California Dream Act Clears the Legislature

By: - May 10, 2011 12:00 am

CALIFORNIA DREAMING: Lawmakers in California sent Governor Jerry Brown a bill last week that would make college financial aid available to residents of the state who are in the country unlawfully. The bill, known as the California Dream Act, would allow illegal immigrants to receive help from endowments or private foundations, as well as preserving their in-state tuition rights, according to The Sacramento Bee . Brown has not indicated whether he will sign the bill. During his campaign, however, he supported giving financial aid to illegal immigrants. A nearly identical piece of legislation cleared the Illinois Senate last week, despite getting no votes from Republicans, The Associated Press reports. And Maryland recently extended in-state tuition to illegal immigrants. In December, lawmakers in Congress voted down a federal Dream Act.

ALABAMA SCHOOL YEAR: Alabama Governor Robert Bentley signed into law a measure allowing storm-ravaged school districts to shorten their school years, The Birmingham News reports. As in most states, Alabama law mandates that schools hold 180 instructional days a year. The new law allows school districts to petition the state superintendent to curtail that requirement if the governor has declared a state of emergency. Pay for school employees would not be affected. Many schools in Alabama were destroyed by last month’s storms.

STATE ATTORNEYS GENERAL TACKLE FOR-PROFIT SCHOOLS: Attorneys general from 10 states have banded together to investigate for-profit colleges, The Chronicle of Higher Education reports. The group will look at the schools’ marketing efforts and try to determine whether they engaged in consumer fraud, a concern that was first raised by a report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office last year. Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway, an outspoken advocate of strict regulation for the schools, has emerged as a leader in the effort, which centers on high student loan balances and low graduation rates. Conway has previously launched his own investigation, as have attorneys general in Iowa, Illinois and Florida. But working together will make it easier for states to share information and perhaps file joint lawsuits, according to the Chronicle.

MICHIGAN CUTS: Michigan’s House of Representatives approved a party-line bill last week that would cut state aid to K-12 schools between and per student, according to the Detroit Free Press . The bill, which Democrats opposed, cuts student aid less than the per student that Governor Rick Snyder proposed but more than the amount endorsed by the state Senate, which limited the cuts to per student. The House bill also cut state universities by 22 percent and community colleges by 15 percent. Universities would see another 5 percent cut if they extend health benefits to domestic partners, under a last-minute provision added by Representative David Agema, a Republican. 

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