Students

A day without immigrants taking tests

Today, our school is engaged in day 3 of 4 of a period of district-mandated testing. This involves schedule and class changes and has contributed to a feeling of generalized chaos in the halls this week. Students are not only going to classes for different lengths of time, but they’re going out of order, and I won’t again see some of the students I had yesterday until next week. This is all being passed down from a mysterious department for which I can’t find any information, let alone a contact email or phone number. This, to me, is further proof that the people in charge of education policies have never spent time in the classroom…

Anyway. I digress.

We had a staff meeting yesterday, and one teacher asked when make-up examinations will be held. There’s a designated time for our given subject tests, and students must be given the equivalent of about three and a half class periods to take them. In short, our testing coordinator said that she didn’t know. I can already tell that making up assessments will cause more headaches than we’ve already gotten this week.

But today is a designated protest day, A Day Without Immigrants, being organized in cities in the United States. It’s been in the works for a while, “in response to President Trump’s immigration agenda,” per NPR. But the timing is especially serendipitous in light of recent events, falling just three weeks after President Trump’s infamous “travel ban” executive order and one week after the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of appeals put parts of that on hold. And as recently as last weekend, Immigration and Customs Enforcement reportedly raided homes and made nearly 700 arrests in at least 11 states. Raids were reported in Austin, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, New York City, Oklahoma City, San Antonio, and parts of Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, North Carolina, South Carolina and Wisconsin.

To give some demographic info without giving away my location, almost half of my students are coded as having “limited English proficiency,” meaning they have either immigrated from a non-English speaking country themselves or, for some other reason, probably don’t speak English at home. At the very least, it’s not their first language.

Many of our students are second- or third-generation immigrants, mostly from Mexico, but also from various other Latin American countries. Eighty-four percent of my students are Hispanic, and while that may be skewed slightly higher than the school overall, I would say that our overall breakdown is probably about 80 percent Hispanic/20 percent Black. Most of those Hispanic students know an immigrant: probably a parent or grandparent, but maybe a brother, sister, cousin, or even themselves.

Of the 23 students on my testing roster this morning, 1 came in tardy, and 3 are absent.

I hope they’re protesting.

I hope they’re exercising their fundamental democratic rights to petition and assemble, and that they have firsthand examples to share when the First Amendment is taught and discussed in their social studies classes.

I hope their families are civically engaged and informed and demonstrating this action and knowledge rather than trying to “stay out of politics” or just talking about it.

I hope they’re safe.

And I hope that they sense that I am there with them in spirit, even if I’m not an immigrant – because I interact with more immigrants than US-born residents every day. I see their contributions to society, in education, politics, business, and really, more areas than you care to read a list of.

I hope that they know I’m in full support of their protest, even if I can’t talk about it, because it’s my professional responsibility to remain neutral. As a trained journalist, I know how to stick to the facts.

I hope they sense my sympathy, because I have such strong feelings that I spend my weekends marching. I’ve heard that protest is the new brunch, and I am here for that.

#FTK,

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2 thoughts on “A day without immigrants taking tests

  1. I was SO excited when I ran into a former student and she told me she was joining the strike today (I was so happy I accidentally yelled “HELL YEAH!” at her, lol). This generation of politically active teens gives me so much hope. I hope you get a chance to tell your students how proud you are of them.

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    1. YES. I asked most students when they came back today why they’d been gone – not all were on strike, but it definitely was a popular answer. At my friend’s elementary school, almost 15% of the students were absent yesterday. In one of my classes, I took a poll, and 80% of students were either immigrants or children of immigrants.

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