Jill Biden says president will 'make sure that everyone has access to free community college'
via The Hill / YouTube

Education is one of the most reliable ways for people to climb the economic ladder. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says that in 2018, college graduates earned weekly wages that were 80% higher than those of high school graduates.

Americans with a bachelor's degree have median weekly earnings of $1,173, compared to just $712 a week for those who have a high school diploma.

One of the most affordable ways for people to get a college degree is to first start at community college. However, only 42% of first-time college students who attend a community college eventually complete a degree within eight years.


One of the major reasons these students fall through the cracks is the cost of their education. Studies show that graduation rates increase dramatically at community colleges with better public funding.

That's why the Biden Administration is pushing for free community college as a way to improve America's economic standing after the COVID-19 pandemic.

First Lady Dr. Jill Biden, a longtime community college professor, reiterated the Biden Administration's goal of free community college in taped remarks aired Tuesday during a virtual legislative summit hosted by the Association of Community College Trustees and the American Association of Community Colleges.

FLOTUS: "We're going to make sure that everyone has access to free community college" www.youtube.com

"We have to get this done. And we have to do it now," Dr. Biden said. "That's why we're going to make sure that everyone has access to free community college and training programs."

"We're going to make sure students have the support they need to cross that finish line," she said. "We're going to invest in programs that prepare our workers for jobs of the future."

Dr. Biden continues to teach virtually during the pandemic. She is the first first lady to have a paying job outside of the White House.

Last December, then-President-elect Joe Biden shared his pledge to make community and public colleges free. "That's why under the Biden-Harris plan, community college will be free — and public colleges and universities will be tuition-free for families earning less than $125,000 a year," he tweeted.

Biden's Twitter announcement echoed pledges listed on his campaign website, which spoke to "invest[ing] in community colleges and training to improve student success" for the benefit of the middle class.

"All of these proposals will be implemented in partnership with states as well as school faculty and staff. Educators must play a key role in decisions affecting teaching and learning," read a statement on his webpage.

The announcement comes as community college enrollment is on a steady rise. Between 2000 and 2017 undergraduate enrollment in community colleges grew from $13.2 million to $16.8 million. It's expected to rise another 3% over the next seven years.

When the free college debate comes around, cost will no doubt be at the forefront of the discussion. But that assumes we can attach a price tag to the benefit of living in a society that places a higher value on education. A better-educated populace is one with greater opportunities and can allow for greater aspirations.

The bigger question should be, what's the cost of living in a society where many don't have access to a quality education?

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Shanda Lynn Poitra was born and raised on the Turtle Mountain Reservation in Belcourt, North Dakota. She lived there until she was 24 years old when she left for college at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks.

"Unfortunately," she says, "I took my bad relationship with me. At the time, I didn't realize it was so bad, much less, abusive. Seeing and hearing about abusive relationships while growing up gave me the mentality that it was just a normal way of life."

Those college years away from home were difficult for a lot of reasons. She had three small children — two in diapers, one in elementary school — as well as a full-time University class schedule and a part-time job as a housekeeper.

"I wore many masks back then and clothing that would cover the bruises," she remembers. "Despite the darkness that I was living in, I was a great student; I knew that no matter what, I HAD to succeed. I knew there was more to my future than what I was living, so I kept working hard."

While searching for an elective class during this time, she came across a one-credit, 20-hour IMPACT self-defense class that could be done over a weekend. That single credit changed her life forever. It helped give her the confidence to leave her abusive relationship and inspired her to bring IMPACT classes to other Native women in her community.

I walked into class on a Friday thinking that I would simply learn how to handle a person trying to rob me, and I walked out on a Sunday evening with a voice so powerful that I could handle the most passive attacks to my being, along with physical attacks."

It didn't take long for her to notice the difference the class was making in her life.

"I was setting boundaries and people were either respecting them or not, but I was able to acknowledge who was worth keeping in my life and who wasn't," she says.

Following the class, she also joined a roller derby league where she met many other powerful women who inspired her — and during that summer, she found the courage to leave her abuser.

"As afraid as I was, I finally had the courage to report the abuse to legal authorities, and I had the support of friends and family who provided comfort for my children and I during this time," she says.

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Often, parents of children with special needs struggle to find Halloween costumes that will accommodate medical equipment or provide a proper fit. And figuring out how to make one? Yikes.

There's good news; shopDisney has added new ensembles to their already impressive line of adaptive play costumes. And from 8/30 - 9/26, there's a 20% off sale for all costume and costume accessory orders of $75+ with code Spooky.

When looking for the right costume, kids with unique needs have a lot of extra factors to consider: wheelchair wheels get tangled up in too-long material, feeding tubes could get twisted the wrong way, and children with sensory processing disorders struggle with the wrong kind of fabric, seams, or tags. There are a lot of different obstacles that can come between a kid and the ability to wear the costume of their choice, which is why it's so awesome that more and more companies are recognizing the need for inclusive creations that make it easy for everyone to enjoy the magic of make-believe.

Created with inclusivity in mind, the adaptive line is designed to discreetly accommodate tubes or wires from the front or the back, with lots of stretch, extra length and roomier cut, and self-stick fabric closures to make getting dressed hassle-free. The online shop provides details on sizing and breaks down the magical elements of each outfit and accessory, taking the guesswork out of selecting the perfect costume for the whole family.

Your child will be able to defeat Emperor Zurg in comfort with the Buzz Lightyear costume featuring a discreet flap opening at the front for easy tube access, with self-stick fabric closure. There is also an opening at the rear for wheelchair-friendly wear, and longer-length inseams to accommodate seated guests. To infinity and beyond!

An added bonus: many of the costumes offer a coordinating wheelchair cover set to add a major boost of fun. Kids can give their ride a total makeover—all covers are made to fit standard size chairs with 24" wheels—to transform it into anything from The Mandalorian's Razor Crest ship to Cinderella's Coach. Some options even come equipped with sounds and lights!

From babies to adults and adaptive to the group, shopDisney's expansive variety of Halloween costumes and accessories are inclusive of all.

Don't forget about your furry companions! Everyone loves to see a costumed pet trotting around, regardless of the occasion. You can literally dress your four-legged friend to look like Sven from Frozen, which might not sound like something you need in your life but...you totally do. CUTENESS OVERLOAD.

This year has been tough for everyone, so when a child gets that look of unfettered joy that comes from finally getting to wear the costume of their dreams, it's extra rewarding. Don't wait until the last minute to start looking for the right ensemble!


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