It comes down to what we want for our kids.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski joined about 40 other senators this week to include federal TRIO Programs in the next coronavirus relief package.

TRIO programs support vulnerable students and their families, many of whom have been disproportionately affected by the novel coronavirus.

“Low-income students, students with disabilities, first-generation students, youth who are homeless, have limited English proficiency, and who are in foster care, students in rural communities, and military veterans all already face greater obstacles to their learning experiences and now are often encountering a more substantial impact from COVID-19,” the senators wrote in their letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. “These students are at risk of falling through the cracks of our system and permanently losing a chance to pursue higher levels of education.”

“A significant increase in overall program capacity would allow significantly more vulnerable students to receive support that is critical to their success and to the economy’s revival, such as academic tutoring and counseling; financial literacy programs; assistance with postsecondary planning, college admissions applications, and career counseling; peer and adult mentoring; work-study opportunities; and connections to wrap-around services that make high school and college completion more likely,” the letter stated.

The TRIO programs address disparities in access to and assistance in education. By assisting the students, they can perform academically to complete high school and/or college, acquire jobs and work toward building the economy.

It's difficult not to support students. While some will argue that tthat parents and/or guardians of the kids in these programs should be meeting their needs (they should, with all things being equal), the opportunities given to children at birth vary. Some are born into privilage; others enter lives of extreme challenges, and many are in between.

But we either prepare all students for adulthood and reap the benefits of a well-educated and productive society or suffer the consequences of the opposite. The latter is costly.

We respect the senators for thinking of the most vulnerable children and responding as if they were their own.