California Educator

April/May 2020

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to distract themselves with social media and other activities. But there's no escape from the constant worry. "I'm trying very hard to cherish the things I now have," says the girl who was crying. " You never know when everything might be taken away from you." Students are losing hope e trauma experienced at Hoover High reflects what is hap- pening nationwide under the Trump administration's escalating crackdown on immigrants. (In February, news outlets reported that elite tactical agents were being deployed to various sanc- tuary cities to bolster Immigration and Customs Enforcement operations; ICE says operations have been scaled back during the COVID-19 pandemic, but many question that claim.) Stu- dents are traumatized, and it has negatively impacted their emotions, academic performance, attendance and behavior, say educators. Valladolid calls it a classroom crisis that is hurting an entire generation of students. "I want my students to come to school and learn and not worry about things beyond their control," says Valladolid, a member of San Diego Education Association (SDEA). "You can't treat trauma with discipline. Instead, you have to create a cul- ture where every student feels welcome and safe." In 2018, the UCLA Civil Rights Project surveyed staff in 730 U.S. public schools and found that 64 percent of employees said the stepped-up home raids, deportations and family separations hurt students. Ninety percent of administrators noted increased behavioral and emotional problems among immigrant students; 70 percent reported an academic decline and increased absen- teeism. A decreased desire to go to college was reported among older immigrant students. ey are giving up hope. Many think it no longer matters to do well in school. "Some kids are catatonic. Some kids won't eat. Some kids have given up trying. e horror that's raining down on these kids is stunning," says the study's lead author, UCLA professor Patricia Gándara. Paul McCarthy, a teacher at San Francisco International High School, can relate to the study's findings regarding student moti- vation since the 2016 election. "ere's definitely a change in immigrant students," says the United Educators of San Francisco member. "Before the elec- tion, it was easier to convince them of the value of getting good grades and going to college. Now that's a harder sell. We try to bring back alumni who have succeeded, so they will see success is possible." W hile California is a sanctuar y state and schools have declared themselves safe havens, many students are too fright- ened to trust school employees due to fear of being reported to authorities, the study reports. Shane Parmely, an English and art teacher at Bell Middle School in San Diego, became acutely aware of how immigra- tion issues can affect students a few years ago when one of her students burst into tears and confided that her mother had been deported, leaving the girl and three siblings in the care of an 18-year-old sister. "at really put the issue on the radar for me," says the SDEA member, who took the family shopping for food and immediately became an activist on behalf of immigrants. "at's when I first became aware that kids could be left alone to fend for themselves." Parmely, a 2019 CTA Human Rights Award recipient, works with nonprofits that provide food, shelter, transportation and medical care for immigrants as they await their appeals to be processed. She has opened her home to families needing shelter. "e reality is that families are being ripped apart and chil- dren are traumatized and coming to school that way," Parmely says. "Some display extreme behaviors, and then you find out one of their parents has been deported or their family "You can't treat trauma with discipline. Instead, you have to create a culture where every student feels welcome and safe." —Mario Valladolid, San Diego Education Association E D I T O R ' S N O T E : This story is part of our special report on how educators are handling students with trauma, stemming from natural disasters, poverty and more. The COVID-19 pandemic has added an additional traumatic layer to students' lives, particularly for immigrant and undocumented children and youth (see sidebar on page 31). Read the series at SPECIAL REPORT 25 A P R I L / M AY 2 0 2 0

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