Budget cuts could doom Upward Bound program

By Tony Parra

Upward Bound organizers are afraid the program may be cut by President George W. Bush in next year’s proposed budget to provide more funding for the “No Child Left Behind” program.
The Eastern New Mexico University Upward Bound program has been operating for more than 30 years, and currently serves students from Portales, Dora, Elida, Floyd, Texico, Mescalero, Hondo and Ruidoso.
Upward Bound programs in the United States have targeted low-income, minority, disabled and disadvantaged students for the last 40 years.
There are approximately 60 high school students from Roosevelt, Curry and Lincoln Counties in ENMU’s program, and they meet twice every month in Portales. During the sessions, the students go over their high school work and take additional classes.
During the summer those high school students spend six weeks on the ENMU campus, living in the dormitories and attending classes. Organizers try to acclimate high school students with college life and the students during those six weeks.
“I don’t think I would be going to college if it wasn’t for Upward Bound,” said Eva Ontiveros, a Clovis High School senior. Ontiveros said she always believed because her parents could afford to send her to college, she would not be able to go.
After seeing her older sister Santa take part in Upward Bound and follow that up by attending ENMU, Eva changed her mind and knows how to pay for school through a combination of scholarships, students loans and financial aid.
As it is currently written, Bush’s proposed budget for the fiscal year of 2006 would eliminate $4.3 billion for educational programs. The budget would cut 48 educational programs, three of which are available at ENMU.
Upward Bound is one of those three programs. Educational Talent Search and Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR-UP) are the other two ENMU programs that would be affected.
Bush wants to free up money to expand the “No Child Left Behind” program, which sets requirements for schools in order to close achievement gaps in education.
“Upward Bound has given students an opportunity to succeed,” said Susan Cramp, ENMU’s Upward Bound director. “It’s a proven fact that our students graduate high school and go to college. I don’t understand why you would cut a program that has been successful for 40 years for a program in the development stages.”
Cramp said 100 percent of ENMU’s Upward Bound seniors graduated from high school in 2004 and 90 percent of those students enrolled in college.
“The programs help students go to college who otherwise would not have an opportunity,” Cramp said.
Juliana Jaramillo, a senior at Broad Horizons Educational Center in Portales, said Upward Bound resident assistants, counselors and administrators help her with everything from class work to financial aid.
“It gives you a chance to improve yourself,” Jaramillo said. “Some students are real shy at their high schools, but when they get to Upward Bound they open up. They become involved in all of the activities.”
High school students can begin attending the program as high school freshmen. With each additional year that a student remains in Upward Bound, there is a 9 percent increase in attendance at a post-secondary institution, according to the U.S. Department of Education Web site.