Schools Address Deportation Fears

Here’s a high-level update from the Washington Post about possible arrests and deportations of undocumented immigrants by ICE, and the ways districts are trying to manage the uncertainty. The takeaway: many districts are trying to reassure students and parents, but they’re quite limited in what they can do.

On the number of students and parents who may be affected:

Millions of U.S. children face growing uncertainty at home because of shifts in immigration policy. The Pew Research Center estimates 3.9 million schoolchildren had an unauthorized immigrant parent in 2014 — or 7.3 percent of all schoolchildren. About 725,000 of those children were unauthorized immigrants themselves.

On whether arrests can happen at schools:

Historically, ICE agents have avoided schools. A 2011 memo says they are barred from arresting or interviewing people at schools, churches, hospitals and other “sensitive locations,” unless there is an imminent threat or they seek approval. Carissa Cuttrell, a spokeswoman for ICE, said the Department of Homeland Security “is committed to ensuring that people seeking to participate in activities or utilize services provided at any sensitive location are free to do so without fear or hesitation.” [Read the ICE memo that describes the agency’s “sensitive locations” policy]

Many school officials say they want to allay the fears of families. They have hosted educational and legal seminars for immigrants, and in some cases assigned staff to support them. In Harrisonburg, Kizner assembled a crisis response team for immigrant students and their families. He also sent home forms to parents, asking in English and Spanish: “In the event of family separation (accident, arrest, emergency hospitalization, etc.) who will take care of your child temporarily?”

The Prince George’s County school system in Maryland has worked with the county government to place bilingual “community resource officers” in schools to support students dealing with immigration-related problems.

Parent-teacher associations in Alexandria have organized “know your rights” seminars, with the first held this month in an elementary school auditorium. At that event, an attorney from the Tahirih Justice Center urged undocumented parents to think about who would care for their children and what would happen to their property if they are detained.

On the limits to protections schools can provide:

Catherine E. Lhamon, a former assistant education secretary for civil rights in the Obama administration, said […] that schools can take many steps to help families. But ultimately, she said, they must also acknowledge that they can’t guarantee anything about the direction of federal immigration policy.

Image by David Mcnew/AFP/Getty Images, copied from above-referenced article.

2016 Education News Roundup

The Washington Post has teacher/blogger Larry Ferlazzo’s 2016 best/worst ed news of the year roundup in a really easy format to read.

One of the year’s highlights:

Efforts to expand ethnic studies classes in schools picked-up steam, with California passing a law to create a model curriculum for these courses and new research showing major student academic gains as a result of participating in them.”

And a lowlight:

“The election of Donald Trump sparked a “hate spike” targeting immigrants and students of various ethnic, religious and racial groups in schools.  Even where harassment was not present, teachers reported fear and uncertainty creating high-levels of stress among students and families across the country, though some critics inaccurately accused educators of “fueling student anxieties.”

Efforts to expand ethnic studies classes in schools picked-up steam, with… new research showing major student academic gains as a result of participating

Here’s where you can find the Post’s version.

Here’s Larry Ferlazzo’s site itself, a great landing page of online resources for educators focused on ELL, ESL, and EFL.

The Day After

Wednesday, 11/9, was most definitely a school day. Below is an initial roundup of pieces talking about how educators and their students began to face the future together.

Dan Stone, a social studies teacher in Oakland, CA, wrote his students a letter. Then, they wrote back. He tells the story, including excerpts from these letters, in The Washington Post.

“I want you to know that your teachers love and care about each and every one of you and that the fact that we cannot protect you from these things and this election makes me feel devastated and weak.”

Jezebel posted a great survey of teachers’ stories about addressing election results, from kindergarten through grad programs.

“When my students came into the classroom, some said they didn’t want to talk about the election; some said they just wanted to hang out and talk; some asked if the class could play exquisite corpse, a surrealist writing game (which felt somehow appropriate at such a surreal moment in time); others looked like they wanted to crawl under the table. I suggested that we tell stories about fierce women in our lives as a way of honoring the historic nature of the campaign and Hillary Clinton’s place in it.”

And The Los Angeles Times has a quick piece about local students and teachers coping, with an emphasis on Latinx and trans students.

“He could have taken the conciliatory road that many Trump opponents were traveling Wednesday morning. But he said he wanted his students to voice their feelings and understand they had a role to play in the nation’s democracy.”

The article can be viewed in Spanish here.

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