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May 12, 2014 0

Schools Must Educate All Students, Regardless of Immigration Status

The U.S. Depart­ment of Jus­tice (DOJ) and the U.S. Depart­ment of Edu­ca­tion (DOE) last week issued crit­i­cal joint guid­ance to schools nation­wide remind­ing them of their respon­si­bil­ity to pro­vide qual­ity edu­ca­tion for all youths, regard­less of immi­gra­tion sta­tus.  Writ­ing that they “have become aware of stu­dent enroll­ment prac­tices that may chill or dis­cour­age the par­tic­i­pa­tion, or lead to the exclu­sion, of stu­dents based on their or their par­ents’ or guardians’ actual or per­ceived cit­i­zen­ship or immi­gra­tion sta­tus,” the Dear Col­league let­ter under­scored for schools that deny­ing edu­ca­tion to stu­dents because of their immi­gra­tion sta­tus vio­lates fed­eral law. plyer-guidance

Titles IV and VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 pro­hibit dis­crim­i­na­tion on the basis of race, color, or national ori­gin, among other fac­tors, respec­tively, by pub­lic ele­men­tary and sec­ondary schools and by recip­i­ents of fed­eral assis­tance.  In 1982 the U.S. Supreme Court held in Plyler v. Doe that a state may not deny access to pub­lic edu­ca­tion to any child resid­ing in the state, no mat­ter his or her immi­gra­tion sta­tus.  The Court explained that deny­ing “inno­cent chil­dren” access to pub­lic edu­ca­tion “imposes a life­time of hard­ship on a dis­crete class of chil­dren not account­able for their dis­abling status…By deny­ing these chil­dren basic edu­ca­tion, we deny them the abil­ity to live within the struc­ture of our civic insti­tu­tions, and fore­close any real­is­tic pos­si­bil­ity that they will con­tribute in even the small­est way to the progress of our Nation.”

In recent years some states and school dis­tricts have tried to require par­ents to dis­close immi­gra­tion sta­tus or pro­vide doc­u­ments unavail­able to undoc­u­mented immi­grants when enrolling their chil­dren in pub­lic schools.  Such require­ments, as the new guid­ance reminds schools, vio­late fed­eral law.  They also run afoul of our val­ues as a nation of immi­grants.  As the Supreme Court wisely rec­og­nized, edu­ca­tion is the build­ing block to suc­cess.  Pro­vid­ing chil­dren access to high qual­ity edu­ca­tion not only serves those chil­dren well, but is also good pol­icy for our coun­try.  Stu­dents who receive high qual­ity edu­ca­tion have the poten­tial to become entre­pre­neurs boost­ing our econ­omy, sci­en­tists research­ing cures for thus far incur­able dis­eases, world lead­ers shap­ing global pol­icy, and so many other possibilities.

Today, 16 states have leg­isla­tively extended in-state tuition to undoc­u­mented stu­dents and other state schools have extended in-state tuition of their own accord, mak­ing col­lege a real­ity for many chil­dren who were brought to the U.S. as chil­dren, have stud­ied hard, and have grad­u­ated from Amer­i­can schools.  As the Court rec­og­nized in Plyler, and the DOJ and DOE under­scored with their guid­ance last week, all chil­dren should have access to high qual­ity edu­ca­tion, no mat­ter their immi­gra­tion sta­tus.  It is time to extend those prin­ci­ples nation­wide from ele­men­tary and sec­ondary schools to higher edu­ca­tion as well.

 


 

Las escue­las deben edu­car a todos los estu­di­antes, sin impor­tar su esta­tus migratorio

El Depar­ta­mento de Jus­ti­cia (DOJ) y el Depar­ta­mento de Edu­cación (DOE, por sus siglas en inglés) de los Esta­dos Unidos emi­tieron con­jun­ta­mente la sem­ana pasada una guía crítica para las escue­las a nivel nacional, recordán­doles su respon­s­abil­i­dad de pro­por­cionar edu­cación de cal­i­dad a todos los jóvenes, sin impor­tar su esta­tus migra­to­rio.  Afir­mando que “han encon­trado prác­ti­cas de inscrip­ción de estu­di­antes que pueden desan­i­mar o desalen­tar la par­tic­i­pación, o con­ll­e­var a la exclusión de  estu­di­antes basán­dose en la ciu­dadanía o esta­tus migra­to­rio real o percibido de ellos o sus padres o tutores”, la Carta a los Cole­gas recuerda a las escue­las que negar la edu­cación a los estu­di­antes por su esta­tus migra­to­rio es una vio­lación de la ley federal.

Los Artícu­los IV y VI de la Ley de Dere­chos Civiles de 1964 pro­híben la dis­crim­i­nación por motivos de raza, color u ori­gen nacional, entre otros fac­tores, respec­ti­va­mente, por parte de las escue­las públi­cas pri­marias y secun­darias y los recep­tores de asis­ten­cia fed­eral.  En 1982, el Tri­bunal Supremo de Esta­dos Unidos sos­tuvo en Plyler v. Doe que un estado no puede negar el acceso a la edu­cación pública a ningún niño que resida en el estado, sin impor­tar su esta­tus migra­to­rio.  La Corte explicó que negar a “niños inocentes” el acceso a la edu­cación pública, es “impon­erle una vida de penurias a unos niños que no son respon­s­ables de su condi­ción migra­to­ria… Al negarle a estos niños la edu­cación básica, se les niega la capaci­dad de vivir den­tro de la estruc­tura de nues­tras insti­tu­ciones cívi­cas y se excluye toda posi­bil­i­dad real de que con­tribuyan al pro­greso de nues­tra nación”.

En los últi­mos años, algunos esta­dos y dis­tri­tos esco­lares han inten­tado exi­gir a los padres cuando inscriben a sus hijos en las escue­las públi­cas que rev­e­len su esta­tus migra­to­rio o pro­por­cio­nen doc­u­men­tos que los inmi­grantes indoc­u­men­ta­dos no tienen.  Esos req­ui­si­tos, como le recuerda la nueva guía a las escue­las, violan la ley fed­eral; tam­bién entran en con­flicto con nue­stros val­ores como nación de inmi­grantes.  Como recono­ció sabi­a­mente la Corte Suprema, la edu­cación es la piedra angu­lar del éxito.  Pro­por­cionar a los niños acceso a una edu­cación de alta cal­i­dad no sólo le sirve a esos niños, tam­bién es una buena política para nue­stro país.  Los estu­di­antes que reciben una edu­cación de alta cal­i­dad tienen el poten­cial de con­ver­tirse en empre­sar­ios que impulsen nues­tra economía, cien­tí­fi­cos que inves­tiguen curas para enfer­medades hasta ahora incur­ables, líderes mundi­ales que con­tribuyan a la política global, y muchas otras posibilidades.

Hoy día, 16 esta­dos han exten­dido por ley la matrícula estatal a los estu­di­antes indoc­u­men­ta­dos y otras escue­las estatales lo han hecho por su propia vol­un­tad, haciendo real­i­dad la edu­cación para muchos niños que fueron traí­dos a Esta­dos Unidos cuando pequeños, han estu­di­ado mucho y se han grad­u­ado de escue­las amer­i­canas.  Como la Corte recono­ció en Plyler, y el DOJ y el DOE destac­aron con su guía de la sem­ana pasada, todos los niños deben tener acceso a edu­cación de alta cal­i­dad, sin impor­tar su esta­tus migra­to­rio.  Ya es hora de ampliar esos prin­ci­p­ios a nivel nacional, desde las escue­las pri­marias y secun­darias hasta la edu­cación superior.

 

 

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January 24, 2014 5

Richard Sherman and Enduring Racial Stereotypes

We recently had a reminder of the endur­ing power of stereo­types in Amer­i­can when an inter­view by Seat­tle Sea­hawks cor­ner­back Richard Sher­man prompted a slew of racist remarks on Twit­ter and a main­stream media com­men­ta­tor referred to him as a “thug” and an “ape.”

Richard Sherman

Richard Sher­man

While per­haps unin­ten­tional on the part of media com­men­ta­tors, the lan­guage sur­round­ing Sherman’s inter­view evoked painful stereo­types of African Amer­i­cans.  Racist imagery that por­trays African Amer­i­cans as beasts, espe­cially mon­keys, emerged dur­ing the Jim Crow era as a means to legit­imize unequal treat­ment of African Amer­i­cans.  Unfor­tu­nately, these stereo­types endure today.  And to many African Amer­i­cans — indeed all peo­ple of good will — these stereo­types remain as inap­pro­pri­ate and offen­sive now as they were in the 20th century.

Stereo­types of African Amer­i­cans harken back to a time when bla­tant racism was com­mon­place in our nation.

The his­tor­i­cal mean­ing of this imagery is often not on most people’s radar, but it should be. It is likely that many Amer­i­cans do not even real­ize they are actu­ally per­pet­u­at­ing age-old racism when they refer to African Amer­i­cans in these terms.

Part of the work of untan­gling the legacy of racism involves edu­cat­ing our­selves and our youth not to engage in it. Words carry our his­tory with them. We can­not pre­tend that refer­ring to a black man as an “ape” is not rooted in racism, and that it is not hurt­ful.  The same goes for stereo­typ­i­cal remarks about other minor­ity groups such as Jews.  Whether such hurt­ful lan­guage is man­i­fested in pro­fes­sional sports, in polit­i­cal dis­course or in school hall­ways, we must counter racist imagery and ter­mi­nol­ogy with con­dem­na­tion and expec­ta­tions that we can be better.

On the pos­i­tive side, the lan­guage we use has the power to change the future and to advance much-needed inter­cul­tural group dynam­ics in our country.

Teach­ers who work with mid­dle and high school youth can uti­lize cur­rent events and social dis­course to start con­ver­sa­tions about how our his­tory of racism con­tin­ues to impact us today.

Moments like these hurt and are rep­re­hen­si­ble, but they can also be oppor­tu­ni­ties to edu­cate and inspire a gen­er­a­tion to end racism.

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January 21, 2014 0

‘That’s So Gay’: Language That Hurts, and How to Stop It

The phrase “that’s so gay” has per­sisted as a way for stu­dents to describe things they do not like, find annoy­ing or gen­er­ally want to put down, while it is promis­ing that fewer stu­dents are hear­ing homo­pho­bic slurs than in pre­vi­ous years.

The phrase is used so com­monly that many stu­dents no longer rec­og­nize it as homo­pho­bic because it is “what every­one says.” When edu­ca­tors and other adults inter­vene, com­mon stu­dent responses include “I was just jok­ing,” “I don’t mean actual ‘gay peo­ple’ when I say ‘that’s so gay’” and “My friend is gay, and she doesn’t mind.”

This year marks the 10th anniver­sary of the Gay, Les­bian & Straight Edu­ca­tion Net­work (GLSEN) No Name-Calling Week. In its 2011 National School Cli­mate Sur­vey, GLSEN’s find­ings remind us of the work that still needs to be done.

  • 84.9% of stu­dents heard “gay” used in a neg­a­tive way (e.g., “that’s so gay”) fre­quently or often at school, and 91.4% reported that they felt dis­tressed because of this language
  • 71.3% heard other homo­pho­bic remarks (e.g., “dyke” or “fag­got”) fre­quently or often
  • 61.4% heard neg­a­tive remarks about gen­der expres­sion (not act­ing “mas­cu­line enough” or “fem­i­nine enough”) fre­quently or often

These kinds of responses rep­re­sent the slip­pery nature of bias and how eas­ily youth can reflect larger social atti­tudes about dif­fer­ence. Biased lan­guage, when it isn’t checked, can esca­late to harsher behav­ior like bul­ly­ing, and may con­tribute to an emo­tion­ally, and poten­tially phys­i­cally, unsafe school environment.

Here are three things adults should con­sider when inter­ven­ing against biased language:

  1. Assume good will. Bias is per­va­sive, and in all like­li­hood a stu­dent is unknow­ingly reflect­ing a bias they heard from peers, the media or fam­ily mem­bers. The stu­dent will likely be open to feed­back and dia­logue. If they do not believe LGBT peo­ple should be mis­treated, their lan­guage should reflect that.
  2. Stay focused, and do not allow your­self to be immo­bi­lized by uncer­tainty or the enor­mity of the topic. Inter­ven­ing in homo­pho­bic remarks does not require a dis­cus­sion about sex­u­al­ity or the his­tory of anti-LGBT slurs. It is about using lan­guage appro­pri­ately and in a way that shows respect for diversity.
  3. Be clear about the bias behind the words. Good peo­ple some­times say cruel things. It doesn’t mat­ter if the stu­dent didn’t intend to be homo­pho­bic, because a neg­a­tive com­ment about any group has the poten­tial to hurt indi­vid­u­als and whole com­mu­ni­ties. While inter­ven­ing doesn’t require a dis­cus­sion about sex­u­al­ity or teach­ing about the his­tory of LGBT peo­ple and/or slurs, the teacher may decide that some class­room instruc­tion in these areas is useful.

 

For more resources, visit ADL’s addi­tional resource page and Cur­ricu­lum Con­nec­tions to down­load Unheard Sto­ries: LGBT His­tory cur­ricu­lum resource.

 

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