Recently, the Denver Public School System announced it would allow illegal immigrants to teach in its classrooms.
Before writing a single additional word, let me clarify two things. First, I’ll address new teachers’ immigration status. They’re aliens who President Barack Obama, through an executive action that was not congressionally approved, granted what is known as deferred action for childhood arrivals (DACA). Obama’s policy gives them temporary, two-year legal standing, work authorization and removes them from possible deportation. However, DACA does not put recipients on a path to a green card or to citizenship. Essentially, DACA represents a reprieve from deportation that carries work benefits.
In 2012, when much ado accompanied the administration’s unilateral decision to defer young immigrants who allegedly came unknowingly to the U.S. with their parents at an early age, little was written about the important fact that one of the benefits would be work permits. Hiring the Denver teachers and filling other jobs Americans would do was the obvious outcome of issuing work permission to formerly unemployable (because of their immigration status) aliens. According to the most recent U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services report, nearly 600,000 applicants have been approved since 2012.
Second, I’m a retired teacher who spent his career in a California district where the Hispanic enrollment exceeded 40 percent. I know what happens in classrooms heavily populated by limited English speaking students.
On its face, putting the delicate, complex task of educating children in the hands of inexperienced, uncertified personnel like the new Denver teachers is outrageous. Under normal circumstances, it would be unthinkable. But these are different, troubling times. The administration and Congress are determined to expand DACA to exempt from deportation every alien in the U.S. Some observers think illegal immigrants and their advocates treat alien status as a badge of honor, so blatantly and fearlessly do they flout the law.
As is often the case when immigration laws are bent or broken, excuses that may sound plausible are offered up to defend the indefensible. In this case, DPS Superintendent Tom Boasberg said because the teachers are bi-lingual, they “have a deep personal understanding of the challenges that many of our students who similarly came to this country in undocumented status as young children have.”
Don’t expect that “deep understanding” will automatically be a trait new teachers will have. And speaking a second language, primarily Spanish in Denver’s case, isn’t the driving determinant for teaching skills. I’ve worked with plenty of teachers born and raised in the U.S. whose compassion was boundless. Sadly though, too many of my bilingual teaching colleagues were often inattentive to their tasks.
Better short and long term solutions to educate immigrant students are available. Colorado and other states facing the same academic challenges could allow interested, experienced but retired teachers to return to the classroom without sacrificing any of their pension benefits. Surely, there are enough teachers in the Denver teacher retiree pool who would welcome the extra income. Also, allow professionals with a proven, successful track record in the private or public sector to switch to teaching without burdening them with the same tedious requirements that a newly graduated education major must complete. Let their life skills substitute.
More important is the long term, permanent solution. Of its 87,400 students, one-third are Spanish-speaking, limited English speakers. Without securing the border and returning to internal enforcement, the flow of non-English speakers with their special language requirements will continue.
Then, the responsibility to educate them falls, whether they like it or not, to Colorado taxpayers.
In California, Gov. Jerry Brown signed a law that allows aliens to practice law. The Denver Public School system just hired illegal immigrant teachers. A well organized, well funded effort to give voting privileges to aliens is underway.
Until checked, illegal immigrant entitlements will snowball until the U.S. is no longer a sovereign nation.
JOE GUZZARDI can be reached at [email protected]