Recently I read a blog post titled “Standing in the Light: Supporting Our Immigrant Students“, and it made me think about the fact that with the recent discussion around immigration policy, schools are also impacted.
In the post, the author said that as a teacher she has witnessed the impact that immigration policy has had on her students. The fact that some students felt their status as an undocumented immigrant meant they didn’t believe they would be able to ever go to college or even if they would be able to be at school the next day.
I remember in high school I had friends who told me they were “illegal” and teachers would quickly hush them and say we weren’t supposed to talk about those things in school.
I can’t imagine what it must feel like to be uncertain of your future in that way, or to feel like your existence in the country is against the law, but I can imagine that it would greatly distract me from my school work. Whether or not your family will be home when you get home from school is a much bigger issue than if you did a math problem correctly.
There was also a news article recently about ICE detaining people in Durham this past week in front of a group of school children waiting for the bus. Teachers reported that the students were (understandably) very shaken up when they got to school and unable to focus.
I hate talking about politics so the closest I will get to saying anything of that nature is that I think the actions of ICE when detaining people needs to be evaluated. Children should not be watching their parents or their friend’s parents being beaten up and removed from their homes, and then expected to ride to school and have a productive day of learning. While there are many sides and aspects to this situation, I think that there has to be a more reasonable way to solve this issue.
Whatever is happening politically and no matter what one’s beliefs are, I think everyone should agree that children should feel safe and loved like the blog post said. Without this, they are not going to reach their full potential. In a shifting political climate, I think schools should do more than simply say “don’t talk about it” when students bring up their fears and home life situations. Teachers and guidance counselors should be sources of support for children to encourage them and help them flourish.
While I understand schools are overcrowded and teachers already have a ton on their plate, I think there should still be somewhat simple ways to make school be a place where students can feel safe and protected and believed in as human beings. Whether this is through a safe space where kids can talk to an adult once a week or even through anonymous journals where students can record their thoughts and fears and what is happening at home. This can be good for students of any background facing any type of issue at home. I know for me, it has always helped me feel relief and focus when I can get my thoughts and experiences out of my head and onto paper.
I am interested in hearing what anyone else has to think about this issue, because I don think it is impacting schools and is important for those within education to discuss.