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Letter: 'Worthington educators stand with all our students'

From the time they board the bus for school until the moment they get home, all of our students should feel welcome in school.

It’s unacceptable for anyone working with our children, regardless of immigration status or country of origin, to treat them any other way. That’s why Worthington educators found a Sept. 22 article in the Washington Post featuring a Worthington school bus driver so disturbing. His actions and sentiments do not reflect the welcoming community we live and work in.

Educators understand that our immigrant students’ success inside and outside the classroom is far too often at the mercy of our country’s broken immigration system and the fear mongering that goes along with it.

In Worthington, we’ve seen this all too much. The fear of federal agents tearing families apart alone is traumatizing for the children we nurture every day in our schools. Many of us still remember the shock and terror families experienced in 2006 when federal immigration officials raided the Swift pork processing plant. More than 200 workers were arrested. Children of immigrant families didn’t come to schools for days.

That fear, along with the perpetuation of false and damaging stereotypes of immigrants, have long lasting effects on our children. Now, they have someone transporting them to and from school who told a reporter he wishes Worthington would have another ICE raid because, “they need to get rid of the illegals.”

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We still have work to do in our community to become more inclusive. The oppression our students of color feel is real.

I know the desire is there. Worthington has a long history of welcoming immigrants who have come here for a better life. We also help people who live in other countries. This practice goes back to 1947 when people from Worthington sent shoes and clothing to the war-torn southern German city of Crailsheim, which since has become Worthington's sister city.

I grew up in Worthington, and I have seen our community change. I went to college in the Twin Cities but returned because I wanted to give back to my community. And I am so glad I did. My children have benefited so much by being raised in such a wonderfully diverse community.

Immigrants are a big part of what makes Worthington great. Some of our children crossed the United States-Mexico border alone, experiencing trauma none of us can even imagine. But they come to school every day, eager to learn. And they need adults who care about them.

Worthington educators stand with all our students. We ultimately do everything we do as educators because we believe it will give each student a better future. Anyone who doesn’t value all of our children in Worthington, or is not willing to help build them up to be strong members of our community and society, has no business working with our students.

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