Monday, April 13, 2009

Laura Blackwell Clark to lawmakers: don't withhold college

HB0808 would close universities' doors to Tennessee students

Students without visas flourish with the responsibilities they can control

Hearing tomorrow in Higher Education Subcommittee (h/t Post Politics) reports that MTSU professor Laura Blackwell Clark has told state lawmakers that a bill to withhold college from good but unvisaed students is bad for the community at large:
"We allow (non-citizen) people to go to public institutions if they pay out-of-state tuition," Laura Blackwell Clark, assistant professor of Educational Leadership at Middle Tennessee State University, told the subcommittee. "This bill is seeking to close the door to the opportunity for a person who is undocumented to attend a public institution of higher learning. … I’m asking you to think about this and to not support this bill. My belief is when we block educational access to any of the residents, any citizens, any non-citizens, any people who are part of our American community, we do our community a disservice in the long term."
The Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights position on the bill is here. The bill, HB0808, will be on the calendar of the House Higher Education Subcommittee on Tuesday.

Students without visas flourish with the responsibilities they can control

Tennessee's visaless high schoolers are still achieving success, despite the barriers set up against employment after graduation (see this story). As I've said before, any proposal to blockade high performers from college altogether echoes of the doomsday clock and the misery strategy. Even if one fully considers both concepts and embraces them as "sticks" to use against parents, supporting HB0808 and opposing legal status for good students requires being comfortable offering no "carrot" to the kids for their good behavior here.

Students who have gone on to college without visas - a population that exists in many places including Tennessee, at least currently - are interviewed in the video below. We have the choice of designing a system that moves them backward in society (the misery strategy) or one that recognizes that through their success they should earn something better than a dead end:

Click here to act

If you would like to take action on this issue, try one of the following:One final word on the DREAM Act - President Obama's statement about it during the campaign:

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