Tag Archives: higher education

Punishing the children of illegal immigrants: There’s something wrong with this picture.

(cross-posted to Utah LegislatureWatch)
NOTE:  There is a lot of discussion occuring at the ULW Facebook page – search for "Utah Legislature Watch".

A prospective college student wishes to enroll at the University of Utah but lives in Wyoming.  To avoid paying out of state tuition, this student moves to Utah and obtains employment and after residing and working for a period of one year establishes residency.  This student is now eligible to enroll at the U of U at in-state tuition costs.  This is just one way of establishing residency.  The entire Utah Code on residency requirements can be found at Title 53B State System Of Higher Education, Chapter 8 Tuition Waiver and Scholarships, Section 102 Definition of resident student.

A student who has lived in Utah most of her life, has attended high school and has graduated with a high school diploma and who happens to be the child of an illegal immigrant is eligible for in-state tuition at the U of U (and other higher ed institutions)……..for now.

If Rep. Carl Wimmer, R-Herriman has his way, with a bill he plans to introduce in the 2011 Utah Legislative session, children of illegal immigrants in Utah will have to pay out of state tuition.  (In-state tuition costs at the U of U run about$2600 per semester compared to Out-of-state tution at about  $8300).

Wimmer’s bill doesn’t propose blocking access to education for students based on citizenship status. Wimmer said the tuition break is unfair to American-born citizens.

“Many of them will still go to college they’ll just have to pay the full rate,” Wimmer said. “It’s fundamentally unfair that an American-born citizen from Evanston, Wyo., would have to pay more to go the University of Utah than an illegal immigrant. It’s fundamentally flawed.”

(Salt Lake Tribune, December 26, 2010)

Wimmer goes on to say that he feels his bill will be successful in light of the failure of Congress to pass the DREAM act, which would have permitted children of illegal immigrants to earn permanent status through education or military service.

This is a bad bill.  It punishes children.  Rep.  Wimmer should devote his energies to bills that are not punitive in nature.

Still We Rise

The last day of the Utah Legislature for 2010 saw a rally by students called “Still We Rise”, a group of activists, students and community members which unveiled  a “Student Bill of Rights.”


(Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune)

Rally Statement:

“We the Communities take back the power to declare our inalienable rights that have been promised but not practiced. We rise to protect our civil liberties and to show our legislators they will be held accountable for their actions today and tomorrow. We march to the heartbeats of our ancestors and we rise together united by our struggles.”

The 2010 legislative session has become increasingly frustrating for community members. A number of bills were considered and implemented this session intended to mute the present opportunities and programs that benefit Utah’s marginalized communities. Community members from all over SLC have followed this session and have organized to express their opposition to the bills considered in 2010.

Event organized by student community groups including: The Magpie Collective, Mestizo Institute of Culture and Art (“MICA”), SLC Brown Berets, Movimient Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan (“MEChA”), Family School Partnership (“FSP”), Utah Coalition of La Raza (“UCLR”).

Highlighted bills that were considered by organizers to be detrimental to marginalized communities included:

HJR 24-A proposition to end Affirmative Action.

HB 428- A proposition to repeal in-state tuition for resident and hard working undocumented students.

HB 227-A proposition to require prospective business owners to present documentation that verifies they have the “right” to be in the United States.

SB 251-A proposition that mandates the use of e-verify for every employer.

HB 90-A proposition to benefit public and higher education through a slight tax increase on high wage earners did not leave committee as legislators sacrificed quality education to ensure attractive tax rates for prospective corporations to settle in Utah.

HJR 21-A proposition to withdraw Utah from the Western Climate Initiative.

SB 54-A proposition that would require schools to incorporate instruction about contraception in heath education courses which would benefit communities did not pass through committee

(cross-posted to Utah Legislature Watch)

Education: Everyone’s “bag”

Education is always a hot topic in the Legislature and this year is no exception.  Issues such as how to keep our students safe, how to best educate them with the funding provided, what and what not to teach them, class size…..the list is overwhelming.  The education of our children is and should be high on the list of  priorities.  Here is a look at what’s shaking in Utah’s Education Legislation:

HB72 Utah School Seismic Hazard Inventory addresses the big safety issue – earthquake-proofing school buildings because it’s just a matter of time before the “Big One” hits.  To that end, experts say a “to-do” list is imperative.

An informal survey four years ago found that 58 percent of about 800 school buildings were constructed before the modern seismic standards started being used in the mid-1970’s. With about 560,000 students in public and charter school buildings, assessing earthquake-worthiness and tackling a statewide to-do list is urgent, earthquake experts say.

“It’s critical,” said Roger Evans, chairman of the Utah Seismic Safety Commission, “because you can see what happened in Haiti and Chile can happen on the Wasatch Front someday when we have the Big One. It’s a real issue for all our school kids.”

The possibility that an earthquake could kill Utah schoolchildren has always been on the radar for commission members, but it became grimly real when members studied video of schools crumbling in the Sichuan Province earthquake of 2008.

(Salt Lake Tribune)

The bill did not pass the House last week because some lawmakers are hesitant to spend the extra money, even though it has been pointed out that funds were used recently to upgrade the State Capitol Building to seismic standards.

Salt Lake Tribune Columnist Paul Rolley highlights the provision in HB355 Legal Guardianship Amendments which addresses a school’s rights to challenge a guardianship of students:

During a year when public schools face tens of millions of dollars in shortfalls, the Utah House of Representatives passed a bill that helps ensure out-of-state youth hockey players get a free education here at an estimated cost to Utah taxpayers of $500,000 to $1 million.

HB355, which would make it more difficult for a school district to challenge a legal guardianship in court, was sponsored by Rep. Stephen Sandstrom, R-Orem, whose son is a member of the Chadders Hockey Club, a main backer of the bill.

With the benign title of “Guardianship Amendments,” it moved stealthily through the House and now is in the Senate.

Read the rest of his post here.

Utah Moms Care, a blog dedicated to civil discourse on issues that affect Utah families, has a post on the Education Budget here, where they have this to say about HB166 Reductions to Education Mandates:

HB 166 Reduction to Education Mandates by Rep. Dougall is a mixed bag. The bill gives local school boards and charter schools more options to consider by making some education mandates optional for the next two years. For example, school districts will be exempt from administering the 10th grade basic skills competency test for the next 2 years. This is also the bill that pushes the busing boundaries out to 3 miles for a secondary school. That does not mean that if you live within the 3 mile radius that all bus service will be stopped, it only dictates that state money cannot be spent on routes within a 3 mile range – school districts will have to cover the cost of areas closer to the school.

The Utah Association of Public Charter Schools has posted a list of bills its members are supporting:

Continue reading

Affirmative Action: A Thing Of The Past?

Some Utah Legislators hope so.

HJ24 Equal Treatment by Government is moving faster than one can say “equal rights”.  The Resolution is aimed at eliminating Affirmative Action and would require an amendment to Utah’s Constitution, which would be up to the voters to ratify in the November election.

Ward Connerly, a former member of the University of California Board of Regents … has worked to pass similar legislation in other states, was in town to testify for the bill.”The implication is that those of us who are … minorities cannot compete and therefore society has to bestow its benevolence,” Connerly, who is black, told lawmakers. “Sometimes we don’t realize that’s a double-edge sword. We demean people.”

Senate President Michael Waddoups, R-Taylorsville, said the measure will help ensure Utah colleges don’t discriminate.

“We’re not getting necessarily the most qualified students there because of the quota system,” Waddoups said.

Opponents are angry at the speed at which this is occuring:

“To pull this bill out two days ago, and ram it down the throats of this community, is awful,” said Rep. Jackie Biskupski, D-Salt Lake City. “This is big, and it deserves public input.”

Jeanetta Williams, president of the NAACP Salt Lake Branch, said she wasn’t made aware of the proposal until Thursday night.

“He’s trying to kind of do it in a backdoor approach, which I find very offensive,” Williams said.

Senator Margaret Dayton supports the Resolution:

This fast moving resolution has caused a flurry of controversy.

But is the Resolution really necessary?  The Standard.net has published an opinion piece on the issue.

Our main beef with Oda’s resolution is a concern over whether it’s really needed in Utah. According to Kay Harward, University of Utah senior associate vice president for enrollment management, there is no preferential treatment when it comes to admission in state universities. Also, state agencies are not allowed to use preferential treatment in hirings or promotions.

Nevertheless, Utah legislators are determined to prevent even a hint of a non-existent quota system from infecting our state. Before that energy is expended, it might be a good idea for Oda and other anti-affirmative action fighters to find evidence of such discrimination in the state.

Agreed.  The evidence has yet to be published to solidify the justification for this Resolution.

(cross-posted to Utah Legislature Watch)

Outlining Priorities: Guv’s State of the State

Utah Legislature Watch)
Governor Herbert delivered his first State of the State Addre

tonight. His priorities including keeping taxes from being raised, holding public education harmless from budget cuts, transportation, and legislative ethics reform.

For the first time in three years, we are expecting an increase in revenue for the upcoming fiscal year. Housing is beginning to stabilize, the state’s labor market is resilient and our unemployment rate remains below the national average. I know this is of small consolation to those who are out of work, but we will continue to make sound policy decisions to move this state – and your families – back to solid economic ground and toward a more hopeful future. 

First and foremost, we must protect public and higher education. Utah has long been committed to funding our public schools, our colleges and universities, and our technical institutions. In fact, few states in the country spend as much of their overall budgets on education as we do. Our unique demographics – which is a way of saying we have larger families – mean we must continue to increase funding to maintain and enhance the solid education and training our students receive.

In spite of our difficult budget situation, I call upon you, our great legislators, to maintain our current level of commitment to education! Secondly, we must balance our budget responsibly, and in a way that does not stifle an economy that is finally beginning to show signs of recovery. We need to support our hard-working citizens and businesses, not stifle them with new tax burdens. We need to help them succeed, not hamper their success. And we need to think toward the future, not just of today. 


Read the entire text of Governor Herbert’s State of the State address here.

Let the Games Begin!

(cross-posted to Utah Legislature Watch)

Today’s opening of the Utah Legislature will bring  a variety of  issues in the spotlight, among them being:

The Budget- addressing the “shortfall” and how/if to use the “rainy day” fund and other measures to generate revenue –  and within the budget debate are the hot topics of public and higher education, state retirement system, transportation and taxes on food, as well as the overall raising of taxes issue.

Ethics Reform – including a controversial citizen’s initiative and a package of proposed ethics bills by legislators, inlcuding establishing an independent commission to hear complaints from citizens and putting limits on campaign contributions.

Fair Housing and Employment practice for gays and lesbians – a bill proposed that will afford the GLBT population protection from discrimination in employment and housing

Health Care Reform – an overhaul of Utah’s health care system through a package of bills that intend to divert the current sick care system to a more preventative health care system.

Sex Education – measures to determine how much information students should have access to when it comes to using contraception

Be sure to connect to the Utah Legislature’s website which has a multitude of resources including bill tracking, archived videos of the various sessions and a children’s page.  See also Utah Legislature Watch’s post on resources and the various news feeds along the sidebars of our site.

And awaayy we go!

Hard economic times and cost of tuition making college education further from reality for some

Higher education was not exempt from the figurative slash of the knife in its budget this year by the Utah legislature.

Lawmakers cut 9% from higher education’s funding, resulting inemployee furloughs and layoffs and  higher tuition for students pursuing their education at Utah colleges.  It is anticipated that future years will see even more cuts to higher education budgets.

While some students are grateful that the tuition hikes did not go any higher than they did (ranging anywhere from 4% to 9.5%  in Utah’s  colleges), there are many students who are working their way through college and barely making it with current tuition costs.  These hikes will make it even more difficult for these students to attain their goals during this time of economic hardships when their employment situations will not see relative pay increases to match their now rising cost of attending post secondary institutions.

Utah needs to examine tuition-free programs for students, particularly those with low incomes, like other states do, such as Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, and West Virginia.

(cross-posted to Utah Legislature Watch)