Who Should We Teach?

I missed the first half of the Republican debate last night due to a soccer game. I caught the second half, and was a little frustrated that Brian and John focused so much on the four popular candidates, but that’s neither here nor there.

What caught my attention was in the blogs after the debate was over. I saw this blurb as part of a larger article on EdWeek’s website:

U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, said he doesn’t think that schools should have to educate the children of illegal immigrants.

This got me almost as upset as Newt Gingrich’s agenda to increase charter school allowances and broader choices in schools and Rick Perry’s massive budget cuts to education to help close the state budget deficits.

The precedent that would be set by teaching only certain, qualified children is staggering. America is built on opportunities, including opportunity to improve education, livelihood, and safety. I completely understand that there are other major issues with illegal immigration, but I can guarantee you that the solution is not to begin barring these children from our schools. We cannot begin to divide children into “haves” and “have-nots,” least of all along educational lines.

I am a taxpayer. I understand that my taxes pay for public services as well as my own paycheck. I also understand that my taxes are covering (in part) for those individuals that can’t (or don’t) pay taxes. I have students in my class that fall below the minimum tax bracket…yet, they have the opportunity to come to school. When we refuse to teach children of immigrants that don’t pay taxes, we should also refuse to teach children of Americans that don’t pay their taxes.

Both ideas are ludicrous.

When I signed up to teach, I didn’t do so with a caveat that said “I will teach children of parents that pay taxes.” I agreed to teach every child that walked into the school to the best of my ability, regardless of race, religion, economic, or immigration status.

If we are teaching these children, we have an opportunity to build the values of truth and lawfulness while they are young. We have an opportunity to teach them lessons that their parents may or may not be living out. We have an opportunity to be a very powerful, positive influence on their lives. Like it or not, immigrant children will be future leaders along with ours. Should we refuse to build them up?

Every child has the capacity to do something positive in the world. I, for one, will continue to serve every student with that hope in mind.


As a sidebar, the article about Gov. Perry’s cuts in education was written by a high school student.

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