Colorado ASSET passes Senate Education Committee
Colorado ASSET passed the first legislative test of the 2012 session by coming out of the Senate Education committee on a 4-3 vote, January 26. Next the bill will head to the Senate floor.
Senate Bill 12-015, sponsored by Sen. Giron and Sen. Michael Johnston, would create a new category of tuition called 'standard-rate tuition' for undocumented students who attend three or more years of high school in Colorado and graduate (or obtain a GED). Colorado ASSET students must meet other eligibility requirements, to include beginning the process to seek legal status to live in the United States.
"We believe that we can't and must not allow another generation of young immigrants to struggle for the chance to contribute to American society," Senator Angela Giron, a bill sponsor, told the committee. "These students were brought here as babies and small children. They've worked hard, gotten good grades and have been accepted to college. Many of them are leaders in their schools, in their communities...We've already invested in their education and we need to realize that investment back."
Colorado Education Association is a partner in the Higher Education Access Alliance, a broad coalition backing the measure united in the belief that all students should have access to higher education. Dorian DeLong, a civics teacher from Thornton High School and District 12 Education Association member, testified at the committe hearing and made the following points:
DeLong testifies before the Senate committee
"Over the last 15 years, I have worked with so many students whose lives have been impacted by this issue. Far too many of them have had their dreams deferred because of our failure to provide them with the opportunity to continue their education."
"Our current system is failing (students). We need to develop and foster the state's best and brightest."
"We are truly losing the future of Colorado to other states. I've had the honor to teach in an international baccalaureate program, and I've seen some of our top students pack their bags and leave to Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico and Utah."
"We've invested in their K-12 education, and yet when they graduate from our K-12 system, we reap none of the reward. California, Texas, Washington - they gain these benefits."
"Enough is enough. It is far past the time to take action. We have the opportunity to strengthen Colorado and to strengthen our democratic society. I urge the committee to do what is best for the future of our state and our children and work to pass this bill into law."
DeLong added stories of three of his students who would benefit today from the passage of Senate Bill 12-015.
The standard-rate tuition level will be set at the in-state tuition level, but will not be reduced by Colorado's College Opportunity Fund. Colorado ASSET students will not be eligible for any state or federal financial aid, which means no taxpayer dollars will fund the program.
"Passing Colorado ASSET will raise over $4 million a year for our institutions of higher education without costing taxpayers a dime. That is something everyone should be able to get behind. We look forward to continuing the conversation about Colorado ASSET until we pass the bill," said Sen. Johnston.