Limiting Our Nation’s Dream (by Guest Student Blogger Kaitlyn Smeback)

Note: We’re starting Week 2 of Portland State University’s Enhancing Youth Literacy and Summer Youth Enrichment Capstones in public discussion at PDX Education Action Network.  Last week’s student bloggers inspired incredibly rich conversations about the state of education, and this week, we’ll continue to dive into many perspectives on topics such as the DREAM Act, immigration and education, and other current events.  Here is our first Guest Student Blogger, Kaitlyn Smeback, and some provocative questions about the DREAM Act.

After watching “Teen DREAM Act Documentary,” I find myself again disappointed by my own ignorance of the contemporary issues and by the inherent injustice in our educational system.

I read many articles, as well as some blatantly hateful responses to the articles, in an attempt to see the side of the opposition. While I do feel the opponents have a few valid points, I think that positives of the DREAM Act massively outweigh them.

How terrible to tell a whole generation that no matter how hard they work, or study, that they will never be allotted the opportunity to reach even partial potential. That even if they get into college, and find a way to pay huge tuition bills out of pocket they risk deportation at any moment and not even being able to get a good job once they graduate.

The whole time I read and watched, I was reminded of the Kozol article we read a few weeks ago, when Kozol discusses the way we keep certain minorities at a low level of education, that way we will have a low-wage workforce, and the culture of power won’t have to compete for the top paying jobs. WHY AS A COUNTRY STRUGGLING FINANCIALLY—OUR JOB MARKET AND NATIONAL DEBT–WOULD WE WANT TO TURN AWAY HIGH PERFORMING, HARD WORKING STUDENTS? Students who could give our country a competitive edge, and another cultural perspective–which becomes ever more important as the legal Hispanic population is grows.


10 thoughts on “Limiting Our Nation’s Dream (by Guest Student Blogger Kaitlyn Smeback)

  1. Nice post. I agree. It seems shortsighted at best to exclude talented hard-working young people. I think there is a myth that these folks are a drain, when in fact they contribute so much labor and taxes to our economy.

  2. Your connection to Kozol is right on! It really doesn’t make any sense why a whole generation of children, and our country’s future, is not being given the opportunities it deserves. This all definitely seems like the culture of power keeping minorities “in their place” so to speak. I can’t help but wonder about the future. What kind of ramifications can we expect to see from this blatant negligence of such a talented and promising group of kids?

    • Emily,
      I think that is a great question. Our negligence leads to more ignorance. People that are unable to see these talented individuals as assets instead see them as illegal aliens. They assume that they contribute nothing to society and feed off of our rightful resources.The Teen DREAM documentary notes that yes, when these kids are denied opportunities they could resort to drugs and criminal activity. But, these students want to be legal and they want to be great citizens of America. If we allow them these opportunities, they will pave a path to a bright and positive future. If we don’t, we leave to to resort to our ignorant expectations.

      Various changes to the bill show the unwillingness the legislature has to give these students a chance. They propose that if these students want to attend college they must pay out-of-state tuition and receive no financial aid. These restrictions occur time and time again in racial politics. Politicians propose restrictions that are simply loopholes and fine print that allow someone of a different race to do the same things as white american citizens but put barrier after barrier in their way. We need to break these barriers, create equality and let these individuals show the people of this nation that they are invaluable.

      • I agree with Anne’s comment. These students are virtually unable to attend college without the Dream Act. We are missing what they could contribute to society, not to mention the cultural enrichment they could teach their peers in higher learning. Even with the Dream Act, if it doesn’t include financial aid or scholarships, the education may still be impossible for most students. We forget the struggles that these kids face just to finish public education. Often times living through poverty, or unstable incomes because of their parents being undocumented. This, in turn makes them extra exceptional. Living in between their traditional culture, while identifying with the American culture leaves a missing “in-between” to fit their circumstance.

      • As a friend of several Latino students who wish they could go to school; they are mostly worried about just having the opportunity to go to school.
        Everyone who comes from outside of the country knows that there will be cost to things. Education is one of them. I do agree that it is unfair to charge students an outside state tuition when they live instate.
        My mom would say “Its enough our children are down, lets not kick them down into the ground.”

    • I foresee the future turning away good brilliant students capable of changing this nation and students going to a different nation where they can be accepted.

      Its a shame. I have friends who really wish they could go to school and are stuck waiting for something to happen.
      There are also students who live everyday worrying what to do next or to just give up.

  3. I agree Olivia, I’ve often thought that the people that do come to America from abroad have to be the smartest, most resourceful and determined people in their home countries in order to even make it here. Many of them instill the idea in their kids that they have to be better than everyone else to get the same opportunities. Growing up in that kind of environment, the children do work hard, earn good grades, and are terrified of breaking the law, more so than I am as an American because they don’t take the fact that they are here for granted. It’s a shame that we punish these kinds of kids.

    • Elizabeth: I agree with you on “people that do come to America from abroad have to the smartest, most resourceful and determined people”. I have learned from a very wise woman who is not from this United States, my mother, that when you arrive here, you arrive with nothing. You learn to value what you have, you work harder to do things right, and you dream bigger. With all these; my mother became a legal permanent resident…I am very proud of her.

  4. This is a common theme that seems to be happening within this country of ours. I just can’t but think how selfish we are as a whole and how we are so ignorant to people outside of the country that come here and “take our jobs.” The things is, those immigrants that help out our country are putting forth a tremendously amount of effort and benefit us quite a bit. But we have this idea that keeps lingering on about how illegal immigrants are ruining this country of ours. I don’t want to sound selfish, but I was part of this faction of hateful people, only because I didn’t know any better. After seeing the other side of the coin, I was able to see how great the DREAM Act is. Not only it this great to the individuals that were illegally imported into this country (unwillingly), but the students that come in can have a chance to improve our economy and work here as American citizens and living the “dream” that they once had.

    They called this the land of the free? Far from it. We live in a country of how we can raise expectations for immigrants, then shatter it.

  5. You might be interested in reading Paulo Freire’s, Pedagogy of the Oppressed. It speaks to the role of education in improving the lives of illiterate and impoverished people and the fear it engenders in the dominant culture.

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