Pubdate: Sat, 20 Apr 2002
Source: Tribune Review (PA)
Copyright: 2002 Tribune-Review Publishing Co.
Author: Robert Merkin
Bookmark: (Higher Education Act)


Your April 14 editorial "One lousy message" reaches its vengeful, 
youth-bashing conclusion based largely on the many things it doesn't mention.

The law in question, a provision of the federal Higher Education Act, was 
tacked onto a massive bill and rammed through Congress by its author, 
Republican Rep. Mark Souder of Indiana, without committee hearings or any 
public testimony.

All the victims - about 40,000 would-be college students so far - are poor. 
Kids from well-to-do families don't need federal financial aid that is 
denied by a drug conviction.

A shamefully disproportionate number of the victims are African-American 
and Hispanic. You are praising a law which, each year of its existence, has 
systematically sought out and penalized the nonwhite and the poor - an 
American law that glories in racism.

Regardless of your feelings about a teen-age misdemeanor marijuana arrest, 
each kid went through the criminal-justice system and settled up with it.

Souder's Law is an unending, lifelong "punishment after punishment" 
specifically targeting kids who, by trying to go to college, are trying to 
straighten up and make something of themselves.

Your editorial defends a law that makes it far more likely that these kids, 
locked out of the education door to the American dream, will drift into 
worse substance abuse and worse crime.

Robert Merkin

Northampton, Mass.
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