Sunday, April 23, 2006

On not taking it to the street | 3.30.06

4LAKids: Thursday, March 30, 2006
In This Issue:
 •  On not taking it to the street
 •  THE LAUSD POSITION: Los Angeles Unified School District's Letter to Parents
 •  What can YOU do?

Featured Links:
 •  READING TO KIDS: Read to some kids the second Saturday morning each month. Make a difference. Change some lives (including your own!).
 •  The Blueprint for Effective School Reform: MAKING SCHOOLS WORK � Get the Book @!
 •  THE BEST RESOURCE ON CALIFORNIA SCHOOL FUNDING ON THE WEB: The Sacramento Bee's series "Paying for Schools."
 •  FIVE CENTS MAKES SENSE FOR EDUCATION- Target one nickel from every federal tax dollar for Education.
On not taking it to the street
Dear Parents, Students, Teachers and Community members:

We saw half a million in the streets last Saturday. We also have seen a lot of militancy around our schools in the past week; a lot a young people have been speaking out and walking out in solidarity with those who dream the American Dream.

The American Dream knows no race, gender, faith or national origin. It knows no color; it is dreamt in every language. It has no proper documentation.

To those who would argue that undocumented immigrants' dreams are driven more by economics than freedom, I remind you of Franklin Roosevelt's Four Freedoms: Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Worship, Freedom from Want and Freedom from Fear. FDR himself defined Freedom from Want in economic terms.

Today we find the American Dream and The Law at odds. Eleven million dreamers are illegal, outlaws.

Students have been out in the streets here in LA, in Bellflower, Wilmington and Compton. And in Riverside, San Diego, Salinas, Watsonville, Phoenix, AZ and Irving, TX. One can debate whether it is safe or appropriate for students to leave school in protest; it is certainly not legal � but that the nature of civil disobedience! We can debate whether civil disobedience is appropriate for kids �as parents and educators we do have a certain expectation of obedience.

As parents we can expect and must insist that our kids will stay in school and find appropriate ways to speak out on campus � this is a reasonable expectation of both students and schools. I think we can also reasonably expect administrators and teachers to provide channels for speaking out on issues that so many of our young people feel so passionately about. Educators who cannot turn this challenge into an educational opportunity must have been asleep in Teacher's college!

Parents need to speak to their children about acting responsibly � and about the very real difference between acting out, righteous indignation and irresponsible actions. There was a very dangerous situation earlier this week when students attempted to shut down the freeway in downtown LA. There is currently a lot of inflammatory rhetoric and ugly threats in online communities � this kind of dialog is hateful no matter how one feels about illegal immigration!

Our children are idealists and their ideals are genuine and real. We must listen to their voices. The song lyric that says "Teach your children well" continues in the next verse: "Teach your parents well".

We are listening and we are learning, all of us, everyday. �smf

THE LAUSD POSITION: Los Angeles Unified School District's Letter to Parents

Dear Parent/Guardian:

During the past several days there have been a series of student walkouts during the school day to protest recent proposed immigration legislation. Although we support students� right to voice their opinion, when students leave school without permission, they are in violation of District policy and compulsory attendance laws. Section 48200 of the Education Code states: �that each person who is between the ages of six and eighteen years and not otherwise exempted�is subject to compulsory full-time education��

In addition to the Education Code, the Los Angeles City and Los Angeles County have strict loitering ordinances. These ordinances prohibit any person under the age of eighteen and subject to compulsory school attendance from loitering in or upon the public streets, highways, roads, alley, parks, playgrounds, or other public grounds between the hours of 8:30a.m. and 1:30p.m. on days when school is in session. Students who violate these ordinances may receive a citation, have to appear in court with their parent/guardian, have a fine imposed by the court, and risk having their driver�s license withheld.

Activities have been planned at each school to provide students with an opportunity to express their concerns and opinions. Teachers have received instructional materials to also help students understand the current events regarding immigration.

Please be advised that students who leave campus without permission are defying school rules and District policy and will be subject to disciplinary consequences. In addition, students who are not in school and absent without a valid excuse will be issued a loitering citation by law enforcement agencies. We are requesting your support in ensuring that your child attends school for the entire school day and, if interested, take advantage of school based activities to voice their viewpoint on this and other relevant current events occurring in the community. If you have further questions, feel free to contact your child�s school.

►I'm always so delighted to see an unsigned school district letter outreaching to parents and soliciting our help that includes a paragraph that begins "Please be advised�" and continues to threaten "disciplinary consequences" and/or legal action. It's so warm and friendlylike. �smf

News Report, City News Service Wave Newspapers

Mar 30, 2006 � LOS ANGELES � Despite school lockdowns and rainy weather, thousands of students from nearly two dozen campuses rallied for immigrant rights this week.

Spokespersons for the Los Angeles Unified School District said about 6,000 students were absent from school Tuesday and that students from 20 to 24 campuses were taking part in protests across the area.

Students also marched in Bellflower, Wilmington and Compton.

It was the third day of student protests about the immigration reform legislation being debated by the U.S. Senate.

More than 36,000 students from 26 school districts throughout the county skipped classes Monday and marched through streets and on freeways to protest an immigration bill

Last Friday, more than 2,000 students from various schools staged a walkout. Roughly 1,000 students walked out of Huntington Park High School early Friday morning.

As the day progressed, hundreds more students left class from King-Drew Medical Magnet, South Gate, Garfield, Roosevelt, Montebello and South East high schools, according to the LAUSD.

Some South East students threw rocks and bottles at Los Angeles Unified School Police officers, according to the district. Five officers were taken the hospital for treatment and released.

South Gate police and the California Highway Patrol said the students� march caused some traffic congestion, but no other major problems. Some minor vandalism was reported in Huntington Park.

Students told television reporters that they didn�t necessarily fully grasp the nuances of the bill, but said they opposed any measure to deport immigrants.

�They�re making laws for all immigrants to go back to their countries and we just think that�s not right,� student Francisco Velazquez said. �We all want to stay here. We all want to get a good education.�

�They want to send all the people from Mexico � who came from Mexico without papers � they want to send them all back, and we don�t want that,� another student said.

One girl, when asked if she understood the bill, looked at her friends and responded, �We don�t know, but we want to stay here.�

About 1,000 students rallied for much of the day at Los Angeles City Hall, with several representatives meeting privately with Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. The mayor later spoke to the students, saying their voices were being heard, but urging them to return to class.

The immigration issue was also the subject of a massive demonstration in downtown Saturday.

Police estimated that as many as 500,000 people marched and demonstrated downtown. Despite the numbers, police said there were no arrests or injuries during the day.

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa addressed the crowd.

�We cannot criminalize people who are working, people who are contributing to our economy and contributing to the nation,� Villaraigosa said.

Assembly Speaker Fabian Nu�ez, D-Los Angeles, also attended the rally.

�We believe in the American dream, and all we want is that dream to be made available to all who work hard and want to benefit from it,� Nu�ez said. �We don�t want a handout � what we are looking for is sensible legislation.�

LAUSD officials said middle and high school classes throughout the district would have classroom discussions Tuesday on a bill introduced by Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., which would crack down on employers hiring illegal workers and people smuggling illegal immigrants into the country.

�We will have in-class teachings for students so that they can have conversations to deal with this issue in a very productive way,� said Rowena Lagrosa, executive officer of educational services for the district.

The class discussions will also address freedom of speech, civil protests and events in U.S. history that have involved public protests, according to a district statement.

In addition to the lockdown, police presence was beefed up on LAUSD campuses, district officials said.

Robert Hinojosa, principal of Huntington Park High School, said his students were staying on campus Tuesday.

�So far it�s quiet. The rain is helping,� he said. �Some of [the students] still have their high school exit exams to pass, and they�re very conscious that it has to get back to business as usual.�

Student Martin Iniguez said his classmates should return to the classroom.

�If we don�t stay in school � we�re marching out when we should be in a learning environment and it seems that we don�t want that � it just looks bad on us,� he said.

The Sensenbrenner bill, HR 4437, would require employers to verify Social Security numbers with the Department of Homeland Security, increase penalities for immigrant smuggling and stiffen penalities for undocumented immigrants who re-enter the United States after having been removed.

Under the bill, approved last December by the House of Representatives, local law enforcement agencies would be reimbursed for detaining illegal immigrants. Refugees with aggravated felony convictions would also be barred from receiving green cards.

The U.S. Senate�s Judiciary Committee softened the immigration reform bill Monday by voting to create a path for some of the nation�s estimated 12 million illegal immigrants to become citizens without first leaving the country.

Under the version voted on by the committee, additional foreign workers would be allowed to enter the United States temporarily under a program that also could lead to citizenship.

Additionally, the committee adopted an amendment by Sen Richard Durbin, D- Ill., that would protect charitable organizations and churches from criminal charges for providing aid to illegal immigrants.

UPDATED TO THE MINUTE: The latest news on Student Walkouts


Parents/guardians of LAUSD students will gather at the Los Angeles Convention Center for the 10th Annual Parent Summit on Saturday, April 1, at the Los Angeles Convention Center, 1201 S. Figueroa St., in downtown Los Angeles. The event is scheduled from 8 a.m.-4 p.m.

The Summit will focus on involving parents/guardians in a variety of interactive seminars and also provide opportunities for parents/guardians to pose questions to members of the Los Angeles Board of Education and dialogue with teachers. Parents/guardians may also have an opportunity to give their opinion to members of the City's Joint Commission on LAUSD Governance regarding whether the Board of Education should continue to be elected by voters or appointed by the mayor.

Seminars will include: A-G college requirements, the high school exit exam, programs for English Learners, classroom acoustics, and special education.

Organized by and for parents/guardians, the Summit will feature guest speaker Michael Grice, who will speak about the unity and new commitment of parents/guardians in support of our children. A continental breakfast and full-service luncheon will be served. This year, the conference's exhibit is being expanded and entertainment and music will showcase local talent. Public officials are invited to attend and learn about LAUSD parent/guardian concerns.

LAUSD parents/guardians wishing to attend can get conference information and pre-registration forms at the Parent Center or office at their child's school. Free transportation to and from the conference is being provided from designated LAUSD schools and free on-site parking is available at the Convention Center (carpooling is encouraged). Simultaneous translation of conference proceedings will be available in Armenian, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Russian, Spanish and Tagalog.

What can YOU do?
� E-mail, call or write your school board member: � 213-241-6387
[ Office Vacant ] � 213-241-6180 � 213-241-6388 � 213-241-6382 � 213-241-6385 � 213-241-6386 � 213-241-6383
...or your city councilperson, mayor, assemblyperson, state senator, the governor, member of congress, senator - or the president. Tell them what you really think!
Call or e-mail Governor Schwarzenegger: 213-897-0322 e-mail:
� Open the dialogue. Write a letter to the editor. Circulate these thoughts. Talk to the principal and teachers at your local school.
� Speak with your friends, neighbors and coworkers. Stay on top of education issues. Don't take my word for it!
� Get involved at your neighborhood school. Join your PTA. Serve on a School Site Council. Be there for a child.
� Vote.

Scott Folsom is a parent and parent leader in LAUSD. He is President of Los Angeles 10th District PTSA and represents PTA as Vice-chair the LAUSD Construction Bond Citizen's Oversight Committee. He serves on various school district advisory and policy committees and is a PTA officer and/or governance council member at three LAUSD schools. He is also the elected Youth & Education boardmember on the Arroyo Seco Neighborhood Council.
� In this forum his opinions are his own and your opinions and feedback are invited. Quoted and/or cited content copyright � the original author and/or publisher. All other material copyright � 4LAKids.
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