortion, contraception, and many other women’s health procedures
- Repealing the federal Voting Rights Act, making it easier for states to implement voter suppression schemes
- Repealing the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964, allowing many forms of racial discrimination
- Eliminating Pell grants and other programs that help people pay for college, making it harder for young people to go to college
- Completely repealing the Affordable Care Act, taking away health insurance from millions of Americans who were recently uninsured
- Eliminating regulations on banks and other financial institutions, making it easier for them to engage in risky practices that were the primary cause of the Great Recession
- Allowing mining and drilling in National Parks and other federally-protected lands, destroying the value of our country’s natural wonders and hurting the tourism industry
- Handing out tax cuts and other tax breaks to wealthy people, corporations, and other special interests, resulting in a bigger federal budget deficit and national debt (if not implementing a full-blown regressive taxation scheme by completely repealing the federal income tax and replacing it with a federal sales tax, shifting the tax burden to poor, working-class, and middle-class Americans)
- Completely repealing Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and other social safety net programs, leaving millions of seniors without a source of income and leaving millions of Americans without health insurance
- Eliminating all federal campaign finance restrictions, making it even easier for wealthy people, corporations, and other special interests to buy federal elections and have an even bigger undue influence over federal politicians
- Repealing the federal minimum wage, putting millions of working Americans into poverty and driving millions more into even deeper poverty
- Eliminate the Environmental Protection Agency and federal environmental regulations, allowing corporations to pollute the air we breathe and the water we drink
- Repealing federal laws mandating equal pay for equal work, allowing employers to discriminate against women by paying men more than women
Sadly, that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the right-wing legislation that a fully Republican-controlled Congress could pass. Don’t think for one second that people like Pat Toomey, Mark Kirk, Kelly Ayotte, and Susan Collins would oppose some or most of the far-right agenda just because they represent states/constituencies that usually vote for Democratic presidential candidates. The Ted Cruz-types in the Republican Party are going to demand that they pass as much far-right legislation as possible, and the so-called “moderates” in the GOP would go along with them every time and rubber stamp everything they do.
Should Republicans win control of the Senate, they will be hell bent on turning America into a third-world country. The only thing that would stop them from doing is President Barack Obama, who would likely veto nearly everything the Republicans pass. If you don’t want Republicans passing a destructive far-right agenda, go vote against the Republican bastards on November 4.