Deans, students lobby legislators for Cal Grants in Sacramento

By Michelle Nosratian

This year, Upper School Dean Rose-Ellen Racanelli took fellow dean Vanna Cairns and juniors Daniel Rothberg and Brian Shultz to Sacramento to lobby for Cal Grant funding for the Western Association for College Admission Counseling legislative conference Feb. 3 and 4.

The WACAC legislative assembly on Cal Grants coincided with a caucus about the Dream Act, Rothberg said. The Dream Act “provides a pathway for undocumented students to attend college with financial assistance — and after meeting some requirements would allow them to pursue permanent residence status and ultimately gain citizenship,” Racanelli said.

On the second day, “we split into groups and went to the offices of legislators and lobbied,” Rothberg said.

The delegation met with the aides of three different state legislators: Assembly Member Tom Ammiano, Senator Dave Cox and Assembly Member Mike Eng. The meetings were followed by a de-briefing session, which “gave us an idea whether the representative would support our initiatives,” Racanelli said.

“This year WACAC had two legislative priorities: to support and protect ongoing funding for the Cal Grant Program and to maintain sufficient funding for California higher education,” Racanelli said. “Without the Cal Grant, many of our neediest students in the state would be unable to get a college education—which means the state would have less educated workers, and realize a widening divide between the rich and poor.”

Racanelli asked other deans to suggest students who were juniors and also had an interest in politics in the hope that they could possibly organize something on campus next year.

“Our goals of acquainting the representative with our priorities were met.  I believe they will also look to WACAC for input on educational legislation,” she said. “My goal was met in having students included in the conference. I hope to expand the number of students who will attend from a variety of high schools next year.”