Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Meeting Street School: Meeting the Challenge. Today's School Walkout, March 14, 2018.

Let's go back to the time when most of the world was still in disbelief that the then newly installed current president of the United States could start his term at the Oval Office by openly showing his hatred for immigrants and refugees, particularly if from certain countries where the predominant skin tone is not light white. Meeting Street found a way to simultaneously do charity and deliver a clear message. They started a teddy bear drive for children of refugee and immigrant families.  That's not politics. That's just helping those in need.
Then, directly from the White House, the attacks on D.A.C.A. recipients followed. Only those with very cold hearts, not to say heatless, can think that illegally crossing a border in order to flee persecution or escape extreme poverty is equivalent to commiting a crime. Many undocumented immigrants have only overstayed their allowed period to remain in the country.  Whether one case of the other, there is no crime. And when it comes to minors who were brought across the border by their  parents, even from a strictly legal standpoint it doesn't make sense to attempt to find any apparently valid ground to send them back. Their parents were not criminals but heroes, looking to give to their young what they didn't have when growing up. Some were trying to keep their children alive.  Although not formally legl, entering without inspection or overstaying was an act of courage and love.  Long ago, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said that "the so-called 'illegal' immigrants are not so out of their own volition but because the same society that uses their labor does not afford them a way to regularize their situation. They are not breaking the law: the law is breaking them."  And the kids they brought into the country did not even commit the allegedly 'illegal' act. Because they were minors at the time.
Meeting Street did not look the other way as cowards do.  Instead, they stepped in and offered assistance to parents who were D.A.C.A. recipients--parents who were Dreamers making their dreams a reality for their kids.  Particularly, those parents were in even more dire need of help. They had grown up in their new country and then had been blessed in a very special way--with a little one with special needs. In all likelihood, if forced to leave the U.S., their special sons or daughters might no longer have the level of medical attention, therapies, and equipment they need. Because the reality of the situation is that, if coming from a country of origin with comparable healthcare, they wouldn't be at risk of getting kicked out.
Even though I don't remember the exact title or the author, a book recommendation for the middle school students was about "unnatural disasters". I believe the book was entitled that way. That's a very appropriate kind of reading at a time when environmental protections are being removed and the whole U.S. had been pulled out of the Paris Agreement.
With respect to the primary topic of my post, namely the National School Walkout on today's date, March 14, 2018, I want to highlight the beauty, the courage, and the sensitivity of a very valid point that Meeting Street lists as one of their primary reasons to participate. They say that students of all abilities have the right to be protected and to have their voices heard.
Whereas many schools are literally doing what over two thousands years ago Pontius Pilate did and are washing their hands out of the issue, Meeting Street is there, organizing the event for its students.
The underlying situation should be looked at with a twofold focus. First of all, in general terms, no school should limit itself to leaving it up to its students. Safety is not a luxury. It's not a want but a need. It's not only a matter of letting the students demonstrate if they decide to do so. Students cannot be forced to participate--but if they do, their schools should not only let them do it but should support them instread--as Meeting Street does. It is the adults' job to find the best and safest way to make the event a peacefully successful one. It may sound like a word game but the goal is for the event to transpire uneventfully. For that, also typically developing students can certainly benefit from grown-up help.
Then, when it comes specifically to Meeting Street, they show their commitment to special education in a very eloquent, vibrant way where they say that all students should be heard--independently of level of ability. They are a voice for all the special needs kids who also want to to be and feel safe and yet may not be able to express themselves the same as their non-challenged peers can.

Affording them that chance is going beyond academics and even beyond extracurriculars. It's helping them keep alive. It's teacxhing them about life. It's making life more understandable and meanigful to them.

For all that, thank you, Margaret!

Lillian Godone-Maresca

Further to my post, which I wrote prior to the actual walkout, I'd like to add a few pics of the event, showing Philip, who is my youngest son, some other kids, and also me as I joined the protest along Eddy Street in Providence. I want to mention that most vehicles passing by honked at us in support.

Here are the pics.  Thank you.



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