by Joe Guzzardi
When it comes to the DREAM Act, former California governor “Moonbeam” and current gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown is still in outer space.
Although it has been beaten back nearly a dozen times over the last decade, the DREAM Act is the proverbial bad penny that keeps turning up. Or, better said, it’s the bad penny that political candidates trolling for ethnic identity votes won’t let go of.
Brown, in his recent debate against his GOP gubernatorial rival Meg Whitman, pledged to an audience gathered at UCLA that one of his first priorities would be to ensure that every qualified student, “whether documented or not,” would be able to attend California universities. The carrot means that they would pay the same tuition rate as legal instate residents. According to Brown, California has “enough wealth” to make enrollment “for everyone” a possibility.
Then, barely audible over the cheering students and illegal immigrants in the crowd, Brown hedged his promise by saying that first he would have to “get the budget solved” and that “would take a couple of months.”
Brown’s logic is so tortured that it’s impossible to imagine that anyone other than the most starry-eyed, prospective illegal immigrant student could put any stock in his assurances.
Here’s some history about Brown, California’s education system and the state deficit.
In 1975, Brown’s first year as California’s governor, the state’s population was 21 million. Immigration and non-English speaking students were not a factor in California’s education system, then considered among the nation’s best.
Today, California’s population is rapidly approaching 40 million. Two families out of every five do not speak English at home.
A profile of California’s students, the broad audience to which Brown made his promises, shows that of 6.2 million enrolled in public schools, 1.5 million are English Language Learners. In some Los Angeles districts, non-English speaking students comprise over 70 percent of the schools’ enrollment.
California’s high school dropout rate, 20 percent, is the nation’s highest.
The large percentage of these students are, as Brown calls them, “undocumented”. Assuming that 500,000 non-English speaking students (of the 1.5 million English Language Learners (ELLs)) are “undocumented,” then by using $10,000 per student as the annual cost to educate them, California taxpayers are subsidizing illegal immigrant education to the tune of $5 billion per year.
On top of the $5 billion and despite California’s $19 billion budget deficit, Brown nevertheless proposes to extend further, costlier higher education benefits to illegal immigrants.
The magnitude of Brown’s folly cannot be quantified. Brown’s claim that California has “enough wealth” to fund university education for illegal aliens is crazy talk. Instead of pandering for Hispanic votes, Brown should tell the truth about California’s “budget deficit”.
California is bankrupt. Any private sector organization that runs billions in the red year after year while pretending to eliminate its debt with smoke and mirrors techniques would declare Chapter 11. A corporate chief executive who in the face of massive debt would dare to urge a billion dollar spending program on something as extraneous as illegal alien education would be summarily dismissed.
While Brown makes promises to illegal immigrants for education benefits he may not be able to deliver, in another corner of the state where the legal folks work, teachers, librarians, school nurses and staff support personnel have either been dismissed, furloughed or work under the constant threat of unemployment.
As usual, and especially when it comes to taxpayer funded education for illegal aliens, politicians are of one mind and the voters of another. According to a new Christian Science Monitor/TIPP support for allowing undocumented college students to qualify for federal or state education grants is just 18 percent.
California voters are unpredictable. But Brown’s incoherent UCLA speech may have left a sour taste among the crucial undecided electorate.