Bush's 'No Child Left Behind' plan could cost WSU millions

2:28:54 PM CDT - Friday, March 11, 2005

By Amy Geiszler-Jones

WSU students Elisabeth Bradshaw and Solomon Adair are planning to graduate in December, an accomplishment none of their parents achieved.

The fact that they both are in college, they say, is a testament to WSU's Talent Search program, which has been offering tutoring and academic counseling and encouragement to middle and high school students for nearly four decades at WSU.

That's why Bradshaw finds President Bush's decision to eliminate Talent Search, along with three other programs at WSU that help students whose parents didn't go to college, "ludicrous."

"I don't know why they want to cut something that would help someone get an education," she said. "I feel (the program) helped me a lot and I feel others should have that opportunity."

To fund a new high school initiative of his No Child Left Behind program, Bush has proposed cutting a number of Department of Education programs, including Upward Bound, Upward Bound-Math/Science, GEAR-UP and Talent Search, which are all offered through WSU.

WSU would lose about $3.7 million in federal funds for those four pro¬grams, which are part of TRIO programs. WSU's seven TRIO programs and GEAR-UP help low-income, first-generation or disabled students get to and stay in college.

While the loss of funding is significant, it's the loss of an opportunity for education for thousands of students that troubles many of the WSU administrators involved with those programs, they said in interviews.

"It's hard to pull people out of poverty," said Deltha Colvin, who as assistant vice president for student affairs oversees WSU's TRIO programs. "One of the things we emphasize to break that cycle is an education."

The TRIO programs on Bush's list are ones that serve the largest number of students, Colvin said.
"It truly guts our programs," said Colvin, herself a product of Upward Bound in the mid-1960s.
GEAR-UP, a program that helps foster kids who often lack family encouragement to go to college, involves 3,500 students statewide.

Talent Search serves 1,500 students in south-central and southeast Kansas, and the two Upward Bound programs serve more than 100 students.

While each program targets different age groups, from middle school to high school, all provide tutoring, college preparation and help students find ways to get into and finance college. Summer courses are also offered through the programs.

The Department of Education said in a release about the cuts, "President Bush's 2006 budget frees up nearly $4.3 billion in savings by changing or eliminating dozens of wasteful, du¬plicative or ineffective programs."

Calling these programs ineffective isn't right, Colvin said. "When the White House says it's not effective, we've got the stats and students to show differently."

She'll be armed with those stats when she and several of her staff visit Kansas' Congressional delegation in Washington, D.C., later this month.

She visits with the delegation every year, but this time she'll have additional support information, Colvin said. Congress is responsible for approving Bush's budget.

When Bradshaw, who is majoring in criminal justice and minoring in sociology and Spanish, got involved in Talent Search as a middle school student, she wasn't even considering college. While teachers at her school talked about being prepared for college, no one, except the Talent Search folks, showed her what she needed to do and how to prepare, she said.

TRIO programs targeting pre-college kids are not only educational programs but programs that help prevent detrimental behavior like drugs and gangs, said two Talent Search staff members.
"Education is the best crime prevention program you can have," said Reuben Eckels, Talent Search's middle school coordinator. "We are always pushing an education."

"Those programs keep you focused on college in your adolescent years, when you're not really thinking about those kinds of things," agreed Adair, who is majoring in business.

"We take a personal interest in every student we serve, and that to me is leaving no child behind," said Larry Ramos, Talent Search director.

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