To My Son's Teacher Who Spoke About Immigration Issues in Class,
My son came home and excitedly shared with us the discussion that you held in your class today about immigration. It naturally turned into a discussion on the election. He said it got somewhat passionate. He was one of the few that had supported Secretary Clinton. He shared what others had said. He rolled his eyes. He said it was pretty much him and a few others against most of the class.
This is not the letter you think you'd get from your student's liberal mother who is very good friends with some pretty kick butt activists.
I want to say thank you.
And I'm not saying it sarcastically.
I'm not sending this to the school because things get misconstrued. Not that the internet is the best way...
But seriously thank you.
Thank you for having the discussion.
My son said you did a good job- you tried to hold back your opinion- and you know what- I don't actually care if you don't hold back your opinion, as long as you present it as an opinion, use facts as facts and don't penalize the students who disagree with you. As long as it's not hurtful.
From what my son said, you did all of that- well, we would disagree on some of the facts- but it sounded like you were pretty open to those as well.
People have stopped talking to each other. And while it would have been great if you discussed the use of "undocumented" in referencing immigrants versus "illegals" when discussing those who come and either overstay their visas or come without any (and there are MANY circumstances that this happens that are completely without poor intent), I am so grateful that you are at least talking.
In whatever words.
Because we need to hear all the words. So we can understand why some words hurt. And why they are used from the people who are using them and from the people are hurt by them. Directly. So that people know that it's not a politically correct thing, it's a kindness thing.
We need to talk to each other. Face to face.
The kids need to have the conversations rationally. They need to learn how to have a mature discussion.
As adults, we have not been good examples lately.
They need to not be afraid to have an opinion that is different from everyone else. They need to know that they can disagree with a teacher and not fail a class. Teachers should be allowed to express their opinions as well and not live in fear of a parent complaining or getting fired or suspended after 40 years, like the teacher in California recently was.
I've had three friends who teach tell me horror stories this fall. One taught a media class in college, another an American History class, and a third a Current Events class. They all received complaints from parents about discussing the election. The election.
My jaw dropped just typing that. Especially in the Current Events class- I mean how do you NOT talk about it??
To know that my son's 8th grade Geography class had a discussion on immigration is fantastic.
I'm relieved he didn't say "Hey, dumb ass" to another student be truthful... he can be blunt. I have no idea where in the hell he gets that from...
But seriously, thank you for making them think and not be afraid.
Especially this week.
So much this week.
With all the hate that we've seen across the country and all the tempers rising- myself included- we need to make sure the children know how to discuss and communicate and disagree.
Somewhere we lost that.
Somewhere we forgot how to disagree.
Somewhere we forgot how to compromise.
Somewhere we learned that saying "Wrong" was an appropriate response to a debate.
And we have to continue to question and debate and learn to defend our position.
I have taught both my children that it is important to us that they NOT parrot our beliefs. That we would love them even if they were a conservative. It would be hard, but we would work through it. With counseling. It would be easier if they were gay, but we could handle .... Republican... if it came to that.
Sorry. I needed a minute.
One of my favorite moments this past election season was meeting Bernie Sanders very early on (no Secret Service yet) and having my 10 year daughter look him straight in the eye and say "I'm really a Hillary supporter but they made me come." We have a picture of his face- it was priceless. He cracked up laughing and said "Well, good for you. I like her, too."
So please, keep pushing my son.
Ask him why. Tell him why you think what you think. What lead you to your beliefs.
He knows our stories- share yours.
It could and should influence his.
And we are completely okay with that.
There isn't any way that you couldn't avoid not discussing it. In a class that discusses borders and history and changing borders, migration and policies are critical.
Thank you for teaching.
And if you every want some more details on the role undocumented workers play in the US work force, please let me know. I can even arrange for someone to come speak. My son's response to my offer "MOM- NO- DON'T DO ANYTHING." But honestly I'd be happy to help... we actually have one of the lowest percentages of our labor market that IS undocumented as compared to other countries.... and a large portion pay taxes from which they will never benefit... and okay, here I go...
I hope you can empathize with my son....
I think you are a fantastic teacher and my son enjoys your class. I will never fault anyone for trying to get 13 & 14 year olds engaged in any conversation on what's important. Actually just to speak is a challenge.
From what he said, you did it an open, engaging format and no one felt belittled, threatened challenged or afraid.
That seems quite rare today.
I wish more people would take the chance. Maybe if the kids came home from school and said "Hey today I learned..." and parents listened, rather than immediately called the office to complain, we'd all be better off.
I appreciate your hard work. I'm glad my son has the privilege of being in your class. This year, he's had some amazing teachers at some very critical points in his life in what I think has been a critical year for our country- in English, Spanish, the unfortunate example recently in the music department... all of it is helping to shape the person he will become. Your influence is as great- if not more at this age- as ours.
You inspired him enough to talk with us about what happened in class- that should say everything right there. He even said he was okay with me sharing this. He helped me edit.
Thank you so very much for making him think.
Thank you for teaching.
P.S. I was serious about providing you with the literature on immigration....