What is Washboard Express?

Washboard Express is a way for me to express my own opinions, to be a provocative gadfly, by writing a "letter a day" to the President. I may miss a day here and there, because sometimes my family with be my first priority, but my goal is to write a total of 365 letters, representing one full year. To say I have opinions about most things would be to understate the obvious. Those of you that know me, know this is true, those who don't know me, will learn that it's true. The Washboard is a reference to going back to basics and "keeping it clean," so if you would like me to post your comments or opinions on this blog, I only ask that you be respectful. So go ahead, express yourself, and I look forward to an exchange of ideas and opinions.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Day 69...Dear Mr. President... Helping the "least among us"

Day 69

Dear Mr. President,

As you wrestle with the Republican Party, Raising the Debt Ceiling, the Budget and other things of National importance, I tend to notice the little things going on around me or in the local news.

Recently the statistics on homeless students was released by school districts, which use the federal guidelines to identify children who are in “unstable households” or to be more precise “homeless situations.” A sub-headline read: Schools count students lacking a ‘fixed’ residence. No matter how you slice it or try to make it politically palatable by calling them ‘unstable households’ or ‘lacking a fixed residence,’ the bottom line is they are “homeless.”

Even though we are halfway through 2011 and the statistics are probably much greater now, these stats were from 2009. In Sacramento County the number of homeless kids enrolled in K-12 grades was 7,254. In addition there were 1,549 homeless infants, toddlers and preschool kids, for a total of 8,803, and that’s just Sacramento County. Now imagine how that number grows using stats from all across the U.S…. a staggering statistic that I’m sure you know much better than me. Is this our America Mr. President?

On the other end of the spectrum California’s higher education system is in fiscal crisis. While the CA Legislature is cutting higher education (the latest round cut $650 million to the UC system), to help balance the budget, the tuition has tripled over the last decade. To add insult to injury, the CSU Trustees raised the tuition for its 23 campuses 12 percent, while at the same time they gave the new President of San Diego S.U. a whopping $400,000 salary per year - $100,000 more than his predecessor and more than any other campus president and more than any other CSU employee made last year.

The point of this Mr. President is that the super rich continue to be rewarded with greater riches, while struggling school districts, hard working families, and students continue to take the brunt of increased fees and increased tuition. Is this how we take care of our children? Is this how we’re going to educate the next generation, by putting the burden on the very people that are often the ones that have lost their jobs and their homes?

I’m not what you’d call a religious person, in fact, I haven’t been to church (except for weddings or funerals) in over 25 years. But one doesn’t need to be religious or sit in church just to appear to be a good Christian, to know that what’s going on in America is just plain wrong. I’m reminded of the story that Jesus told about a king who commends his subjects because they helped him when he was hungry, thirsty, without clothes, in prison or sick. The subjects professed ignorance of doing these things. The king replied that when they had helped the “least among you,” that is, those in need, they had ‘met’ him.

This is the way that Jesus connected himself with human experience. Where is our humanity today Mr. President, that we allow children to become homeless statistics and we price young people out of a college education? So while you’re dealing with the budget crisis, please consider helping the “least among us” and raise the taxes on millionaires, billionaires and corporations.

Most Respectfully,

Marcia Reimers, 
Your Gadfly Granny

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