The greatest gift parents can give their children is an education. We as Chicanos, Latinos, Hispanos, and Americans have seen our children encounter obstacles in their educational pursuits from PROP 187 in California, Question #2 in Massachusetts, to Arizona’s Prop 203 just to name a few. In 2006 LAUSD had a graduation rate for Latinos of 44% compared to non-minority students with a 77% graduation rate.
Federal law mandates that all children including the undocumented receive a K-12 education only to have their hopes and aspirations taken away when they cannot qualify for in state tuition. In Colorado, HB 1023 precludes undocumented immigrant high school graduates from qualifying for in state tuition even if they have lived in Colorado since they were 2 years old. Does it come as any surprise that undocumented students are ten times less likely to attend college than their peers and often drop out of high school because they see no hope of furthering their education?
The answer is yes in 10 states including California, Illinois, Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah and Washington have passed tuition equity laws granting undocumented high school graduates in state college tuition.
Who really benefits from tuition equity?
America does, your state does, and your city does. Your neighborhoods receive the benefits from tuition equity. “Individuals who do not complete high school are over 25 percent more likely to need public assistance such as welfare, Medicaid, food stamps, or subsidized lunches for their children compared to individuals who attend or graduate from college.”
“States with a large percentage of college educated residents have higher productivity, and are more likely to attract high-growth industries including biomedical, software and new energy economy companies.” In fact you could even call this a long term economic stimulus package that does not cost a dime. Quite the contrary without tuition equity we are single handedly cutting revenues from state colleges and universities by excluding eager minds that desire a college education because they cannot afford out of state tuition.
I am glad you asked. Currently, at least 2 other states Colorado, SB 170, and Virginia, SB 1037, legislation have been introduced to extend the benefits of in state tuition for all high school graduates regardless of legal status! However, introducing bills is not enough we must rally around and talk to our neighbors, small business owners, educators, clergy, and most importantly your elected officials. We cannot continue to wait. This is our moment. This is the time to DREAM. This is the time to ACT.
Isaac R. Medrano<br>Pueblo, CO