TAF Academy students advocate for higher education
They say politics is personal, and for TAF Academy students this is particularly true. On February 27th, 23 TAF Academy juniors and seniors set out to Olympia to meet legislators and learn more about the legislative process. They also set out to ensure that legislators learned something from
them: they wanted elected officials to understand the importance of protecting access to higher education for all students in Washington State.
TAF students do not just support this issue in theory; in reality, they and their peers depend on it. This became clear as students talked in small groups about such issues as financing education, supports for first-generation college students, preparing competitive college applications, and the importance of pursuing degrees that will help college graduates enter the workforce.
Students are sharply aware that the playing field is not even for everyone who wants to go to college:
“We know how hard it is to make it to college, especially that college you want to go to. So financial aid can be that final push you need. Sometimes you have the will and the urge to do something, but sometimes you don’t have the means, “ said student Ty Melonson.
In the afternoon, students participated in an advocacy exercise facilitated by Sylvester Cann and Anthony Shoecraft of CCER. They explored such issues as the achievement gap, political power dynamics, and the efficacy of collective action. It was an enriching process in which students displayed their leadership, camaraderie, rhetorical skills, and creativity.
All in all, our hosts were highly impressed with TAF students–their near-future constituents–and seemed eager to make it demonstrate their support of higher education as well. TAF Academy students are emergent leaders whose college plans will help them achieve their goals of becoming graphic designers, nurses, lawyers, teachers, engineers, doctors, authors, and, apparently even politicians and education advocates.
Special thanks to: Representatives Katrina Asay, Tina Orwall, Dave Upthegrove, and Mark Miloscia; Senator Tracey Eide; and Legislative Aides Leanne Horn and Joe Atkinson.