Sixty-five years ago, Joseph Welch, serving as legal counsel for the U.S. Army in the televised Joseph R. McCarthy hearings, asked a question that may have changed history when he asked of the Wisconsin Republican senator, “Have you no sense of decency?” That same question should be directed today to four current senators.
The April 7 letter from Sens. Elizabeth Warren, Dick Durbin, Sherrod Brown and Richard Blumenthal sets a new low in ideological and partisan politics in America.
In the midst of a national emergency and global coronavirus pandemic the nation is on lockdown, with 100 percent of our college students either enlisted in e-learning from home, or left without the resources to learn at all.
Yet these senators, seemingly consumed with ideological disdain of our nation’s postsecondary career colleges, continue their assault.
In their umpteenth letter to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, they boldly ask that she deny our nation’s “proprietary” schools’ participation in the Emergency Relief Fund created under the CARES Act.
To understand the depths of such an action, we can look to data from The College Board that was released the same day the senators delivered their letter to DeVos.
The study indicates that the approximately 6.8 million students from low-income households forced to leave college campuses are unlikely to return — ever. Today, an astounding 80 percent of all students enrolled in career colleges are eligible for federal financial aid.
No other sector of higher education serves a larger percent of these low-income students than our nation’s career colleges.
Congress deserves great credit for recognizing the importance of helping America’s students who are affected by this national emergency. More than $14 billion has been appropriated to cover coronavirus-related costs for all higher education.
In such grants, the language states: “Institutions of higher education shall use no less than 50 percent of such funds to provide emergency financial aid grants to students for expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to coronavirus (including eligible expenses under a student’s cost of attendance, such as food, housing, course materials, technology, health care, and child care.”
A higher number of student dropouts will have large implications for our country. Not only will there be an emotional toll for those who fail to get the degree they’ve toiled toward, but our nation is now preparing for projections of 20 percent to 30 percent unemployment before the crisis is over.
It should be “all hands on deck” for every college and university in the nation — licensed, accredited and eligible for participation in federal financial aid programs.
Our schools are already preparing for the day America goes back to work, and identifying which occupational skills will be most in demand.
Every career school will be directed with the best administrative practices accordingly, with funds dispersed to help our community of schools and students to recover from these trying times.
In our continued commitment to total transparency for all programs in all schools, we pledge to share our careful use of the taxpayer’s investment in continuing our students’ education.
If there ever is a time when the polarized politics of present day must be set aside, this is it.
Together, we can do this. This has become the global theme as we navigate this pandemic. We will do our part, and we ask that Sens. Warren, Durbin, Brown and Blumenthal set their ideological war on the shelf for a few months while we work together to rebuild our nation.
To do anything less is to repeat the famous question of the ugly McCarthy hearings, when Welch asked, “Have you no sense of decency?”