Under its CEO Tom Torkelsen, the charter chain IDEA experienced explosive growth, dramatic success in winning nearly $200 million in federal funds from Betsy DeVos and the federal Charter Schools Program, but multiple scandals involving lavish spending on personal perks, like a lease on a private jet, first-class travel, and box seats at sporting events.

Torkelsen announced his resignation in April, and the board has agreed to give him severance pay of $900,000. Just like a public school superintendent, right?

Stephen Dyer, who served in the Ohio legislature and is an expert in school finance, writes here that vouchers hurt poor kids and explains why. It is important to bear in mind that no state offers vouchers large enough to pay for a high-quality private school. Most voucher students attend low-quality religious schools. When anyone claims that vouchers enable poor kids to have the same choices as rich kids, they are lying.

He begins:

As has been recently reported in the Columbus Dispatch and other places, a group of public education advocates is looking to sue the state over the EdChoice voucher system — an argument I’ve been making for years.

But in the article, pro-voucher forces make a curious argument — that those seeking to undo the harm voucher do to primarily poor and special need kids are actually trying to hurt those kids.

“It’s an all-time low for government school activists to try to rip low-income and special-needs students out of their schools right now,” said Aaron Baer, president of Citizens for Community Values.

“It’s clear that this special-interest group cares less about what’s best for kids, and more about their own narrow social agenda. Ohio’s EdChoice program is a lifeline to tens of thousands of families. It allows underprivileged and underserved children the opportunity to find an education that best meets their needs.”

First of all, it’s not “government school”; it’s “public school”, which means our school. None other than Thomas Jefferson described it this way in the Land Ordiannce of 1785. “Public school” were Jefferson’s words.

But I digress.

Here’s the problem. Yes. It’s true that poor and special needs students get vouchers and attend private schools using them. However, in order for that to happen, poor and special needs students in the public schools who don’t take the voucher are left with fewer resources for their educations because the vouchers exist.

This is why, for example, as a state legislator I always voted against the special needs voucher that eventually became the Jon Peterson Voucher program. Because it set aside 1/3 of the money the state spent on special needs students to serve 3 percent of the special needs kids. So the voucher program would leave 97 percent of special needs students with only 2/3 of the money they needed.

Let’s look at Parma with its 47% economically disadvanatged and nearly 2/3 minority populations.

Prior to losing voucher money and students, kids in Parma were slated to receive $13,663 per pupil in state and local funding for their educations. However, once all the vouchers were removed from the district, along with the students, kids in Parma only got $13,426. That’s a $236 per pupil loss in total aid, which means there wasn’t enough locally raised revenue to make up for the revenue these kids lost to the state’s voucher programs.

So while some poor and special needs students certainly got vouchers, far more poor and special needs students in Parma got $236 less than they needed because of the vouchers.

In fact, in nearly 3 of 4 Ohio school districts, every poor and special needs student got less overall funding because of the voucher…

So vouchers either directly harm poor and special needs students by cutting their overall education fudning, or force poorer communities to tax themselves at higher rates to make up for the loss of state aid from the state’s voucher programs — in clear violation of the Ohio Supreme Court’s four rulings.

Oh yeah, and in 8 of 10 Ohio school districts where private voucher providers reside, the school district outperforms the private option by an average of 27 percentage points. When privates outperform districts, it’s in 2 of 10 cases and by only 9 percentage points.

A few days ago, Carol Burris and Marla Kilfoyle of the Network for Public Education wrote an article in Valerie Strauss’s “Answer Sheet” about the charter schools that are claiming federal funds designated for small businesses, thwarting the intention of the legislators. Public schools are not eligible for the PPP relief funds, but—presto chango—the money-hungry charters decided they are not public schools after all, they are really small businesses. Next week, they will again claim to be public schools, not small businesses.

Congress created the Payroll Protection Plan to aid small businesses that were at risk of bankruptcy because of losing all their revenue. For many of these small businesses, a federal grant of $25,000-$50,000 would enable them to survive the shutdown. Think of the restaurants, toy stores, stationery shops, barber shops, hair dressers, shoe stores, florists, that will never open again. They did not get federal aid. But some greedy charter schools have taken advantage of PPP, collecting hundreds of thousands of dollars even though they have not lost a penny of revenue.

It’s not easy to identify the charter schools that took money that was supposed to go to endangered small businesses. They must know it’s wrong, because they try to hide their windfall.

For taking money that should have gone to small businesses, for pretending to be small businesses, for hypocritically claiming to be public schools while applying for funding as small businesses, I place these charter operators on the blog’s Wall of Shame.

Carol Burris continues to learn about charter schools that applied for and received federal PPP funding, despite their lack of need. She writes about them here:

Americans were outraged when big companies with more than 500 employees cashed in on PPP loans intended to help small businesses. For example, the Washington Post reported that various hotel companies all chaired by Republican donor Monty Bennett submitted more than 100 filings to seek $126 million. By creating individual filings, they were able to get around the 500 employee cap. The hotel chain got $76 million in the end.

Now it appears that the Mastery Charter chain is using the same tactic to cash in on payment protection plan loans (PPP) loans.

Each school in the chain has its own board; however all are under the direction of one CEO, Scott Gordon, who received a 2017 salary in excess of $300,000.

According to the Mastery website, the chain has over 1700 employees. What, then, does the Mastery charter chain do? It has each of its individual schools apply for a PPP loan.

See for yourself by reading their board minutes here and here. Notice each charter school in the chain, with the exception of the Camden school, is having its own board meeting at the same group meeting at the same time. And every one of the schools in the chain is applying for the SBA PPP funding.

Meanwhile, the unemployment system of the state of Pennsylvania is crashing from the flood of claims. And Mastery Charter Schools are still amply funded by federal, state and local tax dollars, as well as receiving public school funding in the CARES Act.

Mastery likes to call itself a public school district. So why is it seeking advantage with PPP loans at the expense of Philadelphia’s small businesses that have no revenue stream at all?

The National Superintendents Roundtable published a report calling on tech vendors to get out of the way during the pandemic and “Just Stop It.”

COVID-19 has unleashed a tsunami of work for school superintendents as they distribute food to students, implement distance learning, and prepare for a different fall school environment. What’s not helping, they say, is a flood of sales calls from technology vendors offering to help.

The Roundtable surveyed its members on this issue and the responses, in a report entitled Just Stop It!, reveal a deep vein of irritation with marketing campaigns aimed at schools during the pandemic.

A press release detailing the study’s findings was published in 142 outlets in a matter of hours, ranging from Dow newsletters and Yahoo Finance to publications from Nevada to Pennsylvania. These outlets hold a potential audience in the millions. Very detailed accounts of the study were also published by Brian Bradley in Education Week and Dian Schaffhauser in The Journal.

The complete report on the study’s findings can be found here.

Robert Kuttner is editor of The American Prospect. Here he writes that Biden has asked Rahm Emanuel to advise him. What Kuttner fails to mention is Rahm’s disastrous control of the Chicago public schools. He should be forever stigmatized by his decision to close 50 public schools in a single day. He was continually at war with the Chicago Teachers Union. To know him, if you value public schools, is to loathe him.

Kuttner writes:

MAY 29, 2020

Kuttner on TAP

Say It Ain’t So, Joe: Rahm Emanuel?? Just when you thought that Team Biden couldn’t get any worse than Larry Summers, we now learn courtesy of the Chicago Tribune that Clinton and Obama alum Rahm Emanuel is a Biden adviser.

A quick refresher (or maybe emetic) on Emanuel. He began as a staffer in the Clinton White House where he helped push through NAFTA, then went to Wall Street to make his fortune (he made $16 million in less than three years). From there, he got elected to Congress where he epitomized everything bad about the revolving door.

As head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, he arranged to load up the House Financial Services Committee with Wall Street Democrats who sought the prized seat to raise lots of Wall Street money and protect Wall Street’s financial interests. This made the job of Chairman Barney Frank much harder when Congress was working on what became the Dodd-Frank Act.

Obama, looking for someone who knew Congress, selected Emanuel as his White House chief of staff, where he was a force for lowballing recovery outlays. He tried to talk Obama out of proposing the Affordable Care Act.

After exiting the White House, he got elected mayor of Chicago in 2011, where his approval ratings dropped to 18 percent following the police shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald and the city’s bungled attempt to withhold evidence. Emanuel initially announced for a third term, but pulled out. He then joined the private equity firm Centerview Partners.

Just the guy to advise Biden. Though events are conspiring to push Biden to the left, his default setting is to reach out to the old boys of the Obama years.

Meanwhile, polls show that Elizabeth Warren is the possible running mate most likely to help Biden get elected. The two have been doing a public mating ritual, but the Wall Street Democrats close to Biden will do everything possible to keep her from being named.

If by some miracle Warren is selected, it will be trench warfare, with Wall Street Dems demanding one of their kind for the power posts of Fed Chair, Treasury Secretary, and head of the National Economic Council to balance Warren.

Rahm Emanuel! A good thing that Andrew Mellon is dead and Bernie Madoff is indisposed.

For those of us old enough to remember the protests against racism and police brutality in the late 1960s, the outrage of African Americans has a sad and sickening familiarity. It’s sad because yet another black man was killed by police officers although he was not resisting arrest (and even had he been resisting arrest, the officers were wrong to apply lethal force to an unarmed person). It is sickening because so little has changed in 50+ years.

We don’t have to think back to the 1960s for examples of racism and racial profiling. We see it now, with disgusting, appalling frequency.

Some important things have changed: our nation twice elected a black man as president. Yet so much remains unchanged: segregated neighborhoods, segregated schools, persistent inequality and disparate treatment.

And now a federal administration that exploits and encourages racism, as it did in Charlottesville when neo-Nazis marched and brazenly displayed their bigotry and hatred. And a president who appoints federal judges who can’t say whether the Brown decision was correctly decided in 1954.

Black Lives Matter. Colin Kaepernick was right. Symbolic statements and gestures matter but they don’t change injustice. We need change in enforcement.

We need a Justice Department committed to protecting the rights of all Americans and to defending the most vulnerable and to enforcing civil rights laws. We need a president who sets a moral example and stands forcefully against racism in word and deed.

Whoever is president creates a tone and climate that others take as a signal of what is appropriate.

Vote. Vote. Vote as if your life depends on it. It does. Vote for justice. Vote for decency. Vote to defend civil rights.

Amy Frogge is one of the heroes of my book SLAYING GOLIATH. A lawyer, she ran for the Metro Nashville school board with no foreknowledge of the privatization movement. She ran as a concerned citizen and a mother of children in the public schools of Nashville. The privatizers outspent her 5-1, but she won. When she got on the board, she realized that there was a sustained and well-funded campaign to replace public schools with charters. She became a truth-teller, motivated by her deep concern for the common good.

When she ran for re-election, she again faced a well-financed opponent, backed by Gates-funded Stand for Children and DFER. Frogge scored an overwhelming victory.

Amy Frogge is still fighting the fake reformers.

Every school board needs an Amy Frogge, who sees clearly and is not afraid to speak truth to power.

She recently wrote an open letter denouncing Eli Broad and his Broadies.

She wrote:

Dear Nashville (and others),

Please pay attention to those with whom you choose to align yourself on education issues. If you are supporting anyone funded or trained by California billionaire Eli Broad, you can bet you’ll end up on the wrong side of history.

Eli Broad created and funds a blog called Education Post. The folks who run it would like for you to believe they are just activists for low-income families and minority children- but in reality, they are dripping with dirty money. Education Post’s first CEO, Peter Cunningham, was paid $1 million for 2 1/2 years of blogging. Board member Chris Stewart, known online as “Citizen Stewart,” was paid $422,925 for 40 hours a week across 30 months as “outreach and external affairs director.” As author/blogger Mercedes Schneider concludes, “In ed reform, blogging pays juicy salaries.” (For the record, I have never earned a penny for any of my social media posts, of course.)

Paid Education Post leaders regularly try to infiltrate online Nashville education discussions (Nashville is a national target for charter expansion), and Education Post also pays local bloggers to write posts. Local bloggers Zack Barnes and Vesia Hawkins are both listed as network members on the Education Post blog.

Many of the big players in Tennessee were “trained” by Eli Broad through his Broad Superintendents Academy, which recruits business leaders with no background in education to be superintendents- with the purpose of privatizing schools (closing existing schools and opening more charter schools). The current Tennessee Commissioner of Education, Penny Schwinn, is a “Broadie.” Two former heads of Tennessee’s failed Achievement School District (a ploy to expand charter schools without local approval) were Broadies: Chris Barbic and Malika Anderson. Former superintendents Jim McIntyre (of Knoxville) and Shawn Joseph (of Nashville) were also affiliated with the Broad network. Shawn Joseph claimed both McIntyre and former Baltimore superintendent Dallas Dance, a member of Education Post’s network, as his mentors.

The school “reforms” pushed by Broadies all center around profit-making through public education: standardized testing (money for private test companies), computer learning (money for IT companies and cost-savings on hiring teachers), charter schools, vouchers, scripted curriculum that can be monetized, etc. Broadies typically see teachers as expendable and believe teaching can be mechanized.

Since charters and vouchers have become an increasingly unpopular cause, the latest angle is for Broadies to increase the number of (sometimes rigged) vendor contracts for programs and services, as well as consultants, with school districts. Former Baltimore superintendent Dallas Dance went to federal prison for rigging no-bid contracts in a kick-back scheme. In a similar scheme, his mentee (Nashville superintendent) Shawn Joseph was caught inflating no-bid contract prices (in violation of state law) for vendors connected with the recruiter and Broadies who placed him in Nashville through a rigged superintendent search. (See comments for further information.)

Billionaires like Eli Broad who fund school profiteering efforts like to hire/fund people of color to act as front-men for their efforts. This provides the appearance that the push for “school choice” (i.e., charters and vouchers) is grassroots. When these folks are questioned or caught in the midst of wrong-doing, they are able to cry racism. Meanwhile, everyone has their hands in the cookie jar of funding meant to serve children.

The ploys used in school profiteering are particularly nasty- the worst of dirty politics. The goal is usually to smear, humiliate, shame and discredit anyone who is an effective critic of the school privatization agenda. Lots of money is spent on PR for this purpose. (I’ve even been attacked on this Facebook page by a paid “social media specialist” for my opposition to charter schools.)

You’ll notice that the atmosphere tends to become particularly dysfunctional and circus-like when Broadies are in charge or involved. You’ll also notice that Broadies like to push the narrative that locally-elected school boards are too dysfunctional to lead (even when the Broadie in charge is causing all the dysfunction!). This is because Eli Broad and those affiliated with him want no public oversight of public education spending.

So- when you witness education conversations on social media, be sure to figure out who is funding those claiming to promote “school choice” or to advocate for children in poverty. Follow the money, y’all. Always!

I am late with this news. I missed the email informing me. Too many emails. It happened at the end of April. But it’s important because the Disrupters have targeted Nashville as one of their prime targets for privatization.

So it’s big news that the Metro Nashville school board turned down five applications for new charter schools.

At a time of fiscal austerity, the board recognized that it can’t afford to maintain two separate school systems.

The Metro Nashville Public Schools board denied five charter school applications Tuesday as the school district braces for the possibility of deep budget cuts and little new money for next year.

In addition to pointing to the need for fiscal belt-tightening, board members raised concerns that none of the applications before them fully met the district’s expectations for charter schools.

“Our budgetary future is uncertain,” said Amy Frogge, the board’s vice chair and a longtime charter school critic. “We have to prioritize where those funds go. We can chose to open charter seats or we can chose to pay our teachers and our staff members and really that’s what it comes down to.”

The mayor of Nashville has asked the board to find $100 million in budget cuts.

Critics say charter schools, which receive public money but are operated independently, pull students, money and resources away from zoned schools. Proponents have said they allow choices for parents and alleviate needs at some schools.

Nashville now is projected to spend $139 million on the city’s 28 charter schools, which enroll nearly 13,000 students.

Bill Lee, the governor of Tennessee, is a DeVos acolyte. He plans to create a new charter commission with the power to overturn local decisions. You can bet that every member he appoints will be a charter zealot.

Nashville doesn’t need any new charter schools.

While the nation is distracted by the pandemic, the Trump administration is continuing its cruel practice of separating children fromtheir immigrant parents.

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WASHINGTON — Dad lives about 10 miles from the White House, stringing together gardening jobs, not letting the kids touch him when he gets home for fear of contagion.
Mom lives in a makeshift refugee camp on the border in Matamoros, Mexico, one of the world’s most dangerous cities, rationing soap.

Three of the children — ages 10, 14, and 16 — just joined their father, Jose, after winning release from a government shelter where they had been held for more than two months. Now, they have deportation orders hanging over their heads.

U.S. officials are fighting in court to take the three children and deport them to El Salvador — to no one. The only way to avoid being separated from their parents, officials say, would be for their mother in Mexico to give up, too. Government lawyers said they’d put her on a plane with the kids if she agreed to return to El Salvador and never again try to join her husband in the U.S.

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This is the new family separation, two years after taking kids from their parents at the border blew up into a crisis for the Trump administration. Citing the coronavirus to seal the border to an unprecedented extent, the administration is engaged in a pressure campaign against immigrant parents to get them to give up either their kids or their legal claims to protection in the U.S.

Scores of migrant families across the country are being targeted, according to court documents and more than 20 officials, judges, lawyers and migrants. Many spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of jeopardizing their legal cases.

The fates of many of them may hinge on Jose’s family’s case, which has become a test of the administration’s latest policies to bar migrant kids and families, said Claudia Cubas, the litigation director for the Capital Area Immigrants’ Rights Coalition, and Jose’s lawyer.

With Jose’s family’s case the furthest along in the courts, “this is either going to make it or break it for people,” she said.

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Administration officials deny that they are deliberately trying to separate families.

“Consistent with President Trump’s June 20, 2018, executive order, it is the policy of the administration to maintain family unity,” Immigration and Customs Enforcement said in a statement.

The statement came after ICE officials this month presented the roughly 180 parents in its custody with the choice of separating from their children or remaining indefinitely detained with them, according to government filings in court and legal service providers. Several hundred more unaccompanied children have been united with a sponsor in the U.S., like Jose’s children, but remain at risk. ICE declined to say how many have final removal orders.

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Advocates argue that unaccompanied minors are entitled to receive immigration hearings under U.S. law. Government attorneys maintain that many of the children had a hearing under the administration’s “Remain in Mexico” policy after they first arrived at the border and still face deportation, even if that has the effect of dividing them from their parents. The Remain in Mexico policy requires people seeking asylum in the U.S. to wait in Mexico throughout their court hearings.

“There has been due process afforded to those minor children,” one administration lawyer said in a May hearing for Jose’s family, citing the previous proceedings.

Bridget Cambria, a lawyer with the Aldea People’s Justice Center in Pennsylvania, represents detained parents who testified that ICE officials pressured them to separate from their children, rejected the claim that the government’s actions constitute due process.

“Whatever you want to call it,” said Cambria. “It’s asking mothers and fathers to give up their kids.”

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Attorney Claudia Cubas talks to Jose and his children in April
Attorney Claudia Cubas talks to Jose and his children in April, shortly after they were released from a government shelter. (Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)
Jose’s three daughters — ages 16, 14, and 11 — are about as tall as he is. The 10-year-old boy doesn’t leave his father’s side.

In less than a year, the two oldest girls and their little brother have gone from safe-houses in El Salvador to a tent on the Rio Grande to a government shelter, and now to a home in a Washington suburb with a green lawn, a bicycle and a driveway.

Jose mostly speaks for them. He still doesn’t feel safe, even in the U.S.: MS-13, the gang in El Salvador that told his wife they’d kill the kids if she didn’t tell where he was, has offshoots in Maryland.

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“There’s still this sadness in them,” Jose said of his children. “The biggest change that I’ve seen is that now that we’re here, it’s like they can breathe again.”

In El Salvador, Jose was a street preacher. The gangs ordered him to stop, but he wouldn’t. He met his wife, who also proselytized, at their evangelical church. MS-13 had killed her first husband, the two eldest girls’ biological father, in 2006.

Jose fled first, thinking the threats to the family would lessen if he were gone. He crossed the border with his youngest daughter in Laredo, Texas, just short of one year ago. The decision to come separately — they couldn’t afford to bring everyone at one time — has splintered the family in the U.S. immigration system.

Jose told U.S. officials at the border that he was afraid of persecution in El Salvador and was allowed to go to Maryland, where he has a brother and close friend.

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By the time Jose’s wife and the three other kids arrived at the border about three months later, the Trump administration had imposed its Remain in Mexico policy across the entire southern border, dramatically changing the rules. Officials turned the four back to Matamoros.

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In January, an immigration judge in Texas denied their asylum claims. Jose’s wife believed the judge said she could not appeal without a lawyer.

In roughly four months in Matamoros, the kids had “suffered physical and sexual assault; endured illness, extreme temperatures, and malnutrition,” according to a legal filing. Ten days after the judge ruled, Jose and his wife decided she should take the children to the bridge and send them across the border on their own.

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Many parents have chosen to take that chance rather than risk keeping their children in the refugee camps along the border. Of some 65,000 migrants subject to Remain in Mexico, at least 1,114 have been kidnapped, raped or assaulted in Mexico, including children, according to Human Rights First. Of asylum seekers subject to the policy, fewer than 1% have ultimately been granted relief.

On Jan. 17, the three children turned themselves in to U.S. officials at the port of entry between Matamoros and Brownsville, Texas, and were designated as unaccompanied minors, affording them special protections under the law, including a hearing before an immigration judge.

As soon as officials located Jose, he applied for custody. But the reunification stalled when the government discovered the kids had prior removal orders dating from the ruling against them and their mother in January.

Cubas and the children’s legal team sued for their release in March. The case has moved through the immigration system and federal court.

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For already traumatized children, Cubas said, “it’s been an emotional roller coaster.”

In the little boy’s legal declaration — in El Salvador, the family moved so much to hide from the gangs that he never learned to read and can hardly write — he says he doesn’t really remember what happened after they crossed into the U.S. “because I’m little.”

“I miss my mom I don’t know what is happening to her,” he said. “I don’t want to return to Mexico because it is a bad place and in El Salvador the gangs are after us.”

Jose’s wife
Jose’s wife, seen in April, is stuck in a makeshift refugee camp on the border in Matamoros, Mexico. She faces dim prospects for reuniting with her family.(Javier Escalante / Los Angeles Times)
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Their mother now lives alone in a blue-tarp tent in Matamoros.

“It’s just me left here,” she said in an interview last month.

The camp, which exploded in size with Remain in Mexico, has no cleaning materials or private bathrooms. Many people bathe in the muddy Rio Grande, where her three kids once saw a dead body floating. Sickness is rampant.

Public health advocates and experts have warned that a coronavirus outbreak in the migrant camps along the border would be devastating.

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The mother is not so worried for her kids anymore, now that they’re in Maryland with Jose. She says she talks to them every day.

The legal battle over the children has left Jose trying to play the part of both parents amid a pandemic. He takes as many precautions as he can.

“I have to provide for them,” he said, “but then I’m exposing myself.”

He’s even more worried for his wife in Mexico. So long as they’re apart, he said, “I have this gap in my heart.”

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A young migrant named Stephanie
A young migrant named Stephanie, 10, near the Rio Grande in Matamoros, Mexico.(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)
On May 8, lawyers for the government submitted a proposal for Jose’s family:

If the children agreed to “their expeditious and immediate repatriation to El Salvador” and withdrew their suits against the government, and if their mother presented herself at the border, ICE would deport them together to El Salvador, “thus, ensuring that Plaintiffs remain in the care of a parent.”

But, they warned in a footnote, should Jose’s wife try to pursue her immigration case, they could send the kids to El Salvador alone.

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“To be removed with her children, Plaintiffs’ mother would have to immediately elect an expeditious reunification and joint repatriation with her children,” they wrote, “and choose to forego further action.”

They are far from the only family to be presented with such a choice; a very similar case involving two sisters, 8 and 11, unfolded recently in Texas.

The girls crossed the border by themselves after their father was mugged in Matamoros, where they’d been required to stay under the administration’s policy after seeking asylum last September. Their mother, who entered the U.S. on an existing tourist visa and is also applying for asylum, is in Houston. Thirty minutes before the girls were due to be reunited with her, ICE moved to deport them to El Salvador.

After lawyers filed suit, the girls were released to their mother. ICE has agreed not to deport them until a decision by the immigration appeals court — but they still have removal orders.

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“This is another form of family separation, and it’s quite in your face,” said Elizabeth Sanchez Kennedy, immigration legal services Director at YMCA International Services, who represents them.

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At a hearing in early May in Jose’s family’s case, federal district Judge Randolph D. Moss said he was “troubled” by the government’s effort to “orphan” the children.

“The plaintiffs here are very young,” Moss said.

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“You’re taking a nine-year-old child, removing that child from the parent and sending that child to a place in which the child has no guardian.”

With the judge questioning the constitutionality of separating Jose’s family, ICE said it would hold off on deporting the children until November or a decision by the immigration appeals court. That allows Jose time to pursue his separate asylum claim.

Getting a hearing, however, is no easy feat, with already backlogged immigration courts thrown into further chaos by the coronavirus. Already, Jose has been waiting close to a year for the Baltimore immigration court to schedule one.

Ashley Tabaddor, president of the National Assn. of Immigration Judges, noted that the administration repeatedly has pushed back Remain in Mexico hearings while insisting that unaccompanied children continue to attend court during the pandemic.

“It’s clearly more driven by law enforcement priorities than health considerations,” Tabaddor said.

Meanwhile, ICE’s stay is at the agency’s discretion; Jose’s kids still face removal orders. If he ultimately wins asylum, he likely could include his children, and potentially their mother.

In Matamoros, she said she will never allow her children to return to El Salvador.

“My wish is to be with my children there in America one day,” she said. “But if it is my turn to return, I have already lived my life. They are just beginning to live.”

SIG

A reader with the anonymous sobriquet “Kindergarten Interlude” writes:


For my kindergartners distance-learning was never fun. And Lord knows for me it is not just a challenge but truly sad. How do you connect with five and six-year-olds through a computer screen? And the parents are losing it. I give them a lot of credit!

Of course I am trying to make the best of this for my students, but gone is the essence of teaching and learning in kindergarten: The human touch, the facial expressions, the spontaneous moments, the joy – reading and singing and dancing and yoga and Simon Says and Thumbs Up at the end of the day. And Discovery Centers (my code word for play centers)- teamwork and problem-solving and using one’s imagination and learning basic social skills like taking turns and sharing. There is great satisfaction (and joy!) in learning and practicing these skills and working together as a team. It is how friendships are planted and take root over the weeks and months of working and playing and learning together. Deep feelings of security and acceptance come from belonging to a community. A REAL community, not a screen.

So no, this was never fun and it is an untenable way to teach kindergarten and I imagine pretty much every grade.

Because at the end of the day, it is all about that beautiful community that is established. That’s the essence of successful teaching and learning in kindergarten.