Best and worst from this week’s headlines

History was made in Montgomery County, Md. this week as the area’s elected school board garnered its most diverse membership to date.

The school board serves a majority-minority community that has grown increasingly diverse over the past few decades – so the governing group finally matches the school’s makeup.

However, it may be hard to focus on the positives when hundreds of thousands of federal workers are struggling because of the government shutdown – and veteran students and those who work some federal work study jobs may soon be affected too.

Here’s the best and worst from this week’s headlines:

Thumbs up:

Montgomery County’s school district – which is less than an hour away from campus – serves more than 168,000 students from kindergarten through high school. In this district, 31 percent of students are Latino, 28 percent are white, 22 percent are black and 14 percent are Asian. Out of the eight members that have just joined the board, all of them are women and the newly elected president is the first black woman to hold the position.

With such a diverse student population, it is heartening to see that the members of the school board now better represent the students they serve.

Having a diverse school board may not seem that important to the students enrolled there and many of the parents whose students attend the public schools are probably unable to name the men and women who serve on the board, but having diverse members can influence the policies and rules that students and teachers must follow.

Research shows that having racially diverse members on a school board effects suspension rates, students’ placement in special education and resources for students in English language programs. While having racially diverse school board members is not the only thing needed for a supportive school district, it appears that Montgomery County is moving in the right direction.

Thumbs down:

As of Friday, the government has been shut down for a full week. During winter break, many students are out of the District and unaffected by the shutdown. But roughly 800,000 workers are feeling the sting of either working without pay or not being able to work entirely and some of those workers include fellow students.

At the beginning of 2018, the government was in danger of another shutdown. Ahead of the last spring semester, the University warned veteran students were in danger of receiving their benefits late and students who work off-campus federal work study jobs would likely not be able to work.

More than 20 percent of undergraduate students are awarded federal work study, but not every student accepts the federal award. If the government shutdown continues into the start of the semester – which is only two weeks away – it is likely that those same issues will affect students.

President Donald Trump stated Tuesday that he did not know when the government would reopen and his top priority is obtaining funding for a border wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. While ensuring that the nation is safe from outside threats should be a priority, creating a wall is not the answer to problem and shutting down the government to do so doesn’t help matters.

Trump has shutdown the government under the guise of securing money for a wall to “protect” us, while simultaneously pausing the income of families across the country and putting them in danger.

As a student who works an on-campus federal work-study job, I am grateful that my income won’t be affected, but it is disheartening to know that many families are struggling to make ends meet – and will continue to struggle – until the shutdown ends.

Renee Pineda, a senior majoring in political science, is The Hatchet’s opinions editor.

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