I have been debating whether to write something on this topic for a few days now, but I think it’s time. I typically don’t want my blog to have political issues in it, but I think the one that is in the broader conversation right now warrants it. If you disagree with my point of view, I hope you can appreciate it and agree to disagree. It’s something that has weighed heavily on my heart in the last few days, and if my buddies at Little Bits have the guts to speak out, I should too.
What am I talking about? This blog is going to be all about the current administration's zero-tolerance immigration policy. Why do I think it’s warranted here? It’s affecting children, and it makes me sick every time I hear about it. I also think there is a broader discussion to be had involving the way we educate children.
Immigration is an incredibly complicated issue especially when it comes to the US southern border. On the one hand, you want to protect the US from violence, drugs, and other negative influences that can come across our border from other countries who struggle to keep those things at bay. On the other hand, you also have to treat others as human beings no matter where they come from, their skin tone, their language, or any of the other factors that make cultures unique around the world. You also want to have compassion for those who are fleeing violent situations in countries of turmoil. No matter the case, a human being should be treated with compassion.
Compassion is not what is being carried out currently. No one in their right mind should condone the forcible removal of children from their family unit. Thankfully, public pressure has forced the administration to backtrack somewhat on that piece of their zero-tolerance policy, but there are still many who have not been reunited with their parents as of this writing. Others are being forced into detention centers with their parents which is better than the alternative, but it can still cause considerable harm to that child emotionally, psychologically, and even physically. While I don’t have the perfect answer on how to handle the issues of these families coming over the border, anything lacking compassion is not it. Can you imagine having to choose between staying where you are and possible dying violently or going somewhere else where your children could be detained in some way? I can’t.
As I have seen these headlines in the last week, I also got sucked into watching the teacher appreciation surprises that Ellen DeGeneres does on a regular basis on her show. Those videos give me hope that the United States won’t get sucked into a cycle of hate, lack of compassion and that there are still incredible human beings who see every person for the light that they are. In many instances, Ellen rewards incredible teachers who take students from lower economic backgrounds, and they get incredible things from them. Many times the kids in these pieces are migrant children. It gives you hope that schools can be a safe space no matter the factors that may differentiate that child on a surface level. There are SO many teachers who show that compassion every day, and they will continue to be some of the lights that shine the brightest.
I pray and hope every day that we can get to a point where we see other human beings as just that. Humans breathe the same way; they sleep the same way, and the bleed the same way. We have a responsibility to teach that compassion, love, and understanding to every student that walks through our doors. If we do, those students can get a greater perspective that will let them solve world issues, create things that help many, and change the world for the better.
Bringing compassion back is going to take everyone doing more. When policies are so anti-human, we have to scream from the rooftops about those injustices. Our education community is strong, and education businesses that center on “what’s best for kids”often fall on the same side of what is the most compassionate response. Just this morning, I received an email from my friends at Little Bits that did just that. They announced that they would donate 20% of all of their direct sales in the next week to help fight for compassion and against the extremist policies of the current administration. For them, that’s a huge step as it also coincides with what I imagine is one of their biggest direct sales weeks of the year. ISTE is this week, and I can only imagine the number of people who get excited about their product and make a purchase. It also took incredible guts to step out there at the risk of alienating a portion of their consumer base. Little Bits act of kindness was an incredible step, and if you were thinking about making a purchase, do it this week! The Little Bits Code Kit is excellent.
Personally, I want to do more to help these families, but I feel a bit helpless. As an educator with four kids, I don’t have considerable income that I can contribute to help. What I can do is teach my kids that we treat every human equally. They all have something unique to share with the world. Some go down negative paths and should have consequences for the choices that they make, but they are still human and need to be treated with love. I also want to empower all of my children to change the world for the better. The United Nations has something called the “Sustainable Development Goals or SDG’s,” and they can be an incredible place to start in understanding world issues.
I am no longer in the classroom, so my scope of change is primarily contained to my own children. If you're still in the classroom, you can go much broader. You see and mold a group of kids every year, and if you fill your class with compassion and love it rubs off. If you give kids the opportunity to understand world issues and the “SDG’s,” they could be that one kid that changes things for the better. If you don’t believe it can happen, watch this VIDEO from Google Science Fair winner Olivia Hallisey, it will change that view quick.
Education continues to be the light that can change the world, and it’s more important than ever. Teachers are the light on the front line of all of the issues that plague our society, and they can be the light that changes things for the better. If you're a teacher and you feel like the problems with the profession are weighing you down, remember that. Educators have to be there to change it to the positive.