Teachers are on the front lines to protect students targeted by the Trump administration: immigrant students, Muslim students, transgender students. Never in our national history has the federal government threatened the safety and security of students. It is a new and terrible day in America.

Teachers are first responders in protecting their students.

The article reports on a march sponsored by New York’s Alliance for Quality Education.

“Those civil rights are extremely important…. People want to be protected from ICE agents and they want to be protected from homophobic bullying,” says Billy Easton, executive director of the Alliance. “But they also want to be provided the quality education that’s going to open up the opportunities in life that they deserve.”

The social principle of education as a public trust resonates beyond school grounds. The March also demanded reforms to state criminal statutes that enable youth as young as 16 to be tried as adults for certain felonies. And in resistance to standardized testing and rigid math and reading standards, activists seek holistic, multicultural curricula that speaks to students struggling with structural oppression and poverty.

Allie, a young high-school teacher, attended the rally on behalf of her Brooklyn school, which serves as a last resort for “at risk” youth who have gotten caught up with jails and police. There, she says, “the kids who are having the hardest life outside of school and would need more social workers, two teachers in a room, extra help—[they] go to the schools that don’t have the resources to provide that…. They get blamed for not getting through because we’re still under this idea of the American dream where it’s their fault; they just didn’t work hard enough. And they work their asses off.”

But she learns every day from her students’ determination: They brave the unimaginable just to get to class, for a chance to get the equal education they deserve.

“I’ve seen my students over the summer begging for money to eat in the subway…. They’ll take the free lunch that they get and they’ll give it to their kid…. They are so strong. And the fact that they’re still trying to get themselves educated is amazing.”