My little sister is a senior in high school and will be voting in her first Presidential election this November. Brilliant and talented though she is, up until recently she has been an unengaged teenager who was busier keeping up with the Kardashians and less concerned with presidential politics. A lot of this changed when the Republican primaries picked up.
Young people have often been considered a lazy, undependable voting block. However, the intensity in which the Democratic Party has listened and responded to young people has made all the difference.
22 million people under the age of 30 turned out to vote in 2008, up eleven percentage points since Bush-era 2000. This is not a coincidence but rather the result of the Republican Party’s dismissal of real education reform and their constant blind-eye to the youth vote.
President George W. Bush made college less affordable, less accessible and less productive. During the Bush administration America saw the cost of a college education soar over 60 percent, with more than 60 percent of students having to bog themselves down with loans to pay it off. All the while, nothing was done to increase Pell Grant assistance to meet the rising costs of college tuition.
Despite this luxury price tag, the Republican education policy has been less than thrilling. Bush and his Republican controlled Congress failed to fund the majority of No Child Left Behind—their assembly line approach to educating our countries youth. (Maybe they even knew it sucked?) School districts around the country were forced to allow the performance gap to grow wider as they lacked the financial resources to meet the new nationalized standards. Republicans can’t be serious about young people, when they aren’t serious about education.
On March 30, 2010 President Obama kept his promise to make college more affordable for students all over the country as he signed the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act. This sweeping legislation increases access to Pell grants, reinvests in community colleges, strengthens early childhood education, repairs damaged high schools and colleges, creates the College Access and Completion fund which rewards states who make college more accessible, and most importantly balances student loan payments with a college graduate’s income. That’s a promise kept—and students notice.