HOUSE HIGHER ED HEARS PROP. 2 PROPOSED CHANGES
On Tuesday, House committee members dealing with higher education
funding heard that some of their budget items would undoubtedly need
word changes based on Proposal 2006-2, while another program - funding
for Indian college students - spurred controversy over whether it is
legal under the constitutional amendment, which bans racial
Civil Rights Director Linda Parker told the House Appropriations Higher
Education Subcommittee that while the report last week found that
programs that seek to attract black or women students would need some
rewording to make them legal, the Michigan Indian Tuition Waiver program
is still legal because it has political roots based on treaties, instead
of relying on race or ethnicity.
Rep. David Agema (R-Grandville) disagreed, saying that he thinks that
based on other states' legal history, it would be best to get an
attorney general opinion on the matter.
Allie Greenleaf Maldonado, assistant general legal counsel for the
Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians, said that without the waiver
program, she never would have attended the University of Michigan and
had the opportunity to become a force for change and improvement in her
She asked the committee to not only keep the funding, but to adopt an
annual review process of how many registered tribal members attend each
school so that funding is dispersed according to attendance.
Right now, Ms. Maldonado said, funding stays set at steady levels
adopted in the mid-1990's and leaves some schools over funded, while
others who have higher levels of native students get too little
Rep. Gary McDowell (D-Rudyard), said that he supports the change and
retaining the funding because he has seen the huge impact education has
had on the native community.
"I have seen a massive improvement in the quality of life for Indian
people and the tuition grant is a big part of that," he said.
Some of the programs outlined that will need rewording according to the
Civil Rights Commission are the Morris Hood Jr., Future Educators and
Visiting Professors programs, which the commission said all appear to
exclude some people by seeking to attract minorities.
Ms. Parker noted, however, that the College Day program, which the
report outlined as an unlawful program under the proposal, the
commission now says is legal since it actually ties to federal funds
that determine eligibility by income.
The information about federal funding wasn't available at the time the
report was published, she said.