Is the Dream over?

Luis E. Juarez-Trevino, a fifth grade bilingual teacher in Dallas, is “DACAmented.”

President Obama’s 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) order make it possible for undocumented immigrants to work legally without fear of deportation. Teach for America has placed 146 “DACAmented” teachers — also known as “Dreamers” — in classrooms, reports Education Week. Will they stay or will they go?

In a 60 Minutes interview, Trump said he’ll prioritize deporting criminal immigrants before deciding about people who’ve broken only the immigration laws. (His estimate of two to three million “bad hombres” is very high.)

Deporting Dreamers makes little sense, says Stephen Legomsky, former chief counsel at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. To qualify for DACA, they’re supposed to be in school or working and have clean records. “As a practical matter, it seems like these folks would be the lowest priority of all,” he said.

Will Trump let people who arrived as children continue to get work permits?

Undocumented use Chicago’s free college plan

Cleon Gargantiel and Dannel Owen Gargantiel register for the Star Scholarship at Wells Community Academy High School with the help of Michael Jones of City Colleges of Chicago at a December 2014 information session as their father, Serafin Gargantiel Jr. (right), looks on.Cleon and Dannel Gargantiel register for the Star Scholarship at their Chicago high school as their father looks on. Photo: Michelle Kanaar

Undocumented students are the biggest beneficiaries of Chicago’s “free college” program, the Chicago Reporter has found. The Star Scholarship, which pays for two years of tuition, fees and books at City Colleges of Chicago, is open to academically qualified (B average) students with financial need.

In the first year, a majority of Star Scholars didn’t receive a free ride because their costs were covered by federal and state financial aid. Of those who did get a free ride, 56 percent were undocumented immigrants, who often skip college because they’re not eligible for aid. The rest came from families who earned too much for federal aid, but not enough to afford college costs.

This has given so many of our students the opportunity to go to college when they wouldn’t be able to otherwise,” said Alan Mather, chief of college and career success for Chicago Public Schools.

The Star Scholarship “has definitely become a big conversation and option for our kids,” said Karen Devine, lead counselor at Taft High School, which had 61 Star Scholars. More than a third did not qualify for financial aid because of family income.

Also from my hometown: Enrollment has fallen sharply at Chicago State University; there are only 86 students in the freshman class. No doubt that’s because the “college dropout factory” has a graduation rate of only 11 percent.

Surely, it’s time to close Chicago State. The City College system, now focused on “structured pathways” to a career or a four-year degree, serves similarly underprepared students more effectively.

Undocumented — and very smart

Classics scholar Dan-el Padilla Peralta, a graduate of Manhattan’s Collegiate School, Princeton, Oxford and Stanford, will join the Princeton faculty next year. In Undocumented, he describes his “odyssey from a homeless shelter to the Ivy League.”

Born in the Dominican Republic, Padilla came to the U.S. at the age of four with his parents, who were seeking medical care for his pregnant mother. When the visa expired, she stayed with her two sons. His father, unable to find a job, returned home.

In a homeless shelter’s library, Padilla discovered a book on ancient Greece. He also met an arts teacher who helped him apply for a scholarship to Collegiate, an elite private school that teaches Latin and Greek.

His research focuses on the importance of religion in the rise of mid-Republican Rome.

States will vote on vouchers, charters, ed reform

Across the nation, voters will have a chance to change state education policies, notes the Hechinger Report.

A ballot initiative in Florida would amend the Constitution to allow religious schools to receive vouchers.

Georgia is voting on a special commission to authorize new charters.

Washington voters have rejected charter schools three times, but another charter measure is on the ballot, along with a “trigger” that would let a majority of parents, or teachers, vote to convert their traditional public school into a charter.

Idaho’s teachers union hopes voters will reject three recently passed education laws.

Proposition 1 aims to repeal a law mandating that 50 percent of teacher evaluations be tied to student growth – an increasingly common policy nationwide. The law also abolished teacher tenure, limited collective bargaining and eliminated incentives for early retirement. Proposition 2 would end Idaho’s new merit pay plan, which provides bonuses for teachers and administrators based on student growth on standardized tests. The law also allows for bonuses to be given to teachers who take hard-to-staff positions or leadership roles. And if a majority vote yes on Proposition 3, a law mandating that all students take two online classes before graduating high school will be repealed.

Voters in Maryland will decide on in-state tuition at public universities for undocumented immigrants.

Indiana Superintendent Tony Bennett’s re-election campaign is “being watched nationally as a referendum on reform,” Fordham’s Mike Petrilli told AP. “If Tony Bennett can push this type of aggressive reform agenda and win, it will give a big lift to other politicians eager to enact similar reforms.” Indiana now has the biggest voucher program in the country.

Also keep an eye on Michigan, where a union-sponsored measure would put collective-bargaining rights in the state constitution. That would block education reforms, argues Michelle Rhee, who’s put Students First PAC money into the “no” campaign.

Many ‘dreamers’ will need GED, college access

Young illegal immigrants began applying this week for two-year stays on deportation and renewable work permits. High school drop-outs can qualify by enrolling in a GED or job training program. That sets the bar low: Enrolling is easy; completion is hard.

Also on Community College Spotlight:  Half the jobs lost in the recession have been recovered, according to a Georgetown report, but virtually all new jobs require college credentials — a certificate, associate degree or bachelor’s.

Amnesty doesn’t require college, military service

President Obama’s quasi-amnesty for young illegal immigrants doesn’t require college attendance or military service, according to Homeland Security Chief Janet Napolitano’s memo. Applicants who came illegally by age 16 and are 30 or younger must pass a background check showing no felonies or multiple misdemeanors. In addition, the applicant must be: “currently in school, has graduated from high school, has obtained a general education development certificate, or is an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the  United States.”  Those who qualify will be able to get two-year work permits renewable indefinitely.

“In school” seems to refer to high school. Would dropouts qualify if they enroll in GED or basic skills classes at a community college?  Do they have to pass their classes?

The military provision is a bit puzzling: Illegal immigrants aren’t eligible to serve in the military. However, a few use fraudulent papers to enlist. The order doesn’t say whether those who qualify for temporary work permits will be allowed to serve in the military. If so, would their service qualify them for citizenship?  I can’t imagine denying citizenship to military veterans.

In May, speaking at the commencement of Miami Dade College‘s commencement ceremonies, President Obama reaffirmed his support for the Dream Act, which provides a path to citizenship for young immigrants who complete two years of college or serve in the military in the six years after qualifying for conditional legal status. The executive order, which doesn’t promise citizenship, sets a much lower bar.

Obama orders ‘Dream’ amnesty

Congress has refused to pass the Dream Act, which would offer a path to citizenship to young illegal immigrants who enroll in college or serve in the military. Today President Obama ordered a quasi-amnesty for young illegal immigrants who’d be protected from deportation and allowed work permits. To qualify, they must have arrived in the U.S. before the age of 16, live in the U.S. for at least five years, be no more than 30 now, have a high school diploma or GED, attend college or serve in the military. Those with criminal records will not be eligible.

If the executive order withstands a legal challenge, the promise of a work permit could motivate more immigrant students to finish high school — or at least earn a GED — and enroll in community college. Apparently, they won’t have to finish a credential.

I predict pressure to waive deportation for young immigrants with minor criminal records and weak academic credentials.

Update:  Obama’s executive order means increased competition for jobs and college places, the Washington Post headlines. The jobs issues will be the biggie.

I don’t know if Obama will gain more Latino votes than he’ll lose in the backlash against adding 800,000 young workers to the above-ground labor force at a time of high unemployment.

Republican pushes STARS instead of DREAM

A Republican alternative to the DREAM Act creates a path to citizenship for children brought illegally to the U.S. — if they complete a bachelor’s degree. But the STARS (Studying Towards Adjusted Residency Status) Act, introduced by Florida Rep. David Rivera, doesn’t have broad Republican support.

California dreaming

California’s Dream Act, which offers state aid to undocumented college students, passed the Legislature on Friday; Gov. Jerry Brown is expected to sign the bill.

High school graduates with three or more years in California could apply for Cal Grants, which pay for tuition, fees, books and living expenses for lower-income students.

Assemblyman Gil Cedillo, D-Los Angeles, introduced the bill and said that it is necessary to ensure that California has an educated workforce in the future, including students who didn’t come to the country by their own choice but excelled in school.

“We will need them for our future, for our position in the global economy,” he said. “We don’t have one student to spare.”

Democrats passed the bill on a party-line vote.

The bill is expected to cost the state up to $40 million per year to fund grants to an estimated 34,000 community college students, 3,600 in the California State University system, and as many as 642 in the University of California system.

Once students earn degrees, they’ll be unable to work legally in the state, critics said. The federal Dream Act, which includes a path to citizenship through college attendance or military service, has failed repeatedly.

Is Pell spending out of control?

Spending on Pell Grants for low-income college students has more than doubled in the last three years. Democrats and Republicans are looking for solutions — but not in the same places.

Also on Community College Spotlight:  Two bills extending college aid to undocumented students passed a legislative committee in California this week.