In his piece “Three Ways Teachers Can Discuss DACA in the Classroom,” David McGuire asserted educators should discuss what is happening in our current political climate in the classroom. I agree teachers should not shy away from being a facilitator of these conversations. I gave my high school students the opportunity to write about then later discuss President Trump’s decision to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program implemented under President Obama. Below, I have included some of their thoughts.
“I don’t agree with President Trump’s actions. Some of those kids need a good life just as much as the kids born in America. One life is not more important than another.”
“They have been here for a while and to make them leave is not right. If they are a threat, then I’d send them back. I bet they are up stressing about being forced to leave everything behind.”
“I disagree with the president’s actions, but I do not want congress to pass a law.”
“I want congress to pass a law so my brother doesn’t get deported. He’s not a bad person. He follows the law and is a good guy.”
“I don’t agree with the President because this will take away their education and their jobs.”
“His decision is going to ruin a lot of lives and he just doesn’t care. Hispanics aren’t all criminals and rapists. I think he just doesn’t like us.”
“Trump should let these immigrants stay here. Two of his wives are immigrants.”
“This is wrong. They’re not trying to take our jobs. They are trying to survive like everybody else.”
“I agree with Trump’s actions. It forces congress to do something. Maybe they will get this law finally passed.”
“If the President would stop and pay attention, he would notice undocumented people work just as hard as people born here. Some of them work three jobs just to make enough money and some people who were born here complain about the few hours they have to work.”
Although the majority of my students disagreed with President Trump’s decision, they had differing views about what should happen next and how strongly they felt about their position. As an educator, I believe it is important to be a facilitator of the discussion and not force my viewpoint upon my students. I ensure students are respectful when viewpoints they disagree with are shared. I also make sure, when they respond to a classmate they disagree with, they think out their answer and provide evidence to support their opinion instead of saying, “I disagree because that’s dumb.” Conflict and disagreement is a part of life, but so is understanding and compromise. A school is a great place for students to learn how to meaningfully engage in discussion and to learn how to listen and consider another viewpoint.
I hope by giving my students the opportunity to learn, write about and discuss DACA, they have become more informed and more willing to engage appropriately in discourse with another person whether they agree or disagree. I also hope they will be motivated to participate in advocating for others now and in the future.