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Tag: ELL

REPOST: Getting to know thy neighbor (Sun-Times Media)

President Barack Obama’s announcement today reminded me of this article I wrote about a year ago, documenting suburban Chicagoan Jesse Oxford’s efforts to start “a media-driven, culture-shaping movement seeking to inspire and mobilize young evangelical Christians towards championing the needs of immigrants.” It’s called “UN-Documented,” and you can watch a short video, choose an experience and join the conversation about it on Oxford’s website, UnDocumented.tv.

No matter what your opinion on immigration policy, or the Obama administration’s plan to not deport some young immigrants brought to the country illegally as children, it’s worth watching, experiencing and conversing about how that fits into how the Bible says we ought to love “the foreigner” (see Zechariah 7:10).

ELGIN — When David Miller glanced at his hand resting on the steering wheel of his car, it made him think twice.

The black, inky stamp on the back of his hand said “UN,” as in UN-documented, and it was part of an experience called “Become the Stranger” he organized at Judson University last week.

That experience asked participants to put themselves in the shoes of an undocumented immigrant for a day. They were to leave their identification at home and wear the stamp, both to encourage them to think about what that would mean and others to ask questions.

If he really were undocumented, Miller thought, would he risk driving over the speed limit, getting pulled over for speeding, being found without the proper documentation to be in the country?

Taking notes in class at Judson, the Algonquin resident glanced at his hands moving across the keyboard of his laptop.

If he really were undocumented, would he be able to afford that computer? He could have been a businessman in another country — but here, without documentation, he could be working as a “laborer,” he said.

“It makes me thankful for what I have. It’s so easy to take for granted,” Miller said.

“You grow up in Algonquin, you don’t think about this. I went to Dundee-Crown (in Carpentersville), but I was in band and all honors classes. It never occurred to me there are people walking in the hallways who are dealing with this.”

At the end of the day, he said, it made him frustrated more than anything: He had hoped the experience would spark conversation, but he had passed out only about 30 stamps to other students interested in participating. Only two people had asked him about the stamp on his hand. Nobody cared, he said.

That’s an experience an undocumented immigrant can relate to, said Jesse Oxford of East Dundee.

Oxford, who created the “Become the Stranger” experience around his eight-minute documentary “A New Dream,” pointed to a statistic from the Billy Graham Center: Less than one in 10 immigrants ever will be welcomed into the home of an American.

“That is an experience we are actually trying to change,” Oxford said.

For the rest of the story, read Getting to know thy neighbor (Sun-Times Media).

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Beholding Glory

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Weekly Wrap-Up: Catching up after a full week in the Northwoods…

I spent most of the weekend catching up on sleep, and most of the workday Monday catching up on email after I spent the first week of June with my nonprofit, Hope for the First Nations, on the White Earth Reservation in Minnesota. I plan to write more about that trip Monday on the blog.

Meantime, here are all the articles I wrote that week and this week for my day job at Sun-Times Media:

Photo credit: File photo for Sun-Times Media.

Expert explains ‘favorable’ impression of U46 gifted programming (Sun-Times Media)

CHICAGO — An education expert Wednesday praised a key Elgin School District U46 program for gifted minority students as the trial continued in the federal discrimination lawsuit against the district.

“As I understand from your testimony, you are very favorably impressed with the SET SWAS (Spanish English Transition School Within A School) program,” Judge Robert W. Gettleman said.

That’s true, replied Carolyn Callahan, a professor at the University of Virginia Curry School of Education.

In fact, Callahan said, she couldn’t think of anything she specifically would change about the program for gifted Spanish-speaking students in U46.

“I would say it’s a program that serves a very important function in helping students transition,” she said. “I’d like to see more students served by it.”

That program is at the center of the claim the second-largest school district in Illinois did not offer students who were black and Hispanic access to its gifted and academy programs.

The lawsuit against U46 also claims the district discriminated against minority students in its 2004 school boundary plan by placing them in overcrowded schools, and that it did not offer appropriate help to English Language Learner students.

For the rest of the story, read Expert explains ‘favorable’ impression of U46 gifted programming (Sun-Times Media).

U46 officials: No discussion about segregation in ’04 boundary changes (Sun-Times Media)

CHICAGO — It was “the smoothest opening of the school year in every way,” according to Jim Feuerborn, then-assistant superintendent of management services in School District U46.

The buses had picked up and dropped off students on time, Feuerborn said. The books and lunches all were where they needed to be.

And that came at the start of the 2004-05 school year, as major boundary changes took effect in the Elgin school district and it recovered from a financial crisis discovered in summer 2002.

Feuerborn, who has been a consultant to the district since retiring in 2005, and several former U46 administrators testified Tuesday about the circumstances around those boundary changes in the racial discrimination trial against the state’s second-largest school district.

Lawsuit’s claims

That lawsuit alleges U46 discriminated against black and Hispanic students in its 2004 school boundary plan by placing them in overcrowded schools. It also alleges the district did not offer students who were black and Hispanic access to its gifted and academy programs or appropriate help to English Language Learner (ELL) students.

The two-year boundary change process was “very public” and did not include discussions about segregation or isolating students, according to John Prince, former chief financial officer and chief operating officer of U46.

For the rest of the story, read U46 officials: No discussion about segregation in ’04 boundary changes (Sun-Times Media).