Immigration and Education

Immigration stories are dominating the headlines these days. Over at the BAM! Radio Network, dear ol Eduflack takes a look at two of the many issues we should consider when it comes to the education aspects of the debate.

Here, we explore whether schools should be working with ICE on determining the citizenship of their students.

And here, we ponder why we aren’t hearing from EdSec Betsy DeVos and the US Department of Education on their obligations to educate those children currently detained at the border.

Give both a listen. Let me know what you think.

Educators as Immigration Agents

We ask a great deal of teachers these days, particularity as we look to move more of the educational decisionmaking away from Washington, DC and into our local communities. But of all we ask of teachers, do we really expect them to start acting as immigration agents? Do we really want them to be ferreting out which students in their classes are undocumented?

And do we want to strip away the classroom as the one place kids can feel safe? Do we want to turn our public schools into a place where youth feel at risk, worried about whether they will see their families again?

We explore the topic on the latest episode of TrumpEd on the BAM! Radio Network. Give it a listen!

Another Reminder to Learn Our History

And for those who think this lacking grasp on American history is limited to those writing on the right-hand side of our historical ledger, one only needs to look at recent responses from the left on what needs to be done to get rid of President Donald J. Trump to understand that a broader understanding and appreciation of American civics is needed by all comers.

From dear ol’ Eduflack’s latest commentary on Medium, exploring recent rhetoric on removing President Donald Trump, rhetoric that flies in the face of everything on which the United States is built

Immigration Lessons, Third Grade Edition

The edu-daughter is learning about immigration this month in her third-grade class. Before things even got started, we made sure she realized she was, herself, an immigrant. She arrived in this country at 13 months old from Guatemala. She was sworn in as a baby U.S. citizen in the basement of the Bush Airport in Houston.

For whatever reason, she has really taken to this focus on immigration. Over the weekend, the edu-daughter went to work on her personal white board to write up what she has learned so far about immigration. (She then asked if we could text the picture to her teacher, so she could see what she was up to.)

IMG_2156

My first thought, after reading her notes, was that she is learning about immigration via The Godfather Part 2. There is a rising sense of pride that she sees immigration as Vito Corleone did as he arrived on our shores.

But after further reflection, I was even more proud with how she has jumped into this lesson and how she is not reflecting any of the ugliness that we see on the topic of immigration in the mainstream media these days. It would be very easy for a child, particularly a brown child, to realize that when they talk about “those people” coming into our country and us needing to send them back home, that some of those people carry the same blood and look just like she does. But she’s not seeing that.

One of these weekends, we need to make a trip to Ellis Island. I want to show her where the Finellis and the Perones on my side of the family came into the country. Sadly, the Ricciardellis didn’t come in through Lady Liberty, they arrived via Boston. But there is enough family history on Ellis Island for her to get a sense of things and better understanding of how this country came to be and on whom this country is truly built.

 

 

Self-Awareness on “Majority-Minority Districts”

In recent weeks, there has been significant chatter about the shift in P-12 school demographics across the United States. In this Education Week piece, reporter Lesli Maxwell notes:

America’s public schools are on the cusp of a new demographic era.

This fall, for the first time, the overall number of Latino, African-American, and Asian students in public K-12 classrooms is expected to surpass the number of non-Hispanic whites.

The new collective majority of minority schoolchildren—projected to be 50.3 percent by the National Center for Education Statistics—is driven largely by dramatic growth in the Latino population and a decline in the white population, and, to a lesser degree, by a steady rise in the number of Asian-Americans. African-American growth has been mostly flat.

These shifts have results in folks talking about “majority-minority districts,” those school districts where the number of white students is less than the number of minority students. Of course, such a concept is nothing new. We have long had districts that were majority African American or majority Latino or majority Asian-American. But the rapid shift of some districts, going from majority white to majority minority is sure to catch folks’ eye.

Why does Eduflack raise this? Because of personal realization. Last evening, the edu-wife and I headed over to our local school for a “new parents orientation.” It was a great event. The teachers and administrators who led the event were top notch. The orientation went as scheduled, with nothing taking them off track., And for a welcome for district-wide new parents in the middle of August, the school auditorium was almost standing-room only, with most families represented by both parents.

And then there was the parents themselves. In a sea of parents, the edu-wife and I were one of only a handful of parents who were not of color. I may have missed a few, but it seemed there were maybe five or six other parental sets that looked like us. There is no question we had moved into a “majority-minority” district.

We picked the town because of the schools. Great schools. Experienced teachers. Strong attention on the whole child. A running list of services and opportunities to ensure our kids get the best public education possible (particularly important in a house with a struggling reader).

Out of curiosity, I checked out the demographics this morning. We live in a community that, as a whole, is about 55 percent white. Last year, 33 percent of the student population was white, representing a major shift in resident demographics over the past two decades.

Then I dove a little deeper into the student demographics. Minority students comprised 70.6 percent of last year’s first grade class. And 75.5 percent of last year’s kindergarten class. And 87.8 percent of last year’s preK class.

So why write about this on this little ol’ blog? No, it isn’t that I am just waking up to demographic shifts in our country. As the father of two Latino students, it is something I am well aware of. 

The real answer is we need to get to the point where we stop thinking about majority-majority and majority-minority school districts. What I saw last evening, and what I have seen in countless schools where I’ve visited or observed, is that this is America. Our schools are now the melting pot that our Founders envisioned. They are where stereotypes can be broken .., or reinforced. They are where opportunity can be found, regardless of race or family income.

I’m proud that my two kiddos are now going to be a part of that educational quilt. They will meet kids from backgrounds they know nothing about (there are more than 45 languages spoken in our little ol’ district). They will be on the frontlines of that new demographic area. And it will seem completely normal to them.