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School Leadership and Immigration


As a follow-up to a couple of blog entries I've written lately (here and here) about how schools have gotten caught up in law-enforcement actions by federal immigration authorities, I'll point you to an article in November's issue of The School Administrator, published by the American Association of School Administrators.

In "Fighting for Immigrant Children's Rights," several school superintendents recall how they responded to immigration raids in their communities to make sure children were safe and cared for. (I wrote about this topic for Education Week in September).

New to me was an anecdote about how educators at the Board of Cooperative Educational Services in Nassau County, N.Y., which serves 56 local school districts on Long Island, joined with people from various community institutions to address immigration issues in their area. According to the article, people from the educational agency worked with others from law enforcement agencies, health care providers, the court system, and local school districts to "weave a new social safety net" for immigrants, including undocumented immigrants. As a result, immigrant families were able to get legal services and banking services. An exchange program with some states in Mexico was created. Postsecondary institutions started offering scholarships to immigrants.

By contrast, the article quotes the superintendent of a school district in Orange County, N.Y., who says that school leaders should let politicians address immigration issues and stick to their role of educating students.


This was very interesting. How we as a school system deal with children of illegal immigrants has everything to do with what we think the role of school is. To me, it is much more than just the learning. We should be a community and we should be in the business of helping families so that the children can be successful in school. Is that political? Maybe, but school has a large role in the lives of children and cannot be neutral when it comes to what children need.

While schools play an important role in the development of our children lets not forget the primary educators are the parents and families. What lesson is being taught if the parents are breaking the law and coming to the country illegaly and expecting the same treatement as legal immigrants and natural born citizens? Did not our grandparents or great grands leave political strife, religious persecution, starving conditions etc. to come to America? Dodn't they have to follow the rules and file the appropriate papers, learn the language and so forth? What has changed? Why allow the free ride? Yes, the children need an education and the school should afford them one by anything further and the school is over stepping its function of EDUCATION. The social worker and CPS can do the rest.

When we are asked to love thy neighbor, we are not instructed to first find out if the neighbor committed a misdemeanor. Even the children of those who HAVE committed crimes are entitled to care. Auto theft, murder, etc., are crimes. Failure to have immigration documents in order is not.

I congratulate the New York educators who realize that as the safety net unravels and as we find out more about the relationship between good care and good learning, the schools must become full service centers, fully involved in social service activities.

As an educator in Florida for over 40 years, I lament the attitude ingrained in generations of teachers that politics is dirty busy business that we should not get involved in. Civic engagement is a highly moral undertaking. As teachers work to bring about progressive legislation, they set the finest kind of example for their students. I wish advocacy were included in the curriculum for every teacher training institution in the county.

I totally agree with providing a safe educational system for the children; however, it is VERY wrong for illegals to demand things while breaking the law. It is not fair to legal immigrants and natural born citizens. Is it that difficult to become a legal citizen of this country? Do the right thing, illegals. Thank you.

I wonder what things writer Caughman thinks are being demanded? The discussion on illegals is an attempted diversion from what should be causing US citizens real concern....$2.4 TRILLION to Iraq. The US State Department just asked for over $1 Billion for protection services in Iraq. I'll be happy to engage in discussions on all school children on US soil, after the money stops flowing to Iraq.

I think many of us have lost sight of the "illegal" immigrant issue. My ancestors, as well as many of the rest of us, came to this country without proper documents. They just got on a boat and came and struggled. They were made fun of for their accents, and only their children and grandchildren were able to negotiate the American dream. My grandfather came in 1840 and I am the first in my family to obtain a college education. Until somewhere in the 1950's no one had to have documents. It is a new idea that you have to have papers in order before you come in.
To the person who thinks it's easy to get documents: Check into it. It can be impossible for many to do so. Once you have a legal way to gain residency it can take years and a lot of money for attorneys to actual gain those important documents. Most immigrants I know work hard to learn English, to blend in, and become an "American." The kids deserve an education. They had no choice in coming here and going back for many would be extremely difficult for them since they have known no other country.
Bravo for the school districts taking action to support children. That's what it's all about.

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