Pubdate: Tue, 26 Jul 2005
Source: Athens Banner-Herald (GA)
Copyright: 2005 Athens Newspapers Inc
Author: Kyle Wibby
Bookmark: (Higher Education Act)
Bookmark: (Youth)


Rep. John Barrow, D-Athens, missed a chance to save taxpayer dollars 
and help thousands of students regain their financial aid last week 
during the House discussion over H.R. 609, the bill to reauthorize 
the Higher Education Act. The U.S. House Committee on Education and 
the Workforce voted against an amendment to the College Access and 
Opportunity Act that would lift the financial aid ban for students 
with past drug convictions. Instead, Barrow and the committee 
supported a partial repeal that would still cause thousands of 
students to be ineligible for aid every year.

The HEA drug provision is a little-known federal law that denies 
financial aid to students with past drug convictions. It is 
ineffective and counterproductive to deny ex-offenders the 
opportunity of an education that would only help them turn their 
lives around. The Correctional Education Association has found that 
postsecondary education greatly reduces recidivism rates from a 60 
percent rate nationally, to a 10 percent rate for ex-offenders with 
at least two years of higher education.

Barrow missed an important opportunity to help decrease recidivism 
and to remove a difficult barrier for ex-offenders. Education should 
be accessible for those who are qualified and actively seek an 
opportunity to learn. Congress should not be sending the message you 
are unworthy of an education because of a poor choice made in the past.

Kyle Wibby

Coalition for HEA Reform

Washington, D.C.
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