For nearly 40 years, Upward Bound has helped young Americans become the first in their families to attend college. This program, which offers the promise of the American dream to those it might otherwise pass by, may soon be imperiled by the prospect of budget cuts. The loss of Upward Bound would be upsetting.

The most significant determinant of a child's educational attainment is that of his or her parents. Studies show a child born to parents without a college education is virtually predestined to follow the same path. To give more than lip service to the American ideal of equal opportunity for everyone, we must be proactive in alleviating the disparities in educational opportunity. Upward Bound has successfully served this end for nearly half a century, enjoying broad bipartisan support throughout most of its history.

The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that the money saved by eliminating Upward Bound would be used to expand President Bush's No Child Left Behind law to high school. The idea behind No Child Left Behind?that we must demand and expect success from every student regardless of background?is one that all Americans should share. However, not only is there significant doubt among educators that the methods employed by the new law will achieve its desired results, but the very results it seeks?higher reading and math test scores?are not a suitable replacement for the college admissions assistance Upward Bound provides. It is with questionable judgment that the Bush administration is considering diverting money from a successful time-tested program to one of uncertain effectiveness.

If, upon release of the president's budget next week, Upward Bound is stripped of its funding, we would call on members of the Bowdoin community to speak up in support of this invaluable program as the budget moves through Congress. We must make it clear to the members of Maine's congressional delegation?two of whom are members of the president's party?that we are serious about bridging the opportunity gap that has already left too many Americans behind.