Last spring, I addressed the Board of Education and asked them to pass the Resolution to Reaffirm Aurora Public Schools’ Inclusive Practices and Beliefs for All Students Regardless of Documentation Status. They did so unanimously, and for that I am grateful. In light of this week’s announcement that DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) would be rescinded, I am compelled to reiterate what I said that day.
On December 12, 2006, ICE officials carried out a raid on the Swift Meat Packing Company. It spanned six states, including Colorado. That day, thirteen hundred undocumented workers were swept up and taken into custody. In Greeley alone, more than 200 children came home from school that day to find that one – or both of their parents – were gone. Many more parents pulled their kids out of school that day; they had heard a rumor that the government was coming for the children next.
Although Greeley is 60 miles away, it didn’t take long for the ripple effect to reach Aurora. That morning, I was working in my office at Crawford Elementary where I was principal. All of a sudden, I heard a loud commotion out front. Frantic voices. Crying mothers. I ran to see what was going on.
“What’s wrong? What happened?” I asked. I reached out to hug the woman who closest to me, but before I could get my arms around her, she grabbed my hands, got down on her knees, and begged me to keep her children safe. She begged me.
Of course, parents want us to teach their children, but the number one thing that parents want us to do is to keep their children safe. While this resolution doesn’t have the power to guarantee a child’s safety from all possible calamities, it does have the power to send a critical message. It intentionally names the baseline of school culture for all our students – whether immigrant or native-born – that Aurora Public Schools is a welcoming community, that we embrace our strength of diversity, that we protect families’ rights, that we care about students’ emotional wellbeing – not just their test scores – and that we stand beside all of them as they work to shape a successful future.