Baltimore, MD- The Baltimore City Green Party will release a bold vision for achieving equity in higher education. The Maryland Higher Education Equity Act (MHEEA), will be one of the Party’s top objectives in the coming 2018 Maryland General Assembly session.
“This will be an important bill that seeks to achieve educational, racial, gender, immigrant, and environmental justice through a set of ten deep reforms of the University System of Maryland and the state’s network of community colleges,” said Joshua Harris, who is exploring a run for the Maryland House of Delegates in the 40th District as a Green. “Let’s build a bright future for our City and our state by centering equity in higher education,” he added.
The bill would enable tuition-free undergraduate education at all University System of Maryland (USM) institution and Maryland community college for any graduate of a high school in the state. Additionally, room, board, books, and graduate school tuition would be free for descendants of Maryland’s enslaved and indigenous peoples. “I am looking forward to seeing (Black) community leaders and public figures supporting [Historically Black Colleges and Universities] (HBCUs) in Maryland. The MHEEA bill is not only a chance to do so, but an opportunity to show unwavering support for ALL students enrolled in college across the state,” said Brandon Walker, a Coppin State University Urban Studies student and Ujima People’s Progress Party activist, in a written statement.
In addition to tuition-related provisions, MHEEA addresses serious shortcomings in how Maryland’s public colleges and universities interact with African Americans, Indigenous peoples, immigrants, women, the environment, and Historically Black Colleges and Universities within the USM.
MHEEA would make Maryland a national leader in sexual violence prevention by mandating a 1 credit class on the topic for all freshman, increasing funding for Title IX enforcement, and creating an independent state-level monitor to ensure schools' proactive compliance with federal and state law.
MHEEA would codify Judge Blake’s ruling ending the duplication of successful HBCU programs at Historically White Colleges and Universities within the USM.
MHEEA would make all USM and community colleges Immigration and Customs Enforcement non-compliant sanctuary campuses, allowing all students to learn free from the fear of deportation.
MHEEA would mandate all USM and community college presidents submit five and ten year plans for reaching specific sustainability goals.
The bill would be paid for with a Peace, Equity, and Green tax on military contractors, household incomes over $250,000, and major polluters. These industry and tax bracket groups, which have received numerous federal, state, and municipal tax cuts in recent years, would be asked to pay their fair share to achieve a more highly educated, less indebted, more efficient, innovative, and productive workforce in Maryland, making the state an international destination for startups and businesses. By pursuing equity in higher education, MHEEA aims to build community wealth across the state.