Skip to content

Immigrant children need our expertise, compassion

2014 July 9
by HISD Communications

The sudden influx of Central American children into the U.S. has sparked a national debate, a lot of political rhetoric, accusations, and alarm. As public educators in a city which will likely accept many of these youngsters, we must rise above the furor to remember this is a humanitarian issue involving children. And HISD stands ready to help.

We have deep experience dealing with children who have been suddenly relocated under traumatic circumstances. At the beginning of the 2005 school year, in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, we registered more than 11,000 displaced youngsters. And with more than 900 students from Central American countries enrolled last school year, we’re knowledgeable about the educational and cultural issues involved in helping them integrate successfully.

That’s why we’ve been contacted by federal officials and are working with them, state agencies, and local officials and community organizations to respond to this unfolding situation.

As I write this, we’re awaiting word on whether the long-shuttered Terrell Middle School will be selected as temporary housing for these youngsters, and we’re preparing to educate any of these children who are living within HISD boundaries at the start of school in August. We’ve assembled a team of HISD facilities, human resources, multilingual services, family and community engagement, and academic professionals to anticipate and provide support, and we’re prepared to expand existing programs, such as our Las Americas Newcomers Center and Liberty High School, and to offer new programs, as necessary. Offers of help are already starting to come in, both from concerned HISD employees and community members who want to make sure we do right by these kids.

Our task right now is not to make social or political judgments about this situation. It is to make sure that all children within our district are guaranteed a safe, secure environment, access to a quality education, and our much-needed compassion. Whether born and raised in Houston or brought here by immigration, natural disasters, social and political turmoil or persecution, our students find that comfort within HISD every day. And so will these children.

Comments are closed.