Youth and Student Rights

Sometimes (or most times) I feel more like a social worker/guidance counselor/legal counsel than I do a teacher.  Just this past Friday, one of my students received a phone call from her lawyer who states that obtaining a Visa was going to be impossible, and that her best bet is to return to France and establish a life there.  She is devastated, and now my unit test sits unfinished on my desk as I hunt for an immigration lawyer willing to do pro-bono work for a Sophomore…

I immediately made a connection to the DREAMer articles because I often feel like such a hypocrite in my classroom.  I talk to my students often about the idea of college, but I do so knowing that so many of them, due to their undocumented status, will be limited to private universities, denied federal loans, and faced with hours upon hours of private loan applications.  I either steer my students towards college, knowing the near impossibility of the option, or stay silent about what I think they could achieve for themselves.  Neither makes me feel good.

The problems that I grapple with daily, based around my students’ rights, are born from the same issues with school and society that John Dewey was speaking about in School and Society.  According to Dewey, the school and the community are part of the same being.  What happens in one, directly influences the other, and so the other way around.  Dewey states that the progress of our students is the standard upon which we judge our schools.  If our students are being kept from education, then doesn’t Dewey’s logic find our schools and society to be utterly failing our undocumented youth?

In speaking about the articles that I read, I was most interested in the article from the New York Times Learning Network, “Teaching About Children’s Rights Through the Work of Malala Yousafzai and Kailash Satyarthi.”  As soon as I clicked on it, I recognized the source from the What’s Going on in the Picture? series highlighted in the annotation resources from #ED677.  What I noticed about how these articles connected readers to other resources was first how the authors did not have to explain background information.  Instead, they provided links to outside articles or prior articles on their sites that gave additional information to new readers.  This got me thinking… why do I not allow my students to read articles directly from the online source.  In this way, we can discuss how to use these links to complete the full picture of the story!

Have you done this with students before?  Are they distracted by other open tabs, or do they stay focused on the reading at hand?


2 thoughts on “Youth and Student Rights

  1. Wow. What a tough situation for those kids- “‘returning to France and establishing a life there may just be easier…”
    This surely is an issue of inequity. These students need more to make the playing field equal…

    Although I don’t have an answer to your question about distractibility, I can tell you that in my district, each student in the high school is issued a laptop. The kids submit everything online- they read their textbooks online, too. Before I had a class of my own I remember subbing at the high school and as I walked around, I did find that they were online chatting with one another- emailing- doing personal things, etc. I don’t think, however, this is necessarily a bad thing. If anything, it teaches students to multi-task. Let’s be honest- all day long, I’m trying to get one or two personal things done, too, while I am working. I say, “try it.” See what happens…
    Afterall, one thing I keep stumbling upon during my searches for F5F is teaching students to be active, not passive users of technology.

    Great post, thank you for sharing your great thoughts.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s