This Is Not A Drill
January 4, 2019Share:
By Charles Stonick
INTRODUCTION - Teaching Tolerance, a project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, was founded in 1991 to prevent the growth of hate. They began by publishing the Teaching Tolerance magazine and producing films chronicling the modern civil rights movement. Today, their community includes more than 500,000 educators who read their magazine, screen their films, visit their website, participate in Mix It Up at Lunch Day, use their curriculum or participate in their social media community.
Their materials have won two Oscars, an Emmy and scores of other honors. The project has been named a “Friend of the UN,” recognized by the Desmond Tutu Peace Foundation, and selected by President Clinton’s Initiative on Race as one of the nation’s “Promising Practices” to eradicate racism.
Many educators support the idea of schools taking a stand against Department of Homeland Security practices that break up families because of immigration status. For these teachers - that see schools’ legal obligation to educate ALL students, regardless of immigration status (Plyer v. Doe) - the following will help. Many of us recognize that educators’ ethical obligation is to support the well-being of the children they teach. For those teachers who feel a moral, ethical or emotional need to provide support to the people who live in their community the Teaching Tolerance project provides many resources. This is about supporting families educators already serve.
The following is a summary of an article describing five steps every educator in the United States can take - along with extra recommendations for teachers serving communities with many undocumented families - to support some of our most vulnerable students. “This Is Not A Drill” was published in the Fall 2018 issue of Teaching Tolerance.
1. EDUCATE YOURSELF AND OTHERS
Enroll in National Institutions Coming Out Day of Action - Every April, United We Dream’s National Institutions Coming Out Day of Action (NICOD) serves as the culmination of a longer project supporting undocumented students. The NICOD toolkit provides practical recommendations for action.
Teach immigrant rights - Hold a teach-in featuring local immigration experts or distribute “know your rights” cards - in English and home languages - that walk families through the steps they should take during a raid. (The American Civil Liberties Union and the Immigrant Legal Resource Center have ready-to-print documents you can share.)
2. GO PUBLIC
Be vocal about your support – Speaking out about your support for undocumented teachers, students and their families makes it clear to those with undocumented or mixed-status families that you are a safe person to talk to.
Advocate for specific students and their families - If your students or their families are detained, you can support them publically by testifying at hearings, offering interviews to local media or writing letters of support.
3. SUPPORT ORGANIZATIONS AND ACTIVISTS
Offer financial support if you can - Many nonprofit organizations supporting immigrant communities, particularly local ones, need financial support.
Help organizations and activists build a rapid response team - Use a multilingual point person to recruit and notify volunteers to check with students and families to ensure they have plans for guardianship and child care in the event of a raid. Identify pro bono immigration lawyers you can call in an emergency. Make a list of religious and community leaders, social workers and mental health workers that can help. Assess your team with a Community Raid Preparedness Checklist .
4. USE YOUR VOICE
Mobilize your privilege to speak up for undocumented people - Advocate for undocumented people at faculty, PTA, neighborhood association, school board and city council meetings. Write letters to your local newspaper, neighborhood association or church bulletin, and lobby your elected officials.
Make a plan in case ICE shows up at your school - Now is the time to develop a procedure to follow if ICE comes to your school. Make use of the NEA’s online sample Safe Zone Resolution (see last page). Make sure all staff members - particularly those in the front office - know how to respond if ICE officers want to see a student’s records or detain a student.
5. BUILD A COMMUNITY OF SUPPORT
Join your voice with others - Show up at protests or rallies. Circulate and sign petitions protesting deportations. Fundraise in support of undocumented families. By doing so, you create a community of support - one that is ready to respond should a crisis arise.
Advocate for district policies safeguarding students - Lobby your school board to create a Safe Zone resolution to ensure all schools in your district have policies in place in the event of an ICE raid. The National Immigration Law Center offers helpful resources including key legal memos, talking points, FAQs and model resolutions.