ONE WAY FOR ACADEMICS TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE, EVEN IN these times of institutional retreat in the face of spurious charges of "political correctness," is for us to challenge universities to take a lead in protecting welfare recipients who attend college. An important way to accomplish this, as women college presidents in Massachusetts and hundreds of other educators across the country are doing, is to lobby directly for programs that support women on welfare when they try to attend college, and to oppose any reform that doesn't allow women to go to college to earn whatever level of degree they can attain. When this happens, as it has in Massachusetts, the debate and policy outcomes are shifted. It is also possible to create state or citywide groups of academics to lobby, coordinate research efforts, and support each other in paying attention to the welfare issue. In Massachusetts we have done this by creating an Academics Working Group on Poverty. But, within universities, some of us can try to do more, just as Oberlin College and Wilberforce and other abolitionist colleges pushed others to oppose slavery a century and a half ago. So, when I speak at universities, I often suggest an academic way we could begin to change consciousness and build a movement at the same time: The Mother Hero Certificate.
Essentially, the Mother Hero Certificate is a serious proposal to universities to train students to value the lives and work of single mothers -- and to understand fully and deeply how serious the implications of the assault on all women, all families, all people will____________________