As we begin the new school year, I am reminded of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I have a dream” speech delivered 54 years ago in front of the Lincoln Memorial.
On Aug. 28, 1963, King unapologetically challenged our country’s past and charged each one of us with the responsibility to create a better future for our children and our children’s children – no matter who they are, no matter who they love, no matter how they worship, and no matter where they were born.
On Sept. 5 of this year, President Trump announced he would be rescinding the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program. For five years, DACA has allowed certain immigrants who entered the country as minors without documentation to receive a renewable two-year period of deferred action from deportation and eligibility for a work permit. These young people, known as “Dreamers,” now face an uncertain future that could include expulsion from the only country they have ever known.
Our richly diverse school district is home to many Dreamers.
Facing significant criticism over both the intent and impact of his decision, President Trump has turned the matter over to Congress to provide legislation that might guide the process and timeline toward an alternative resolution. While immigration officials say they do not intend to target young immigrants, there are many unknowns as to how this change in policy will affect our communities and schools. This uncertainty may intensify fears that already plague our students and families who are undocumented, or those who know someone who is undocumented.
I want to reiterate Kent School District’s commitment to serve every student. As Chris Reykdal, superintendent of Washington State Superintendent of Public Instruction, recently said, “Our state constitution compels us to serve all kids, and we will continue to be a beacon of hope for learners in our state until Congress can establish a more solid footing for these kids and their families.”
Our district adheres to three core values: equity, excellence, and community. We serve every student who enters our schools, and we will continue providing all students access to quality educational experiences so they may achieve success in whatever college, career or life path they choose.
Let me say again, we will reach and teach every student who comes to our school district. And we will do so with love, compassion and respect until each one of their dreams comes true.
Calvin J. Watts is superintendent of the Kent School District. Reach him at 253-373-7701 or Calvin.Watts@kent.k12.wa.us.