Today at 4:30 at the Georgia capitol elementary, middle, high school, college students, and supporters gathered to demand that Georgia legislates reject HB 326 and keep the HOPE scholarship fully funded.
Keira Bruce, Kristen Barnard, Deborah Ault, Dejah Ault, Dumali Ault, Jamelia Willis, and Marc Pongnon all gave passionate beautiful speeches.
Sadly though, as amazing as each of their speeches were, if Governor Deal's HOPE cuts go through everyone of them will be priced out of an education.
Under HB 326 once a student loses HOPE, they can never get it back. No matter how well a student does once they less HOPE they lose it forever. HB 326 also takes effect immediately. Current students will have the rug pulled out from under them.
The new SAT requirements ensure that low income folk, especially people of color, will have much less access to hope. The SAT test is proven to be culturally biased. We also know that high income families can afford expensive SAT classes that regular working families cannot. Demanding a 1200 SAT course to qualify for HOPE will guarantee that those who need HOPE the most will have the hardest time getting it.
· HB 326 will price out low income folks. No question about it. The change in book fees alone will price out anyone that struggles to keep food on the table and electricity in the house. It would seem that this bill, by design, disenfranchises low income folks, especially people of color.
· We are not fooled; HB 326 DOES NOT save hope. HB 326 dismantles HOPE. We keep hearing folks say that 90% of hope will be available to students with a 3.0 or above. Not true. Nathan Deal himself admitted that that number is likely closer to 80% and that as soon as next year it could go down to 60%. The HOPE scholarship is certainly savable, the question is whether or not Georgia legislators are willing to make it a priority or not.
· The Hope scholarship is wildly popular. We will be paying attention to who’s voting to dismantle it. We hope our elected officials remember who they’re here to represent. There will be another election
After the press conference a candlelight vigil to save HOPE began on the steps of the Capitol. Coffins and tombstones lay around the steps of the capitol, many of the tombstones were being held by students who may soon by priced out of the education they've been promised for years; a promise Nathan Deal aims to break.
Some of the Press Coverage:
Photo's by Pastiche Lumumba and Josie Figueroa
American Friends Service Committee