Five Predictions about Hispanics in Higher Education in 2023
Peggy Sands Orchowski |
Here are five predictions about Congress and Hispanics in Higher Education in 2023.
2022 was the year of trying to get back to normal after two traumatic years of campus shutdowns, mask-ups, remote studies, and then the anxiety of figuring out how much to come back. At about midyear on Capitol Hill, elected Congressional representatives and Senators, their staffs, advisors and press members were allowed to meet without wearing masks. But remote voting (a never-heard-of allowance before) was still permitted in the House, and lobbyists and constituents were still not allowed to enter the office buildings and the Capitol (except the official Congressional Visitors Center) without an appointment and a congressional staff escort.
Still, politics happened. Some bills were passed. The midterm elections for the 118th Congress were carried out. By the end of the year, the almost wholly unpredicted results were being faced: a Senate with officially 48 Democrats and three Independents who are expected to vote regularly Democratic; and 49 Republicans-- giving a possible two-three vote majority to Democrats in the Senate. In the House, the results at year’s end showed 222 Republicans and 212 Democrats -- with a special election on Feb, 21 in Virginia to decide the last (the 435th) seat. This is almost the same margin Democrats had over Republicans in the 117th Congress, 223 over 213 --a margin of five votes over the majority 218 - that Democrats used to demand huge mandates. The inevitable conclusion in Congress for 2023-4 is: with such close margins, nothing significant will become law without compromise in the House and the Senate.
1. Student Loan Forgiveness: Last August, President Joe Biden announced that federal student loan borrowers earning less than $125,000 annually (or $250,000 if filing taxes jointly) would be eligible for $10,000 in loan forgiveness. But this was controversial, and bipartisan supporters and opponents have lined up their arguments for court hearings in the new year. In the meantime, Education Secretary Miguel Cardona sent out a letter to tens of thousands of student loan borrowers: “Your application is complete and approved, and we will discharge your approved debt ….. if and when we prevail in court.”
2. DACA/DREAMERS: It looks likely that in 2023 the Supreme Court will decide to end former President Obama’s 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Then Congress will face pressure from both sides of the aisle to create a “Dream Act” law that will offer expedited access to a green card for at least those undocumented immigrants (maybe around 500,000) who were brought into the US by their parents at an early age and who attended school here (some say at least ten years). Senate Leader Schumer’s 2019 Dream Act proposal that would give 2-4 million unauthorized immigrants “who came into the country (legally or illegally) before the age of 18 and have lived here at least four years,” probably will not prevail.
3. College Rankings: “Are the U.S. News College Rankings Finally Going to Die?” a New York Times op ed read on November 7. “I sure hope so,” wrote the author Colin Diver, a former dean of the University of Pennsylvania Law School and Reed College. “Since their emergence in 1983, the U.S. News college rankings have grown into a huge juggernaut,” he explained. Several Ivy League schools that always rank on the list’s top have decided to withdraw from the list that has until recently been considered the best available measure of institutional performance that parents of prospective students and donors can refer tWo.W But top ranked prestigious colleges like Harvard and Yale now express concern that the formula used by U.S. News rewards wealth and privilege and makes it increasingly difficult to achieve racial diversity. (Some say they also do not want their admissions’ data to be judged according to racial discrimination patterns that the Supreme Court is now considering). Without the ranking, the schools will be free to create their own marketing based on their unique missions, notes Diver.
4. Going to College: There is no doubt that COVID-19 restrictions impacted the entire way of doing college from 2019-2022 just at a time when the traditional model of ‘four years of college just after high school graduation’ was being challenged across the country. Many predict that starting in the fall of 2023, there will be an across-the-board spectrum of options for getting a college degree ranging from the traditional 4 years of college option followed by two years of grad school with summer jobs; to gap years with internships, apprenticeships, work study, certificate programs and entrepreneur support grants. It will be an exciting time, as well as an exasperating one, as students, parents, educational institutions, businesses, government and non-governmental organizations collaborate and compete to offer credible and customized post-secondary educational options for all ages and stages of Americans. And it could be that Latinos - the fastest growing but also the fastest assimilating identity group in America - lead and drive the way to new models of integrating study, work, family and aspirations.
5. Hispanics Lawmakers: A new record of at least 45 Hispanic-heritage lawmakers will serve in the 118th Congress as counted mid-December: 34 are Democrats and at least 11 are Republicans “We have a lot of Latino members here who won, and not in majority Latino districts,” said Rep. Ruben Gallego, chair of BOLD PAC, the political arm of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. About 33 percent of Hispanic voters cast ballots for Republicans in the 2022 midterms – not the surge predicted by media pundits prior to the election, but a solid increase that may have enabled Republicans to win the majority back in the House of Representatives. There has been some question in the past as to whether the Democratic-dominated Congressional Hispanic Caucus in the House would admit Republican members, but as Congressional Republicans’ numbers grew, there is a movement among some GOP members to form a Republican-dominated “Congressional Hispanic Conference.” •