Quality education for all children and safer communities were the focus of comments by Rev. Jesse L. Jackson Sr., founder and president of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, during this week's Saturday Morning Forum.
"Our children need and deserve... quality academics, music, sports and art. All of these things make for a well-rounded education," said Rev. Jackson, emphasizing that many under-served Chicago Public Schools lack these and other essentials.
Following the recent report that 508 Chicago Public School students were fatally shot in a 16-month period, Rev. Jackson continued his appeal to President Barack Obama to revive the federal ban on assault weapons which expired in 1994. He also encouraged audience members to support legislation that, if passed, would require the sale or transfer of any handgun between two private individuals to be conducted at a federally licensed firearms dealer so that a background check could be completed.
"The economic stimulus money must reach these neighborhoods that are riddled with drugs and guns," said Rev. Jackson. "We need economic intervention, jobs and job training for your young people and the chronically unemployed."
Later in the broadcast, Rev. Jackson reiterated the points of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition's educations stimulus plan, which calls on Congress to: § Reduce the interest rate on all student loans to 1% § Extend the grace period before loan repayment begins from 6 months to 18 months from the date of graduation § End penalties assessed against schools for student loan defaults § Increase Pell Grants to cover the average yearly cost of a public 4-year institution (as opposed to the amounts in the current stimulus package--$5,350 starting in July and $5,550 in 2010-2011)
According to Alan Michael Collinge, author of The Student Loan Scam: The Most Oppressive Debt in U.S. History - and How We Can Fight Back, the average college graduate now leaves school with $23,000 in student loan debt and the figure nearly doubles for graduate students who take $42,000 of debt into the real world.
On other fronts, the Rainbow PUSH Coalition and the Citizenship Education Fund will host their 2009 annual conference, "A More Perfect Union -- Targeted Stimulus: The Key to Reconstruction," from June 27 to July 1 at the Hyatt McCormick Place, 2233 S. Martin Luther King Jr. Dr., Chicago.
Saturday Morning Forum airs at 10 a.m. CST on the Word Network, CAN-TV and WJYS.
The Rainbow PUSH Coalition is a progressive organization protecting, defending and expanding civil rights to improve economic and educational opportunity. The organization is headquartered at 930 E. 50th St. in Chicago. For more information about the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, please visit www.rainbowpush.org or call (773) 373-3366