I'm currently in Minneapolis for my very first National Education Association (NEA) Representative Assembly (RA) where around 8,000 public school educators across the country have gathered to set the policy and direction of NEA.
Coincidentally, the Families Belong Together March happened on the first day of the RA. The issue of children being separated from their families is a very personal and strong issue that resonates with many educators. Naturally, since teachers educate children, many educators, including myself, took part in the march. About 7,000 people showed up to the march in downtown Minneapolis on Saturday, 6/30/2018. Here I've shared some pictures I took during the march.
Let's put politics, DACA, and DREAMers, aside for a moment. I don't know about other educators, but all I know is that the students in my classroom are my students the moment they walk through my doors regardless of their race, gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, citizenship, etc. I will do whatever I can do protect them.
Yet there are some people out there that are willing to inflict physical and emotional trauma on children. Back in the 4th grade, my teacher told me to stop asking "dumb questions." That scarred me a bit and I remained hesitant to ask questions all the way through high school for I fear it might be a "dumb question." That kind of trauma I received is nowhere close to what these children are going through right now. As you can see, that one little moment - that one comment my teacher made - affected me for around 8 years. Can you possibly imagine what kind of trauma these children are going through from being separated from their parents??
How do such individuals sleep at night?? What if it happened to you and your children? It especially hurts me more when I hear it that fellow educators cause some kind of trauma, like the one who told her students to speak "American" or the teacher who told their students that their parents will be deported and they will be put in foster homes. The absence of empathy is absolutely appalling, which is why I am a strong advocate for necessity of empathy training and social-emotional learning.
I am an American grown with immigrant roots. My parents are immigrants. Wouldn't any parent want the best for their children and ensure they grow up in a safe environment with opportunities? Families belong together. Stop the trauma. Reunite families.
And as educators, we need to be conscious of our actions in and outside of the classroom. What are our roles? What kind of environment do we want to create in our classroom? Would you want your own children in that classroom?
I'm Jayson, a high school social science teacher with a strong passion for social justice and public education issues.