This week: Selling out public schools for private profit, and the stress of being a student on DACA.
Compiled and written by Gabriela Montell, Communications Manager, UnidosUS
For sale: Puerto Rico’s public-education system?
Last week we noted that more than five months post-Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico’s public education system is on life support. Hundreds of schools are still without electricity, others are falling apart or on the brink of closing, and more than 25,000 students have left the island in the storm’s aftermath.
Instead of sending much-needed aid to the U.S. territory, however, the Trump administration dispatched U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos to help Puerto Rico’s Gov. Ricardo Rosselló and Secretary of Education, Julia Keleher, reform the school system by introducing vouchers. That’s sparked anger and concern among the people living there that DeVos and company plan to hand over the island’s public schools to for-profit companies with poor student outcomes, according to a recent article on The Intercept.
Naomi Klein, author of the The Shock Doctrine, thinks there’s good reason to worry. In her 2007 book, she explained how wealthy profiteers use crises to push unpopular policies that financially benefit them to the detriment of everyone else.
In a Crooked Media podcast last October, hosted by political columnist Ana Marie Cox, Klein noted that this isn’t the first time DeVos has sold out minority schoolchildren and public schools (for subscribers) in the name of free-market education reform. (Nor is this a Rosselló’s first pass at privatizing Puerto Rican public schools. Pedro Rosselló, the current governor’s father, tried and failed back in the 1990s, a CityLab article notes.)
The stress of being a student on DACA
Four immigration bills stalled in the Senate last month, and the path to a permanent solution to help DREAMers looks harder than ever. But some students, like Jorge Reyes Salinas, a student trustee for the California State University System, refuse to lose hope.
Katherine Mangan, a senior writer for The Chronicle of Higher Education, interviewed (for subscribers) him about life as an undocumented university student. Salinas, who is pursuing a master’s in communication studies at Northridge, described the uncertainty and fear that he and others like him feel.
He was 10 when his parents brought him here from Peru and he dreams of one day earning a law degree or a Ph.D. in public policy and giving back to the community that’s been so good to him and to this country he’s long called home, he told Mangan.
In the meantime, he’s still protected by DACA and has been doing everything he can for his fellow undocumented students—who are wondering whether to put more money into their education or take time off and work to save for their families.
As student-body president at Northridge and vice president of the California State Student Association, Salinas helped get backing for a center for undocumented students and a food pantry and better transportation options for a broader group of at-risk students, Mangan noted. Now he’s urging his fellow dreamers to stay in college and keep their dreams alive: “No one can take away our education. It’s something we’ve worked hard for. It’s something we’ve put time and tears into. It’s something we can say we own and can move forward with that,” he said.
Thanks to a pair of injunctions by federal judges in California and New York, undocumented students may not lose protection from deportation under DACA on March 5, but Trump’s immigration crackdown is taking a serious toll on many of them. According to a new study by the Civil Rights Project at the University of California at Los Angeles, a significant number of immigrant students are struggling with depression, as are many kids who were born here, an article on The 74 notes.
Unfortunately, though, many steps are largely symbolic, and administrators’ hands may be legally tied (for subscribers) when it comes to actually shielding individual students. But there are a few things administrators can do to help. A recent article (for subscribers) in The Chronicle has more.
Finally, don’t miss this blog post by Carlos Guevara, a senior policy advisor at UnidosUS, which tells DREAMers what they need to know now, in light of the recent court decisions, and where they can go for help.