|Posted by Chuck Olynyk on November 23, 2016 at 5:50 PM|
Today is Wednesday, November 23, 2016 and Day 323 of Year Seven. I’ve been on break, courtesy of LAUSD, to enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday. That means it should be about family. My kids are asking what I’ll be doing and I explained I wanted to do this solo, that I’d be cleaning at home, working on the workroom I call Resurrection Point (essentially my Batcave or Fortress of Solitude), to which one of my drill team angels replied, “That’ll be okay, Mr. O. You’ll be with us all day Friday.”
Looks like I have a branch of the family I needed to be reminded of. (“Mom, Dad, there’s a whole bunch of granddaughters you didn’t know about…”) and that got me thinking of family. And of the election results and what it could mean, especially in the community I teach in.
On November 9th, Boyle Heights, as was much opf the country, was reeling from the results of the Presidential election, indeed, over the House and Senate and Governors, as well. There was a lot of remembered rhetoric about Muslim registration, of women being objectified, of the now-politically correct relabeled Alt-Right, of the Wall (not Pink Floyd’s) and of a deportation force.
The threat of mass deportations is a threat taken seriously in this community. Every day, as I leave my classroom to go to practice, I pass by a huge banner whose subject is the Dream Act. Will that vanish, as an executive order is countermanded by a new one?
As I’ve said, the election results have caused concern. By Wednesday, former students had come to me, mentioning a walkout. I cringed, not really certain what a walkout might do, other than inflame matters. But the students reminded me what I’d taught them about civil disobedience, that there is always a price to be paid and they had to decide for themselves that the action was worth the cost.
On Thursday, November 10th, an abortive walkout was attempted, but students had passed the word they wanted to be better organized and rescheduled for that Monday. Some walked out after lunch, anyway, but the word seemed to have been passed pretty effectively. At least I got caught up on grading during those periods.
On Monday, November 14th, they made it so at the break. http://ktla.com/2016/11/14/l-a-students-planning-anti-trump-walkouts-monday/ As KTLA reported it, “Hundreds of students on Monday morning walked out of several LAUSD schools as part of a planned demonstration to protest the results of the recent election…” NPR reported it as students from Garfield High School met up with their arch-rivals from Roosevelt and marched on to a demonstration at Mariachi Plaza in Boyle Heights. Along the way, the protesters also picked up students from Torres and Mendez High Schools.
The demonstrations, both at Mariachi Plaza and by City Hall were well-organized, peaceful examples of that First Amendment right of freedom of assembly. When I posted about this, I was met with a barrage of negative comments, implying that students were only walking out to get out of class, that teachers who allowed it should have been fired.
They were unable to accept that as we teach kids to become independent thinkers, that these children might actually apply what they had learned to their own situations. As one of my kids pointed out to me, there is a poster in my room which reads, “Stand up for the truth, even if you have to stand alone.”
Since that peaceful walkout, I’ve lost several friends, who feel that teachers were abusing their positions of trust. Two days later, the LAUSD School Board announced schools would stay “safe zones” for students http://ktla.com/2016/11/16/l-a-education-board-sends-message-to-trump-schools-will-stay-safe-zones-for-students-in-u-s-illegally/ They voted to reaffirm a resolution not to allow Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents on campuses unless approved by the Superintendent and attorneys for LAUSD. It’s symbolic, true, this stand for “affirming the American ideals that are celebrated in Los Angeles,” and ICE considers schools in the same category as churches—don’t go in there. Don’t conduct raids. Shades of Quasimodo rescuing the Gypsy, crying “Sanctuary!” This essentially restates what was stated back in February http://www.latimes.com/local/education/lausd/la-me-edu-ice-agents-school-campuses-20160209-story.html
An outraged friend commented, “We’ll see.”
On Monday, November 21st, Mayor Eric Garcetti, LAUSD officials and LAPD spokespeople met in front of Roosevelt High with students who were concerned about President-elect Trump’s plans. “Garcetti Doubles Down on L.A. Being Sanctuary City for Immigrants” http://abc7.com/politics/garcetti-doubles-down-on-la-being-sanctuary-city-for-immigrants/1619393/
Students expressed fear. Why wouldn’t they? “‘A lot of them are scared for their families. If their parents are undocumented, etcetera, they're scared about what's going to happen…’”
Then there’s another voice: “’The idea that a city would decide to ignore federal law and then want the federal government to help them anyway, it's an inconsistent position for those local governments to continue to engage in,’ Trump's press secretary Reince Preibus has stated and that local governments were required to abide by federal law. The stick would be the potential threat of federal funds being pulled from Los Angeles, despite the money helping to fund the Port of Los Angeles and Los Angeles International Airport.
And now Mayor Garcetti, who must act as a local leader and think of those for whom he is responsible for. He chose to echo LAUSD and the LAPD: Los Angeles would not act as immigration police. “‘Immigration is the responsibility of our federal government. We've been very clear it's not the responsibility of LAPD… We participate all the time with our federal immigration authorities and we will continue to do so. We just require, as the courts have decided, that there be a warrant…”
For every act of civil disobedience, there is a price, and one must be willing to pay the price when presented the bill.