California Dream Act awaits governor’s signature

College-bound California high school students who are in the United States illegally will soon be eligible for taxpayer-funded financial aid if the governor signs AB 131, a bill known as the California Dream Act. (Read the full text of the most recent version of the bill here.)

The New York Times reported that this bill, if passed, would give illegal immigrants more education benefits than any other state. A Sacramento Bee story said the bill is estimated to cost California $23 million to $40 million a year. According to the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office, California college students receive about $3.34 billion in state-supported financial aid each year.

Only students who have attended three or more years of high school in California would benefit from this law. One provision of the bill states that illegal immigrant students seeking a competitive Cal Grant (there are various kinds, and there are fewer competitive grants) would only be eligible after legal residents receive their funds. Another section says “The number of financial aid awards received by California resident students from financial aid programs administered by the segments shall not be diminished …”

Recent amendments to the bill pushed back the implementation date to January 2013 and specified that it would not apply to students who graduate from adult schools or technical schools.

Should Gov. Brown sign AB 131? Do you know students who would have gone to college if they qualified for state-funded scholarships? If you have an opinion on this subject you’d like to share, email me at kmurphy@bayareanewsgroup.com.

Katy Murphy

Education reporter for the Oakland Tribune. Contact me at kmurphy@bayareanewsgroup.com.

  • aly

    having worked with a great number of students who were brilliant and should have been going to college but couldn’t due to lack of finances and status in the country, i am thrilled. children cannot be held responsible for the actions of their parents, and the kids that work hard to earn a spot in college deserve just as much of a chance as students who were born in california. while i know so many students who would have benefited (and been a greater benefit to society!) as a result of this bill 6 years ago, this is definitely better late than never.

    now it’s just time to educate people to prevent misinformation- it takes from native kids! middle class students will lose out on spots to “illegals”!- from taking over. thank you, katy, for including some of that information here, albeit briefly. a more in-depth piece on the impact of AB 131 on all california students would be greatly appreciated.

  • hmmmmmm

    Will this attract more illegals to California causing an already tough situation to get worse?
    It seems like a “nice” thing to do, but can the state afford it?
    All parents want their children’s lives to be better than theirs. Won’t this encourage a possible stream of illegals seeking that for their children? And do not we owe that to the children of people who are here legally?
    I for one just cannot see the state increasing the tax burden on its citizens when so many are struggling.

  • J.R.

    Once again,
    Politicians frittering away money(that isn’t theirs, and we are short on), with questionable benefit to this country and it’s people. It is just too easy to give away other peoples money, and that is a sad fact(I bet our taxes will be raised on top of this as well).

  • Sue

    I have very mixed feelings.

    “A mind is a terrible thing to waste” seems very appropriate here, even though it’s a phrase originated for the benefit of a different minority group.

    My problem is that I’m paying for my kid to go to college. And he’s doing great! He’ll be starting his sophomore year in a couple of weeks. We just got his grades for the summer classes he took, and his freshman GPA is now 3.9. But… yes, of course, there has to be a “but”.

    A) our family’s income is too high for him to qualify for any grants of any kind. All we can get is student loans.

    B) my son has autism (high functioning, obviously). He’s in a pilot program with all the necessary supports for students with ASD (autism spectrum disorders), and we’re paying for it – approximately *triple* his tuition. CSU’s are fine colleges, but we’re paying close to Ivy League costs.

    C) we never expected our (brilliant, but severely challenged) young man to graduate from high school, let alone get into a 4-year university – and yes, he met all the regular admission requirements, just like all students must – so we never planned or saved for his college education.

    D) there are no guarantees that he’ll be able to get, or hold, a job after graduation. He may still be unemployable even with his college degree.

    E) if he takes out student loans, but can’t keep a job when it’s time, he’ll default. If he’s in default on student loans, that may/will impact his eligibility for Social Security Disability.

    He deserves a chance to become a productive, contributing member of society, and we believe his college experiences, especially the supports from his program, give him the best possible chance of getting there.

    Every student deserves their chance. I just wonder how long it will take until the state realizes that there are more and more intelligent, but challenged, ASD kids graduating from high school, and decides they need their own “Dream Act” too. Probably wa-a-a-ay too late to help my son and his peers.

    This “Dream Act” takes nothing away from my son, it just makes me envious.

  • J.R.

    I know exactly how you feel, my son is Autistic and since he is mainstreamed(Jr.High) he gets no extra help(due to the budget crunch)We accept this, and get him alternative assistance. The line has to be drawn, but these politicians ignore us anyway. We don’t have assistance for tax paying US citizens, but we have it for those who aren’t. There is something very,very wrong here.

  • A_voice_from_SPED

    I’m genuinely sympathetic to the challenges you must face as you raise your wonderful boy (and I mean that absolutely sincerely: I’m a special education teacher and it’s a privilege to be a small part of the lives of children and families touched by ASD). However, I honestly don’t think it’s a reality that ed services to K-12 students on the spectrum have been curtailed because of the budget crunch.

    IDEA, as it plays out in Oakland at least, actually protects kids with special needs from many of the worst effects of our current budget crisis: school folks CANNOT sit around a table and talk about cost as a factor in what a child gets. Maybe that’s its own problem. It definitely makes for some awful transitions when kids age out, as Sue notes.

    But it’s a genuine straw man to say that junior high children with autism are being denied services so that more stuff can go to folks without papers.

  • J.R.

    A voice,
    I have been specifically told point blank “these services are severely curtailed due to lack of funding”, and yet we find money to educate non-citizens? How is that a straw man argument. It does not matter which bucket of money this or that comes from because it all originates in the wallets of the tax payers. That is the truth.

  • Nextset

    It’s Treason, people. Plain and simple.

  • J.R.

    A little OT speaking of treason……. I have something very interesting for you to peruse about the California budgetary system: take LAUSD for example, and it’s school bond funding. I am sure you are aware the outrageous 1/2 billion dollar high school, and the school that was built but can’t be used because of toxic land. Are you aware when districts float a school bond, that all California taxpayers are responsible and liable for matching the amount of the bond and interest dollar for dollar(effectively doubling the size of the bond)?


  • Sue

    This is so very far off topic…

    Two tips for JR – these worked for our family getting services for our son:

    First – always, always, always record every IEP meeting. You have the right to do this, and you only have to give the district 24-hours written notice that you intend to bring a recording device.

    When our family started doing this, we were amazed by the changes to our IEP meetings. Nobody lied to us anymore, nobody walked out of meetings on us anymore, the conflicts and friction and adversarial nature of the meetings completely changed and everyone was focused on how we were going to meet our son’s needs. It really was stunning.

    Second tip – whenever the costs come up in discussion, say this: “I understand that the services my child needs are expensive, and I’m confident that the district will find the necessary funding to be in compliance with state and federal education law.”

    I probably only used that sentence two or three times during our son’s 14 years in OUSD, and I only wish I’d discovered it sooner than I did. The district must provide the necessary services for a child’s disability, and “no money” is not a valid reason for failing to do so. That’s the law. Use it to your kid’s advantage. And good luck to you and your family.

    With apologies to everyone for this off-topic interruption.

  • J.R.

    I put OT for a reason(it was related via the issue of governmental waste,fraud and abuse of taxpayer money). Back on topic, there are ways of using loopholes in the law to deny services, such as DX’ing a child with Aspergers syndrome rather than autism. If you read state law, an Autistic child is eligible for a wide array of services whereas an Aspergers is not. There have been many children classified by the medical profession as Autistic, and were later dx’ed by the school district as Aspergers for what I believe are monetary reasons alone. These two conditions are very similar with the main difference being speech delay, which is curiously being re-dx’ed years after the fact. I have seen this far too many times for it to be coincidence. The law is the law, but there are loopholes in any law to flaunt if that is ones desire.

  • Sue

    Yep, very true J.R.

    We were “lucky” (I suppose) that our son’s language delay was pretty severe and obvious from his first evaluation when he was four. He was in Communication Handicapped (CH) Special Day Classes (SDC) from preschool through 3rd grade, so the district couldn’t even attempt to play those games with us.

    On the other hand, the district had (and I hope still has) the Autism Spectrum Inclusion Program (ASIP) which our boy was in from the first year it existed in the district, when he was a 5th grader. He thrived, and our family is still good friends with several families that we met because their kids were also ASIP students. Our son may have been the only kid with an autism diagnosis – anyway, as far as I knew, ASIP was serving mostly Aspergers diagnosed students. Last I knew it was offered at Montera and at least one or two other district middle schools, as well as Skyline and Met West high schools.

    So, the district has a long history of providing services for Aspies as well as auties. And in the past, at least, they were doing a very good job of it. I’m sorry that’s not your experience now, but I hope something I’ve said here will give you a way to make improvements.

    And now I really am going away, and not contributing any more OT comments.

  • Nextset

    J.R.: Despite my complaining I wish CA secondary school students had schools to go to as nice as the public schools I used. I think public education, when properly done is, important in getting that common experience and history our state population needs to function well as a society. It’s really great when everyone has had the same class teaching you that a red light means stop, and what the right of way rules are. We all use the public roads.

    Those days are gone and we have the “Brave New World” where we are sorted at birth to completely different hospitals, stores, schools, neighborhoods, playmates, occupations and sex partners – so that like associates only with like. Social mobility is no longer a feature around this state. We used to be vastly more socially mobile in CA.

    The democrats using public money to support illegal alien invaders is just one more nail in the coffin of public education. They are continuing to estrange the tax base and the decent society – the productive society of people who were born here and are citizens – from the public schools K through University. It’s not just one thing, it’s a barrage of counterculture liberal anti-American, pro 3rd worlder, pro socialist measures that taken together keep the Brave New World going. Good luck getting any taxpayer support for your K-Univ public schools.

    Once the productive class is made to feel that these “schools” no longer are identified with the society they live in, they will vote against school funding and stop hiring the products of these “schools” to the extent they haven’t done so already.

    Instead they can identify with Hillsdale College, BYU, And who knows what other schools. And it’s only a matter of time before these colleges move into High Schooling – if the Charters don’t beat them to it.

    It is not a good idea for us as a society in the long run for this Brave New World to continue and grow. But I can see it happening in my lifetime already.

    There is a price to pay for liberals winning their way on policy in CA and the USA. Disintegration is that price. So much for diversity being the true goal of all this liberal policy. That’s a con. The real goal is power and domination over those that produce by those that don’t and their politicians.

    Foreigners should look toward church schools and private schools for K-univ. And/or have their countries educate them.

  • Nextset

    Take that “sex partner” reference as rhetoric. But think of old English society where the different classes really couldn’t be seen talking to each other on a social basis without trouble on both sides. The class distinction was enforced by language and mores and was rigid and fixed. This is what we’re working on here.

    Not so in 1950-1960 where the children of labor went to the same schools with the children of professionals and capitalists. And competed if they wanted to in the same classes high and low. Bay Area High Schools such as El Cerrito High, Oakland Tech, Oakland High and the like accommodated everyone and imposed a uniform standard of deportment and basic studies. Your father could be a milkman or a UC instructor and everything in between.

    We have really lost something and the loss was done to accommodate keeping some people comfortable and never having to change their ways or to conform their behavior to the higher standards.

  • Don Honda

    The DREAM Act does take away from your autistic son. The State of California is billions of dollars in debt. Social Services for the disabled, aged, mentally disadvantaged have diminished. Parks, education, roads, etc have lost funding. So, you should be “envious” that ILLEGAL ALIENS would receive free State and Federal funds, Fee (tuition) waivers to receive a degree that they couldn’t use to obtain LEGAL employment. A Federal DREAM Act will not happen anytime soon and those who are in your position with a special needs child, but without your personal resources are just out of luck.

  • J.R.

    Envy has absolutely nothing to do with it(incensed is the word for it), there is a right way to do things, and a wrong way(and this act is the paragon of wrong). The dream act is a magnet and takes resources away from every true and legal citizen of this country. The citizens money should not be paying for non citizen’s, it’s really as simple as that. Our own money for our own problems has to be the main priority in these times(or any time really). The founders of this country wrote documents that stated that we have unalienable rights, but conversely we don’t have the right to happiness, just to the pursuit thereof(it’s called freedom of the individual).

  • J.R.

    Envy has absolutely nothing to do with it(incensed is the word for it), there is a right way to do things, and a wrong way(and this act is the paragon of wrong). The dream act is a magnet and takes resources away from every true and legal citizen of this country. The citizens money should not be paying for non citizen’s, it’s really as simple as that. Our own money for our own problems has to be the main priority in these times(or any time really). The founders of this country wrote documents that stated that we have unalienable rights, but conversely we don’t have the right to happiness, just to the pursuit thereof(it’s called freedom of the individual).

  • livegreen

    What makes it difficult for economic opponents of exponential service increases to illegal immigrants is that all proponents have to do is call anybody who disagrees with them racist. Even if you agree with them that immigration is fine, it just needs to be limited to be affordable. Yelling “racism” in a crowded theater makes great headlines in our simplistic sound bite media.

    So those of us who know the diminishing middle class has a limited but real responsibility in social programs we can pay for (based on our diminishing pocket books) will be ignored until we come up with some stupid short soundbite/phrase the ADD media will report.

    What are some potential sound bites we can call the all-or-nothing open border types? Maybe “economic sluts”? “Opponents of a Middle Class”?

  • Don Honda


    Very good point. The Middle Class is sleeping. Maybe pool monies and do marketing campaign showing Middle Class families living in poverty, working three jobs, in debt for paying health costs, three generations living under one roof with three bedrooms, etc, etc. It’s best not to run a negative campaign but to use sentimentality, identification, sob stories, then give something everyone can do now for five minutes that would be effective: email, write, phone government reps, not hire illegal aliens, not to use businesses that use illegal labor, etc. Then fight charges of ridiculous charges of racism, intolerance with stoic forbearance and repeat the message of how the Middle Class makes this nation, pays its bill and taxes, so that the Upper and Lower classes can have their entitlements.

    Kill the Middle Class and you kill the goose that lays the Golden Egg(s).