Education Week - March 7, 2018 - Special Report - S11
a warrant, subpoena, or similar court order.
But a year after these districts declared their campuses as
"safe zones" for undocumented students, educators such as
Martinez are pondering how to keep immigrant students not
only safe, but also engaged and motivated in their education.
With rumors of immigration raids swirling on social media,
Regina Rogers, a teacher at East Boston High School, said
students often pose a simple question: "I might be picked up
tomorrow so why do I care about this?"
The answer is often complicated.
A SENSE OF BELONGING
"It's a really delicate balance ... to validate how hard things
are and to help them find hope when the outlook looks so
bleak," Martinez said.
Even as they wrestle with that dilemma, new challenges
are emerging on the horizon. School districts across the
country may encounter a new wave of undocumented immigrant students.
Over the next 18 months, the Trump administration will
revoke Temporary Protected Status, or TPS, for immigrants
from El Salvador and Haiti, countries devastated by earthquakes. TPS allows immigrants from countries in crisis to live
and work in the United States legally.
"Whatever schools can do to make kids feel safe ... that can
make them feel like they belong is critically important," said
Jean-Claude Brizard, a Haitian immigrant who is a senior
fellow at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and formerly
served as CEO of the Chicago public schools. "But there's lots
of stuff underneath that."
While many schools focus on ways to keep law enforcement off campus, educators at Monseñor Oscar Romero
Charter School-a 345-student school in Los Angeles-have
taken a different tack, welcoming captains from the city police department to meet with parents and students.
The Los Angeles Police Department bars officers from initiating contact with people solely to determine their immigration status-and the police chief has pledged that stance
won't change despite calls from Trump for more cooperation
on enforcement between local and federal authorities.
The charter network has deployed full-time social workers
to its three campuses to help address an upturn in disciplinary issues sparked by the uncertainty in their students' lives.
"I don't think that I've ever had to help young people
navigate more emotionally charged times," said Yvette
King-Berg, the executive director of the charter school network. "It has been a very stressful and high tension time."
California established itself as a sanctuary state, with
educators partnering with local government and law enforcement to resist the ramp-up in immigrant enforcement. State Superintendent Tom Torlakson has called for
the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to adhere to
its "sensitive locations" guidance, which directs federal
agents to avoid enforcement activities at schools, school
bus stops, colleges and universities, and other educationrelated locations. But assurance that the state's schools
would be a safe zone took a hit last year when federal
agents detained an undocumented father after he took his
daughter to school in Los Angeles.
In Oakland, Calif., the district has a task force, hosting
monthly workshops and film screenings to foster discus-
sion about immigration. Roughly half the district's students
speak a language other than English at home and schools
there have had an influx of students from Central America,
China, and Yemen.
The district, with input from students and community
members, drafted a list of do's-do create routines for students to discuss and react to current events while keeping the
focus on learning-and don'ts-don't force participation or
allow adult emotions to supersede student needs.
The goal is "finding ways that are not just about fearbased response, but offer opportunities for understanding
the beauty of diversity and how that enriches our community," said Nicole Knight, the executive director of
Oakland's office of English-language learner and multilingual achievement.
In Boston, educators use personal narratives to get
students talking. Rogers, the East Boston High teacher,
coaches newcomer students through essays that explore
their home countries, what they think of their lives now,
and their hopes for the future.
Some students are reluctant to share details, perhaps
with good reason. An East Boston High student identified
in a school police report was arrested by immigration officers and has been detained for more than a year.
Many students are aware of the incident so Rogers said
she doesn't press students to reveal more than they are
comfortable with, but she finds the experience of sorting out their feelings helps break down walls and build
camaraderie, not just between teacher and students, but
among classmates as well.
Martinez, the counselor who was undocumented for
four years, got her green card when her mother married
a United States citizen. She knows a path to citizenship,
or at least legal status, is not easy.
Her goal is to make sure students without legal status
know they have options before they decide to give up on
"It's about saying, 'Yes, this situation is really awful,
there are very few ways to resolve it and I don't have all
the answers, but I'm committed to being here with you
and to figuring it out,'" Martinez said. ■
FACING PAGE: Claudia
Martinez is a counselor at
Boston Latin Academy and
co-founder of Unafraid
Educators, a committee
within the Boston Teachers
Union that supports
ABOVE: A sign on teacher
classroom door announces
her support for
undocumented students at
Boston's John D. O'Bryant
School of Mathematics
M. SCOTT BRAUER
Teaching Vulnerable Students
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - March 7, 2018 - Special Report
Education Week - March 7, 2018
Yzmar Roman, an 11th grader in Arecibo, Puerto Rico
Emotional Needs of Students, Educators Crucial to Puerto Rico’s School Recovery
School Districts Weigh Security After Shooting
Is It Time for a Focus on Civics Education?
Immigrants Thrive In Canadian Schools
News in Brief
DACA Continues for Now, as Does Uncertainty for ‘Dreamers’
DIGITAL DIRECTIONS: Schools Teach ‘Cyber Hygiene’ to Prevent Internet Attacks
States Confront Range of Hurdles To Swift Action on School Security
Teachers With Gun Training Wary of Trump’s Proposal
Eyes on Pearson as It Moves to Sell Curriculum Business
Outside Supreme Court, Union Supporters, Detractors Face Off
Case Over Union Fees Poised on Knife’s Edge
DeVos Eyeing School Choice As Option for Military Families
Q&A with nadine burke harris: In the Wake of Adversity, a Pediatrician’s Guidance
Olga Acosta Price & Wendy Ellis: Schools Shouldn’t Tackle Trauma Alone
Collected responses: After Parkland, Where Do We Go From Here?
TopSchoolJobs Recruitment Marketplace
Gregg Behr: The 2020 Census: Every Child Counts
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