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Action Alert: Ask President Obama About College in Prisons on Matt Lauer Live!!

CLICK to submit the question to Matt Lauer to ask President Obama
9-25-2010 National:
On Monday, September 27th, at 8:00 AM ET, President Obama will sit down with Matt Lauer for a LIVE one-on-one interview about the state of education in America. NBC is allowing the public to submit suggested questions to ask the president during the interview. We have developed a list of questions that directly address the state of higher education in our prisons.

The more questions they get about this issue the more likely they will be to bring it up with the President on live television. Please select ONE of the seven questions below, copy it, and submit it at link ABOVE.

1. Are you aware of systematic barriers to education faced by people who have been in prison because they made a past mistake in their lives? Do you think they should have to jump additional hurdles to get admitted into college?

2. There is a growing national campaign to restore Pell Grant eligibility to incarcerated people. Dallas Pell, daughter of the late Senator Claiborne Pell who is credited with initiating Pell Grants, is working with a coalition of organizations to spearhead a campaign called “Education from the Inside, Out”. What are your views on college education in prisons, and more specifically the restoration of Pell Grant eligibility to incarcerated individuals?

3. Dozens of studies have concluded that access to higher education significantly reduces criminal recidivism and increases the likelihood that people released from prison will successfully integrate into society and become law-abiding, taxpaying citizens. Yet, the 1994 crime bill and the subsequent reauthorization of the Higher Education Act in 1995 deem people in prison (often the poorest members of our society) ineligible for federal financial aid. Mr. President, you propose increased access to college for ALL Americans. Does that include people in correctional institutions? If so, would you be willing to carefully reconsider the ban on federal financial aid to that population?

4. Since jobs requiring at least an associate degree are growing twice as fast as jobs requiring no college experience, shouldn’t we reconsider reversing the ban on Pell Grants for prisoners, so that they may have an equal opportunity to compete in the job market?

5. Undersecretary of Education, Dr. Martha Kanter, has made it her goal during her administration to expand access to higher education for the low-income, minority and the first generation college student. We have 2.2 million people in prison that overwhelmingly match that description. Why can’t they have access to higher education via Pell Grants?

6. President Obama wants the United States to once again lead the world in the number of college graduates, by increasing their completion rate by 50 percent. Are incarcerated students part of these mandates? If not, why?

7. Our prisons our bursting at the seams and minorities, particularly the black male, are overrepresented in the system. If you want to educate them, if you want to reclaim that talent out there, you have to go into the prisons. Why is there no enough support in your administration to restore federal funding for higher education in prison?

This is a tremendous opportunity to get our issue on the President’s radar. PLEASE forward this message to your friends and colleagues.

Many thanks,
Vivian Nixon
Executive Director
College and Community Fellowship

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