Today is the last day of Kwanzaa, when the principle of Imani, or faith, is celebrated. As an atheist, faith for me comes from a belief in the inherent goodness of people to respect and take care of one another, not from some fictitious character living up on high, pronouncing angry “judgement” down upon all the creatures below.

California Dream Act

This new year my home state of California has strengthened my faith in our culture, and in humanity, by passing the California Dream Act, which becomes law today. This intelligent new legislation allows for any academically qualified student, who has graduated from a California high school, to be able to receive financial aid to attend college in the state, regardless of their immigration status. According to U.S. News & World Report:

“When the California Dream Act goes into effect in 2013, about 2,500 undocumented college students will qualify for waivers, Cal Grants and other aid at a cost of $59.1 million, predicts the Department of Finance. That includes $15 million in community college fee waivers. 

That’s a small price to pay, argue advocates for expanded college access.

California’s economy will need a million more college graduates by 2025, says Audrey Dow, community affairs director of The Campaign for College Opportunity.”

 

Free College for Everyone?

Having an educated informed populace, capable of critical thinking, is always a good thing. Education is one of the few things that can help lift people out of poverty. I know this from first hand experience; and I would never have been able to attend college or grad school in California without substantial financial aid and assistance.

Beth over at one of our sister blogs, Insteading, just wrote about how some expensive colleges are now making many of their classes available for free online. This is most sensible; all education should be free, as it already is in most industrialized nations.

Anything that can be done to make education more accessible to as many people that want it is positive. But the fact that my home state has passed this progressive legislation in a climate of rabid right-wing anti-immigrant hysteria elsewhere in the nation is something truly profound. Please remember that we are all immigrants.