By Folabi Olagbaju
As an immigrant who benefited from America’s system of higher education, I fully understand and appreciate the importance of advanced learning when it comes to people improving their personal circumstances and becoming productive members of their communities.
This is why I support the Maryland DREAM Act, and hope that everyone will back the DREAM Act by voting “for” Question 4 on the November 6 ballot.
I didn’t benefit from in-state tuition in my studies, since I was doing post-graduate work. Nevertheless, it’s clear to me that allowing bright young people, documented or not, an equal shot at education is both fair and key to boosting Maryland’s economic success. That’s why I was excited when LIRS asked me to help mobilize Maryland’s Lutheran congregation members to support the DREAM Act and vote “for” Question 4 in November.
Doing this job well means clearing up a lot of misconceptions. Since 2011, when state legislators passed the Maryland In-State Tuition Act (aka the DREAM Act) the foes of the act have come up with many unsubstantiated arguments for opposing it. LIRS has debunked those myths here.
Furthermore, a recent report by the Maryland Institute for Policy Analysis and Research at the University of Maryland has provided a state-specific analysis of why the DREAM Act will be a win/win for young aspiring people and Maryland. The report notes that DREAMers are highly educated and represent a potentially high income earning social group. Investment in them today can yield high payoff tomorrow in terms of meeting Maryland’s critical workforce needs. Specifically, the report estimates that the act would add approximately $66 million per year to the state economy — and this was a conservative estimate.
At the end of the day, this is not just about the economics of investing in our youth. Providing equal access to quality higher education is an effective antidote to many of the social ills that affect our communities. When aspiring young people see a bright future ahead of them, they are more likely to stay in school, graduate, and become productive members of the community.
For more information about the Maryland DREAM Act and the November 6 referendum, please visit http://blog.lirs.org/dream.