During his recent address to Congress, President Trump called education the “civil rights issue of our time.”
As the President’s term unfolds, education leaders and lawmakers have a lot to think about with the respect to equity and fairness in America’s public schools.
While the President was making his remarks, school officials in Ft. Worth, Texas were dealing with perhaps the most explosive civil rights issue of the day.
In a unanimous vote, the Ft. Worth Independent School District (FWISD) Board of Trustees passed a resolution declaring the district a “welcoming and safe” place for all students, regardless of immigration status, as WFAA 8 ABC reports.
The resolution passed in response to President’s Trump call for intense enforcement of federal immigration laws. As reported in the Star-Telegram, it comes after nearly 15,000 Hispanic students refused to attend school during the “A Day Without Immigrants” protest last month.
As the debate over illegal immigration intensifies, school leaders in many communities are torn between the need to cooperate with federal law enforcement and the need to provide safe and productive sanctuaries for students.
FWISD follows other large urban districts, including Clark County, Nev., Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, and Chicago, all of which have passed resolutions re-affirming their commitment to protect the privacy of immigrant students.
While Ft. Worth’s declaration was largely symbolic in nature, districts such as Chicago have been more direct.
In a letter sent to Chicago Public Schools principals, district leaders advised school officials not to cooperate with U.S. Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) officers. From CNN:
“To be very clear, CPS does not provide assistance to US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in the enforcement of federal civil immigration law. Therefore, ICE should not be permitted access to CPS facilities or personnel except in the rare instance in which we are provided with a criminal warrant.”
Keeping them engaged
Changes to immigration policies affect every school district in one way or another, whether debating federal regulations, or helping teachers address the issue with students in the classroom.
As you move forward, developing new policies to protect students and uphold the law, it’s important to engage your community in these discussions and seek their input.
These conversations will be intense, and decisions won’t be easily made, but by making sure every community member has a voice in the conversation, you put yourself in position to address the questions and concerns of your entire district.
Is your school district facing tough immigration policy decisions? How are you using community engagement to start a discussion? Tell us in the comments.
Want more on how to prevent controversy in your district before it starts? Read Crisis prevention starts with listening.