New GOP target: Community college students

Putting the needs of private lenders above those of students:

AN ACT To provide that constituent Institutions of the North Carolina community College System may Opt Out of participation in the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program.

Participation in Federal Loan Programs. – All community colleges shall participate in the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program.Program, unless the board of trustees of an institution by resolution adopted declines to participate in the Program.

A little background from our friends at Firedoglake:

This was a simple battle of the working class against massive corporate interests where regular Americans finally came out the victors.

It stopped a completely wasteful program that had the government guarantee “private” loans. This had allowed several large businesses – including Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Wachovia – to make huge profits at the expense of the public.

Much of the money saved by ending this corporate welfare now is going to be re-purposed to fund Pell Grants that help low income students obtain higher education.

Republicans in the General Assembly aren't satisfied with merely undermining the public school system by getting rid of thousands of teachers, funneling money into new charter schools, and (coming soon) draining revenues to be used for private school vouchers. Now it's the students' turn to pay, by cutting off access to direct Federal student loans.

And in case you're wondering about potential conflicts of interest from trustees, these who oversee CPCC include a member of Wachovia's Advisory Board, two Wachovia executives, one Bank of America executive, and a former co-President of Wachovia Securities.


Kids with disabilities may never get in the Community Colleges

I support the letter that appears today in the N&O from the MHA in Charlotte and Cabarrus County, NC.

This was a decision by the Board of the Community Colleges that needs to be revisited and reconsidered. And this time around disability advocacy groups need to be involved in the policy-making process.

Martha Brock

Letter to the Editor of the Raleigh News and Observer

As mental health advocates, we find recent steps taken by the State Board of Community Colleges - to amend the long-standing open door admissions policy - very concerning. The amendment allows each of the state's 58 colleges to refuse admissions to individuals believed to present an articulable, imminent and significant threat to self or others. Each of the 58 colleges will be responsible for defining the terms used in the amended policy.

As written, the amendment is too broad and does not provide uniformity across the system. Such discretion leaves a great deal of room for a wide number of arbitrary, personal interpretations, which could potentially result in cases of unfair discrimination.

There is a fear that the newly amended policy has potentially serious implications in terms of discrimination. Individuals with a real or perceived mental illness may be subject to the unfair personal biases of individuals associated with the admissions process, resulting in discriminatory decisions to deny admissions.

The policy perpetuates the stigma associated with mental illness. With the new policy and its implications, how many will forgo treatment because it could ruin chances for completing a college degree?

Ellis C. Fields

Mental Health Association of Central Carolinas


Martha Brock