Approved by NCTE Members Voting at the Annual Business Meeting for the
Board of Directors and Other Members of the Council, November 2014
Ratified by a Vote of the NCTE Membership, February 2015
From 2013 to 2014, more than 66,000 children and adolescents, unaccompanied by their parents, made journeys from urban and rural areas of México and Central America and arrived in the United States in search of safety and educational opportunities (U.S. Customs and Border Protection, 2014). To date, various local, state, and federal agencies, as well as community and faith-based organizations, are collaborating on humanitarian efforts to ensure the safety, well-being, and education of young people who are newcomers to the U.S. After being incarcerated in temporary or permanent shelters in poor, overcrowded conditions or placed in correctional facilities, many of these children and adolescents are now living in communities of all sizes throughout the United States as they await court hearings and proceedings (Gordon, 2014; Hefling, 2014).
Following the recent surge in border crossings, some municipalities have begun government proceedings to unwelcome children and minors if they are labeled as immigrant, undocumented, and/or unaccompanied children. Acts of bias, indifference, and prejudice are barring them from equal access to public schooling, housing, and other public services.
In 1994, NCTE issued the Resolution on Proposition 187 in response to California’s Proposition 187, which denied educational and social services to undocumented immigrants, specifically those of Latino origin. It has been 20 years since NCTE passed a resolution on reaffirming the fundamental tenets of democracy that include access to public education and the learning of heritage and home languages. In the intervening years, resolutions have followed on The Student’s Right to Incorporate Heritage and Home Languages in Writing (2011), English-Only Instructional Practices (2008), El día de los niños/El día de los libros (2005), Resolution on Diversity (1999), and Developing and Maintaining Fluency in More than One Language (1997). As such, this proposed resolution builds on similar resolutions affirmed over the past two decades. Now is the time for NCTE to advocate for the dignities and rights of young people crossing the border, particularly those who cross alone. Be it therefore
Resolved, that the National Council of Teachers of English
- acknowledge that immigrant, undocumented, and unaccompanied children and youth, including those recently entering the United States, are historically a part of the diverse fabric of our student populations;
- respect the dignity of and advocate for the equitable schooling of undocumented youth, including those who cross borders alone and/or are unjustly apprehended and temporarily held; and
- support teachers, administrators, and local education agencies in the education of immigrant, undocumented, and unaccompanied youth.
This position statement may be printed, copied, and disseminated without permission from NCTE.