Giving Compass’ Take:
• Educators and school districts are facing numerous challenges trying to support their immigrant student population due to rising fears over immigration policies.
• How can federal investment in school districts help students?
The House Committee on Education and Labor was split along party lines during a Wednesday hearing, when representatives learned from witnesses that immigration policies affecting undocumented students and those from mixed families are “creating and perpetuating unprecedented challenges” for educators and districts.
Among those, expert witnesses at the hearing said, are staffing of mental health professionals in schools increasingly needing trauma-informed care, a heightened school climate of fear and anxiety, and a deep-rooted sense of uncertainty among key stakeholders including teachers, parents and students.
“Their biggest worry should be passing tests and getting good grades,” said House Rep. Mark Takano (D-California), a former public school teacher of over 20 years, crediting what he described as “fear-mongering” immigration policies and the “neglect” of U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos for the challenges many immigrant students are facing.
Instead, Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Virginia), the committee’s chairman, said immigration enforcement policies have resulted in “steep declines in participation” among immigrant communities and increased signs of emotional distress among students, as reported by school administrators.
Educators also report having to navigate tense school climates as a fallout from anti-immigrant rhetoric and policies that have put thousands of students and educators at risk.
On the other hand, Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Alabama) urged lawmakers to consider the “cost of not enforcing the law.” Also a former state school board member, the congressman said an annual $60 billion is spent on children who are undocumented or whose families are of mixed-status.
“Educating those students is expensive,” Byrne said, saying state and local school systems pay for nearly 100% of the cost of ESL programs “to the detriment of other programs.”
Meanwhile, he said teacher salaries are declining, classroom sizes are growing, and resources for students are shrinking, while criticizing immigration for “harming” the U.S. public education system.
Read the full article about how immigration policies impact educators by Naaz Modan at Education Dive.
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