Lesniak and Tello Call for Education Equality
Giancarlo Tello was born in 1990 in Lima Peru. When he was 6 years old his parents decided to come to America. In high school Tello took a Driver's Ed class. He passed his written exam with flying colors. Giancarlo had visions of a driver's license and the freedom of the open road. As an undocumented immigrant without a birth certificate or a social security number, those dreams never materialized.
Giancarlo was determined that another dream, his goal of attaining a college education, would not be differed. "You know what each of those college applications ask for?" said Tello, "a social security number." Undettered he researched his options and learned that despite his status he could still apply to college. He enrolled in a community college where he was charged international rates. He later transferred to Rutgers Newark where the cost for one 3-credit class is over $2,700 for Tello, classified as an international student despite his US residence.
Tello is 23 years old with fewer than 70 credits, far from attaining his dream. Tello and State Senator Raymond Lesniak are among the proponents of a bill that will enable undocumented New Jersey youth to pay in-state tuition. Tello and Lesniak spoke to a group of Kean University students on Tuesday about education equality and pathways to citizenship.
"Me llamo Senator Lesniak. Como esta usted," State Senator Raymond Lesniak greeted the crowd in Spanish. Lesniak went on to describe himself as "a big proponent of social justice reforms, marriage equality and a path to citizenship." "My story is different but similar," said Lesniak. "My parents came here from Poland. For me to go to college I had to go into the army."
Lesniak went on to describe education equality as good public policy. "From a public policy perspective it makes sense," he said. "Public education helps everyone, our entire society. It creates a better trained workforce and better paying jobs." Reaffirming his commitment to social reform Lesniak concluded by invoking Dr. Martin Luther King, "The curve of the university bends slowly but it always turns toward justice."