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2FW: Janet Murguia op-ed in Lawrence Journal World: Kansas Should Proudly Support Immigrants' Educational Dreams

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  • peter Munoz
    Feb 21, 2006

      Attached is an excellent article by Janet Murgia, President and CEO of National Council of La Raza, who writes against a current effort to defeat in-state tuition for immigrant students in Kansas .  Hopefully that effort will fail.


      Here in Wisconsin we hope the State will adopt legislation soon to make it possible for immigrant students who have graduated from our high schools to access our state universities under resident status.  This would not only be good for our community’s future but for that of Wisconsin and our nation.


      From: Lisa Ramirez [mailto:lramirez@...]
      Sent: Tuesday, February 21, 2006 2:22 PM
      To: pmunoz@...
      Subject: Janet Murguia op-ed in Lawrence Journal World: Kansas Should Proudly Support Immigrants' Educational Dreams



      Dear Affiliates,


      Please click on the link below to read Janet's op-ed in the Lawrence Journal World.


      Kansas should proudly support immigrants' educational dreams




      Kansas should proudly support immigrants’ educational dreams

      By Janet Murguía

      Monday, February 20, 2006

      Living in our nation’s capital has reinforced my belief that Kansas is a special place where helping your neighbor comes as naturally as breathing. And regardless of where I make my home, I still live by the Kansas values so ingrained in me since childhood. These have served me well in life, as has the fine education I received from the Kansas public education system, from kindergarten through college.

      I am now president and CEO of the largest national Hispanic advocacy organization in the United States . As I further our mission to improve the quality of life for Hispanics throughout this great country, I stay close to the lessons I learned from my family, my teachers, and my church back in Kansas . Treat people well. Reach out and help whenever you can. And, remember, education and hard work form the well-trodden path to the American Dream.

      My parents were immigrants who chose to build a life for themselves and their children in Kansas . They made sure we studied and worked hard and gave back to our community. I am proud of all that we have accomplished. My brother Ramon graduated from Harvard Law School . My brother Carlos and my twin sister Mary are the first brother and sister in history to serve together on the federal bench. And I feel blessed that my parents were able to see me at work in the West Wing of the White House.

      But we would not be where we are today if we had not received a solid education. One of my proudest moments as a Kansan was when our state Legislature extended this opportunity to all and passed a law in 2004 which gave all students — including immigrants — who meet in-state admission requirements the chance to pay in-state tuition rates, making it possible for them to attend our excellent colleges and universities.

      Since that time two years ago, when community organizations, teachers, students, faith organizations, and other leaders — including my alma mater, Kansas University — worked together to help pass this measure, 221 students who otherwise never would have gone to college have enrolled in a Kansas school of higher education. The law allowing these kids to pay in-state tuition rates puts a college education within financial reach for them. They are on the path to citizenship, and this law has helped to ensure that, once they get there, they will contribute to our home state in many ways — through their work, taxes, civic participation, and innovation.

      But these students may not achieve their dream of possibly becoming the first in their families to earn a college degree if an attempt by State Rep. Becky Hutchins, R-Holton, to repeal the in-state tuition law is successful. They may never get the chance to give back to the communities, churches, schools and families that encouraged their dreams of college.

      In Kansas , we know better than to waste young talent, but Rep. Hutchins appears determined to fix what is not broken. The law has survived a federal district court challenge and the bill was just defeated by the Legislature’s Federal and State Affairs Committee. But this has not deterred Rep.Hutchins; she has promised to re-introduce the bill or propose it as an amendment.

      If this legislator is successful, she will pull out a thread that is woven into the very fabric of community life in Kansas . This legislation to allow in-state tuition for all students who meet in-state tuition requirements was passed after careful consideration and discussion by the state Legislature, including those legislators in the western part of the state who see the hard work that the parents of these students are doing every day to sustain our Kansas economy. Many other voices were heard from throughout the state, including the Kansas Board of Regents, showing tremendous leadership in advancing a policy of investing in our future and motivating our young people to invest in themselves.

      This policy has showcased the common sense for which Kansas is famous. I have watched with pride as the example set by the 221 Kansas students has encouraged others to strive for success, both within our Kansas classrooms and around the nation. Our efforts to ensure that students can pursue a higher education and make the most of their potential have put Kansas in the lead for other states that are examining ways to support the higher educational dreams of our best and brightest immigrant students.

      I know that, without Kansas and the support my family received from our community and our first-class schools, I would not be in the position I am today. I have to believe that these immigrant students, who are just as proud to call Kansas home as I am, will be in our colleges at this time next year, still working hard to make our great state greater.

      And I expect to be proud, once again, when the Legislature rejects every attempt to repeal the Kansas in-state tuition law. I know that my state will refuse to undermine children who dream of making something of themselves, the same dream that my brothers and sisters and I shared under those big Kansas skies.

      Janet Murguía is president and CEO of the National Council of La Raza, the largest national Hispanic advocacy organization in the United States . She is a graduate of Kansas University where she served as executive vice chancellor before taking her current post.