The House version of the bill to grant in-state college tuition status to D.C. citizens, introduced by Rep. Tom Davis, has recently been adopted by the Senate, and the bill is progressing toward passage [front page, May 25].
Should we celebrate? Not yet, because the ugly notion of "means-testing" is likely to be used as a way to divide funds if more people apply for funding than money is available. If your family income reaches $80,000 -- a figure that has come up in Senate debate -- sorry, your children won't be eligible. With "means-testing," you'll be living in the "old" District again, where every public college in the nation will require you to pay out-of-state tuition -- 50 percent to 100 percent more -- this time because you earn too much.
To make the injustice as plain as possible, let's turn it around. "From this day forward, no family in any state will receive in-state tuition at their public universities if family earnings reach $80,000 per year. Instead, such families will pay out-of-state tuition rates."
"Means-testing" breaks faith with the fundamental tenet that publicly funded universities are for everyone. To impose income-testing on the families of the District would be cruel and strange punishment and a disturbing new interpretation of who constitutes "the public."
"Means-testing" will bring real mischief to the District. At this critical juncture in our city's history, we are striving to come together. We have been Balkanized for too long, and we are searching for tools to help us build our community. "Means-testing" is a sure way to create different categories of D.C. residents. That is not what we want.
Members of Congress should give us what we so plainly deserve. We are not raising the deep issue of statehood here, only the same right to an affordable college education that their constituents have enjoyed for many, many decades.