After they endorsed anti-cheating measures and the state's bid for a No Child Left Behind waiver, the Board of Regents turned yesterday to a different policy issue: the plight of students whose families came to the country illegally.
As part of their 2012 legislative agenda, the Regents voted to support the federal Development, Relief, and Education Act for Minors. The DREAM Act, which failed in the U.S. Senate last year, would clear a path toward citizenship for high school graduates whose families are in the country illegally. The act would benefit nearly 350,000 students statewide, many in New York City, by making them able to work legally and get financial aid for college.
Today, Board of Regents Chancellor and State Education Commissioner John King sent a letter to New York's congressional delegation, urging them to back the DREAM Act when it comes before them during the next legislative session.
The Regents' endorsement didn't come without question. Roger Tilles, a Regent who in the past cast one of just three "no" votes against letting test scores count more in teacher evaluations, initially questioned the wisdom of weighing in on the issue. He said the political consequences of taking a stand on immigration could alienate groups that prioritize other education policies. He did not say what those groups could be.
Tisch responded to Tilles with a personal appeal.