Unit 5 Teachers Call For Welcoming Environment For Immigrant Families | WGLT

Unit 5 Teachers Call For Welcoming Environment For Immigrant Families

Oct 26, 2017

Teachers from Unit 5’s high schools are asking the school board to declare the district a welcoming environment for immigrant students and teachers.

Normal West teacher John Bierbaum, Normal Community teacher Patrick Lawler and NCHS freshman Aditi Sharma spoke to the school board Wednesday evening about passing a measure to declare Unit 5 schools safe learning environments for students regardless of their immigration status.

Bierbaum said feelings of safety are taken for granted by students who aren't immigrants or have immigrant parents.

"I assure you my conversations with faculty members, different colleagues and students ... they don't take it for granted," said Bierbaum. "It impacts them every single day, and they know where to go to for safety and they are measuring that every single day of their life."

Each Unit 5 school board member has this quote on the back on their nameplate during board meetings, so it is facing them when discussing and passing rules and actions.
Credit Baylee Steelman / WGLT

Bierbaum said teachers in the district are here to educate students no matter who they are or where they come from. Sharma told the school board that students have diverse religions and ethnicities. She said no one should feel unsafe going to school.

"I'm an immigrant myself, and I came here from India," said Sharma. "I look forward to school because it's a place where I can learn and also have fun with my friends. I want everyone to (like) school like I do and not be scared because of their immigration status."

Board member David Fortner prepared a speech for the meeting. He said educators have a duty to bring wisdom to their communities.

"Let's love these children regardless of who they are, where they're from, or any perceived wrongs or mistakes their parents might have made. Let's love these children,” he said.

Board member Meta Mickens-Baker praised the resolution. She said students and faculty are working to build a culture of inclusion.

The effort to emphasize the district as a safe welcoming learning space for immigrants comes amid national controversy over immigration policy. District 87 schools implemented a similar measure a month ago.

The Unit 5 school board reviewed a draft version of the resolution Wednesday. It will return to the board for formal action next month.

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