Over the past couple of days, patrons and employees from across the district have shared concerns and even anecdotes with me. I’d like to take the opportunity to address those concerns.
As a personal matter, my father’s family came to America in 1633, nearly 150 years before there was a United States of America. On the other hand, I was born only five years after my mother immigrated to this country, having twice fled her home – once when it was reduced to rubble by bombs and once for political reasons. I was born here in America and served in the United States Army, including a deployment in Europe during Desert Storm. I am fiercely patriotic and a proud and loyal citizen of the United States. My own story is not very different from many, if not most, stories across our great country.
Part of my pride in the United States is our fundamental constitutional commitment to providing equal protection to all under the law. Not many years ago, one of our sister states sought to exclude children residing in their state without proper documentation from attending school. The United States Supreme Court, in holding that children cannot be grouped and then excluded from school or otherwise treated differently in school because of documentation or some other status such as race, religion, national origin, gender, disability or political views stated: “It is difficult to understand precisely what the State hopes to achieve by promoting the creation and perpetuation of a subclass of illiterates within our boundaries, surely adding to the problems and costs of unemployment, welfare, and crime.”
It is consequently unlawful and inappropriate for children in schools to be treated differently from other children on the basis of some status. Behavior yes, status no. There is no such thing as “our kids” and “their kids” or “those kids.” All kids are “our kids.”
I call on all of our employees, teachers and administrators alike, to let no student feel that they are somehow second class or at risk of losing something because of a status. I encourage parents, patrons and community members to do likewise.
Thanks for the great job you all do!