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"In this country, we have to let every child -- it doesn't matter if they are documented or undocumented -- live the American dream and have a chance to go to college," Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said yesterday on a tour of Bruce Randolph School with Michael Bennet, the former Denver Public Schools superintendent, who didn't get the secretary's job but instead became a U.S. Senator.
Duncan was responding to a question from a high schooler, who wanted to know why children of immigrants who've lived in Colorado most of their lives have to pay out-of-state tuition in Colorado colleges. Give that student an "A."
Duncan also gets extra-credit for the timing of his tour. The Colorado Senate had just defeated SB 170, which would have allowed illegal immigrants who've attended high school in Colorado for at least three years and graduated from a Colorado high school (or gotten a GED here) -- and also signed on to gain citizenship -- to pay in-state tuition at state schools. And even as lawmakers deal with the repercussions of that decision, they're wrestling with how to keep higher education funded in an increasingly bleak state budget.
But the economy was no reason to defeat SB 170. Because the cost to Colorado of implementing that law would have been small, and the long-term payoff would have been big. Every child deserves the chance to live the American dream -- even those who were brought here to live through no choice of their own.