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EVERY STUDENT SHOULD FEEL SAFE IN SCHOOL

Katherine Kennedy

and secondary level.” This letter was sent because leaders at the In early March, Board President Heather Bennett, Board Department of Justice and the Department of Education became Member Kristi Swett, and I toured an elementary school located in “aware of student enrollment practices that may chill or discourage the the southwestern quadrant of Salt Lake City with Superintendent Lexi participation, or lead to the exclusion, of students based on their or their Cunningham. Each classroom in this school has adopted a different parents’ or guardians’ actual or perceived citizenship or immigration university, and these Kindergarten to fifth-grade students are proudly status. These practices contravene Federal law.” Moreover, there is college bound. It is inspiring to see these children work hard at math a “Federal obligation to provide equal educational opportunities to concepts, earn reading rewards, dance with a Beverly Taylor Sorenson all children residing within your district and to offer our assistance in Arts Specialist, play violin with the Gifted Music School teachers, earn ensuring that you comply with the law” (Colleague Letter). Similarly, t-shirts provided as incentives from colleges, all in order to succeed. in Plyler v. Doe, 457 U.S. 202, the Court found that states must So many partners collaborate with the Salt Lake City School District educate students regardless of citizenship status, interpreting the equal to help keep kids engaged and on track. One of our partners should protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to apply to anyone be the federal government. Utahns should elect leaders who respect who lives in the United States of America. the education of all children in the United States, no matter their Another reason to support the education of all students regardless immigration or citizenship status. We need an educated Utah workforce, of education status is because it is fiscally sound policy. It is indisputable we need an educated American workforce, and we increasingly need an that refugee and non-English-speaking children place a greater local educated world workforce. Let’s do our part not to sabotage our own cost burden on our schools than an average student. It is also true that future, brightly promised in those young faces. this cost is quickly absorbed by the benefits that immigrants bring to We should educate every child in Utah, regardless of immigration our economy: “immigrants and their offspring pay more in federal status. It is our responsibility to our state, our country, and our society. It taxes than they receive in federal benefits over their lifetimes” and “[i] is also our moral obligation as decent people who care about our young. mmigration is integral to the nation’s economic growth” concludes Rex Let us support the heartfelt messages from our last two presidents, who Nutting after analyzing a National Academies of Sciences report and put their hopes into the names of their policies. President George W. several other studies. Nutting adds that the “positive contribution of Bush wanted no child to be left behind; and President Barack Obama immigrants will only become more important in the coming decades fervently wished that every student should succeed. Let’s give every as the native-born population ages. Growth in the labor force between child in our city, our state, and our country the opportunity to succeed 2020 and 2030 will ‘depend completely on immigrants’ and their U.S.- in life. born children.” By educating all students, we create a concept of citizenship References and belonging that prevents despair and anger and instead builds community. Gates adds that if students are “going to contribute to Utah’s Blitzer, Jonathan. “After an Immigration Raid, A City’s Students communities, we want them to have an education. We need them to be Vanish.” The New Yorker, March 23, 2017, http://www. college and career ready. If they miss their opportunity for an education, newyorker.com/news/news-desk/after-an-immigration-raid- they can’t help their families and community.” The alternative—denying a-citys-students-vanish) students an education—will ultimately be much more expensive to our Gates, Valerie. Presentation to the Salt Lake City School Board society. There is a clear correlation between students who cannot read during Public Comments. February 21, 2017. and who later are incarcerated. The Literacy Project tells us that “[i] Gottfried, Michael A. “Evaluating the Relationship between lliteracy costs American taxpayers an estimated $20 billion each year” Student Attendance and Achievement in Urban Elementary and students who do not graduate from high school cost our nation and Middle Schools.” American Education Research Journal. $240 billion in social service expenditures and lost tax revenues.” June 1, 2010. For me, the most significant reason to educate all children regardless Lhamon, Catherine E., Rosenfelt, Philip H., and Samuels, of their immigration status is because it is the only moral thing to do. Jocelyn. “Dear Colleague Letter.” Departments of Justice Many elementary-age children whose parents are undocumented are and Education. May 8, 2014. http://www.k12.wa.us/ United States citizens by birth. Other children are not responsible for MigrantBilingual/pubdocs/May8th2014ColleagueLetter.pdf their parents’ choices, choices that were often made because families Nutting, Rex. “2 trillion reasons why immigrants make America felt they had no other reasonable path forward in their country of origin. great.” MarketWatch. September 23, 2016. http://www. As I picture the bright faces of eager children, learning in classrooms marketwatch.com/story/immigration-not-a-wall-makes- across our valley, I cannot imagine denying them an education and the america-great-2016-09-22 possibility of succeeding in life. “Staggering Illiteracy Statistics.” The Literacy Project Foundation. The feedback from my constituents all strongly supported the Safe http://literacyprojectfoundation.org/community/statistics/ School Resolution. I received a letter from 13 of those constituents, who Wood, Benjamin. “Salt Lake City School District commits to live in the Capitol Hill neighborhood, after the Salt Lake City School protecting privacy of undocumented students.” Salt Lake Board voted for the Safe School Resolution. These constituents wrote, Tribune. March 21, 2017. http://www.sltrib.com/ “Thank you for supporting and signing the Safe School Resolution, news/5086877-155/salt-lake-city-school-district- thereby reassuring immigrant and refugee families that Salt Lake commits#undefined.uxfs City School District facilities are safe and welcoming places where all students are able to focus on their education regardless of immigration status, ethnicity, national origin, race, or religion.” As Stan Penfold, my colleague who represents the Greater Avenues on the Salt Lake City Council, recently stated, “Salt Lakers have big hearts.” Most feedback to the Salt Lake City School Board was in support of all students receiving a quality public education, regardless of their immigration status. Utahns want students to feel safe at school.

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Hinckley Journal 2017  

The Hinckley Journal of Politics is the only undergraduate-run journal of politics in the nation and strives to publish scholarly papers of...

Hinckley Journal 2017  

The Hinckley Journal of Politics is the only undergraduate-run journal of politics in the nation and strives to publish scholarly papers of...

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