What Does It Mean To Be An American School In The Trump Era?

President Trump's recent executive action against refugees and immigrants has made clear the reality that we must not only take his campaign rhetoric seriously, but also literally.  According to multiple reports, US border agents are checking immigrant social media accounts for their political views before allowing them in the country. The executive order also prioritizes entry for Christians from the Middle East over Muslims.  While it is not clear how this will be done, it certainly seems like a "religious test".  These actions run contrary to the 1st, 5th and 14th amendments to the Constitution.  Trump's executive action states: "The United States cannot, and should not, admit those who do not support the Constitution, or those who would place violent ideologies over American law." It appears clear to me that it is Trump who represents a greater threat to our Constitution than any immigrant possibly could.
There is no doubt that these executive actions are leaving a stain on our country. One that will never be truly erased.  The image of the United States abroad has taken a severe hit. Where does this leave us as educators working in American Schools?  Our schools preach inclusion, empathy and internationalism.  If you were to survey American schools abroad you would surely see the way that we celebrate diversity and welcome an array of ethnicities, nationalities and religions.  Local and foreign nationals seek our schools out for this reason.  Now what? How will people view "American schools"? What does it mean to spread the "American style of education" in the Trump Era?

As our students arrive on campus this week at our American schools, many of them will now know that they are no longer welcome to travel to the United States. For our juniors and seniors who are pondering their university choices, many will need to strike the US off of their list for fear of having their visas rejected based on their nationalities.  At a minimum, our schools need to express to all of our students that we reject President Trump's actions and that we will provide safe harbor for students of all nationalities and religions. We must not be silent on this issue, or else we will be allowing Trump to actively redefine our schools without our permission. As educators we have always sought to remain neutral on politics so as to nurture multiple points of view.  I fully agree with that.  This issue is not a political one; it is moral.  And it is our moral imperative not to remain silent. I hope that international educators in American schools can band together to send a message to the State Department that we reject the Muslim ban.  I would like to hear from other international educators to know how you are dealing with this question at your schools.  We must remember that our students are watching us and they will read our silence as consent. 

Comments

  1. Good question, Jeff. We are struggling with the fallout at UNIS .....silence is not an option.

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    1. Thanks for commenting Jane. This will certainly be a bumpy ride for all of us who are working towards international mindedness and inclusion. Political and moral fault lines are becoming fairly blurry.

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    2. Just a thought. It would be great if international school heads at the AAIE conference gathered together to make a statement. Not sure if all the heads would be comfortable with that, given boards that they might be working with, but it might be worth a shot.

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  2. Jeff,

    Your posts are always thought-provoking and to the heart. It's been interesting (to say the least) being back in the United States for the last several months. Working with elementary and middle school students, who are coming to age, and finding their unique identities, is quite a feat itself. Mix in a president who uses fear and hate-mongering as a "tactic," is disconcerting. How do we promote and foster student voice during a time like this? How to we continue to engage students and teach them to be inclusive, kind, and compassionate towards others, when we have a leader who acts the opposite?

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    1. Jamie. Thanks for commenting. There is no doubt that having a president who is a compulsive liar, narcissist and bully is going to influence our students in negative ways. It already has. This is why I think we need to divide the moral and political issues and take a stand. This isn't about our views of Obamacare or the Israel policy, or even global warming. It is fundamentally about how we expect people to treat each other. Take care... miss working with you.

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  3. Jeff. Some very clear thinking, the struggle continues! Ramona and I are Marching tomorrow in Falmouth, MA. Your work is so important, keep on leading and working with our youth to produce informed and compassionate leaders. Leaders who are prepared to solve Global problems, many of which are being exacerbated by Trump INC!

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