The press release below came into my inbox yesterday from a group advocating on behalf of the DREAM Act in Maryland, which goes to a referendum this November.
Today, dozens of students, teachers, faith leaders and members of civil rights and community organizations and labor unions joined prominent university president Freeman Hrabowski, president of University of Maryland, Baltimore County and Bishop Denis Madden, auxiliary bishop of the Catholic Archdiocese of Baltimore for the launch of Educating Maryland Kids, the coalition working to protect the Maryland DREAM Act. I am pleased to see a Catholic bishop taking such a forceful stance in support of this vital legislation. Here is the text of the release:
"I know the power of education to transform lives. Moreover, I know the power of telling a child that, 'Yes, we want you to get the best education possible,’” said Freeman A. Hrabowski, III, president of UMBC (The University of Maryland, Baltimore County). “Supporting our children is the American way and the right thing to do for many reasons. Most important, perhaps, it leads to a stronger and more prosperous America."
Educating Maryland Kids is comprised of faith-based, education, civil rights, and labor organizations including SEIU, the Maryland State Education Association, Maryland IAF, Maryland Catholic Conference, NAACP, and CASA de Maryland. The coalition is focusing on educating voters about the law, which ensures that Maryland students whose families pay Maryland taxes and who graduated from Maryland high schools can pay in-state tuition rates, regardless of immigration status. The Maryland DREAM Act faces a ballot referendum this November.
“Our support for the DREAM act is woven into the fabric of our history as both Catholics and Americans,” said Bishop Denis Madden, auxiliary bishop of the Catholic Archdiocese of Baltimore, who invoked the moral and religious imperative to support the Maryland DREAM Act.
“The Catholic Church in this country today stands proudly on the shoulders of immigrants who built our churches, built our schools, hospitals, and so many other institutions,” said Bishop Madden. “From the very beginning, we have understood the fundamental value of education, and we have always opened our doors to providing all children the best educational opportunity possible. In fact, some of our nation's earliest Catholic schools were founded right here in Baltimore to serve African American children at a time when it was illegal to do so in many places.”
Karina, a DREAM student from Silver Spring, MD, said, “My modern World History teacher at Montgomery Blair High School told me that I have always been a go-getter, that I inspire, mentor, and help other students.”
Karina went on to explain, “School is my sanctuary. With access to education, I will never stop learning and contributing more and more and more.” She is currently enrolled at Montgomery College and hopes to transfer to UMBC to study social work after finishing her first 2 years at Montgomery College.
“We are united by a belief that Maryland kids who work hard, graduate from high school and are accepted into a Maryland college deserve the chance to fulfill their dream,” said Merle Cuttitta, president of SEIU Local 500. “SEIU Local 500 members are privileged to see DREAMERS at every stage of their education. Our members are childcare providers and Head Start employees. They work in Montgomery County Public schools and they teach at Montgomery College and other college and universities in the region.”
Students like Karina, who yearn to pursue higher education and contribute to our state, were featured in web videos rolled out by Educating Maryland Kids over the past 2 weeks (http://educatingmarylandkids.org/i-am-a-dreamer/; http://educatingmarylandkids.org/higher-education/). To be eligible for the Maryland DREAM Act, students like Karina must not only graduate from a Maryland high school and pay Maryland taxes but they also must start at a community college and attend for 2 years or attain 60 credits before transferring to a four-year public college or university in the state. When they apply to a four-year institution, they’ll be considered in the pool with out-of-state applicants, so there is no competition between native-born Maryland students and DREAM Act students for spots.