Support Equitable Access to Education

500 Women Scientists Philly Pod
3 min readAug 28, 2020

The 500 Women Scientists Philly Pod went to Harrisburg, PA on November 18, 2019, and lobbied for a number of important issues. These one-pagers were given to our representatives outlining our recommendations.

Cahalan, et al., 2018 [2]

Education is a strong predictor of a better quality of life.[1] It is essential for sustainable development, increasing the country’s economic growth, and decreasing poverty. All children in the United States deserve access to institutions of higher learning and the support necessary to navigate the complex processes involved in obtaining a higher education. However, focusing on efforts that simply provide access is not enough. We must ensure that these efforts are equitable and address any socio-economic imbalances.
The estimated bachelor’s degree attainment rates by age 24 are 5 times higher for individuals that come from families in the highest income quartiles than for those in the lowest (58% vs 11%).[2] The majority of these students use some government financial aid to help pay for the cost of education.[5] However, the types of loans students take out and the amount of debt they incur varies by race.[3,4]

We support legislation that makes education accessible to everyone and assists those who are drowning in student debt. We also support legislation that focuses on making the STEM fields more inclusive at all levels, from grade school to graduate school.

Co-sponsor Pennsylvania H.B. 961 Fair Public School Funding
Equitable access to free, engaging education is necessary to make sure every child is prepared for trade school and/or higher education. The disparity in public school funding is one of the most common ways this country underserves its minority populations. Fully funding all public schools will give teachers and students the resources they need to succeed.

Our recommendations:
✳ Co-sponsor H.B.961 (PA House) or introduce a companion Senate Bill.
✳ Support other policies that improve constituents’ access to education in our state.

Co-sponsor Pennsylvania S.B.435 Commonwealth Employee Student Loan Assistance
This legislation would allow Commonwealth employees who elect into the defined contribution program to reduce their 7.5 percent contribution by up to $100 per month if they make a monthly student loan payment. This is a way to support employees as they pay off their student loan debt.

Our recommendations:
✳ Co-sponsor S.B.435 (PA Senate) or introduce a similar bill in the PA House.
✳ Support raising the minimum wage and equal pay legislation to ensure people can afford their education.

References

  1. American Psychological Association Education and Socioeconomic Status Fact Sheet. https://www.apa.org/pi/ses/resources/publications/factsheet-education.pdf
  2. Cahalan, M., Perna, L. W., Yamashita, M., Wright, J. & Santillan, S (2018). 2018 Indicators of Higher Education Equity in the United States: Historical Trend Report. Washington, DC: The Pell Institute for the Study of Opportunity in Higher Education, Council for Opportunity in Education (COE), and Alliance for Higher Education and Democracy of the University of Pennsylvania (PennAHEAD). http://pellinstitute.org/downloads/publications-Indicators_of_Higher_Education_Equity_in_the_US_2018_Historical_Trend_Report.pdf
  3. Scott-Clayton, J. and Li, J. 2016. Black-white disparity in student loan debt more than triples after graduation. Economic Studies at Brookings. Evidence Speaks Reports, Vol 2, #3 https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/es_20161020_scott-clayton_evidence_speaks.pdf
  4. The Institute for College Access & Success (2019 April) Quick Facts About Student Debt Retrieved from https://ticas.org/sites/default/files/pub_files/qf_about_student_debt.pdf
  5. Goldstein, Dana (2019, May 20) The Morehouse Gift, in Context: An Average Black Graduate Has $7,400 More in Debt Than White Peers Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/20/us/student-debt-america.html

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500 Women Scientists Philly Pod

The Philly Pod of 500 Women Scientists is a grassroots organization founded in February of 2017 with a vision to make science more open and inclusive to all.