Sacramento, CA – More than one in three Native American kids live in poverty, and 22 percent ages 25 and older have not finished high school, the lowest of any racial/ethnic demographic group across all schools. Only 13 percent of Native Americans have completed a bachelor’s degree or higher, compared to 29 percent of the US population.
In response, Senator Mike McGuire has successfully advanced a bill that takes this issue head on and provides priority registration at California Community Colleges to Native American students who live in poverty and are enrolled in CalWORKS known as the Tribal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program (Tribal TANF for short).
In 2013, California leaders granted some of California’s poorest students (CalWORKS recipients) priority registration at California Community Colleges. Providing easier access to community college will help lift low income families and kids out of poverty if they have the opportunity to enroll into college or career training programs. Priority registration leads to faster degree and certificate completion, more flexibility to balance work schedules and family responsibilities, and a supportive college environment. However, students receiving Tribal TANF were not granted that same priority registration.
“Despite the highest poverty and lowest education attainment levels in California, the poorest Native American students were never granted priority registration to community colleges,” said Senator Mike McGuire. “Education is one of the best tools to lift folks out of poverty and Native American students deserve fast and easy access to community college just like everyone else.”
California currently provides priority registration for veterans, disabled students, homeless, foster youth, and CalWORKS recipients. Native American students who are on CalWORKS were never granted this same access.
SB 164 removes a significant barrier to breaking out of poverty through higher education by ensuring that all TANF/CalWORKS students receive the benefit of priority registration.
SB 164 was approved by a unanimous, bipartisan vote in the Assembly Higher Education Committee Tuesday afternoon.
The bill will now move to the Assembly Appropriations Committee before heading to the Assembly floor for a full vote.