by Max Brantley
Gov. Mike Beebe, staying to the right of the dark forces of Arkansas, has made sure that no Arkansas college is allowed to treat all long-time Arkansas residents and Arkansas high school grduates the same as it treats a lucky sperm club member from Highland Park, Texas, when it comes to tuition at the University of Arkansas. The Texans gets the cheaper rate. A fictional Maria Garcia, student in Springdale schools since first grade with a shining academic record? She pays extra if she can't prove citizenship or produce the right papers, though her family has contributed far more to UA finances than Worthington P. Gotrocks of Dallas.
The pursuit of fairness on in-state tuition — never mind scholarship aid — would cost very little but say so much about our hearts (to borrow from Rick Perry). In huge California, where 1,941 immigrant students received in-state tuition the last time numbers were compiled, only about 300 were not U.S. citizens or otherwise "documented" to be in the country legally. That means Arkansas would be looking at helping maybe a few dozen of its residents should it extend in-state tuition to all with Arkansas high school diplomas and sufficient state residency.
A better course than state efforts would be the proposed federal DREAM Act, with its path to citizenship for immigrants who can prove their education progress. Tea Party Republicans, and many Democrats, have been resistant.