Brushing aside students

When a respected policymaker suggests that we should not put energy into students who âÄúfail to engage with their classes,âÄù as Clifford Adelman âÄî an educational policymaker who recently spoke to University students âÄî asserts, he asks us to not only abandon their education but also to ignore inequalities that start years before a student chooses to skip class. I volunteer with kindergarteners at Jefferson Community School and IâÄôve seen these 4- and 5-year-olds âÄúfail to engage.âÄù Some are just trying to learn English, and most seem more interested in starting wrestling matches than counting out buttons. Should we stop devoting resources to them? What about when they get older? In our society, getting a good job requires higher education, but for many immigrant students in the Twin Cities, that is next to impossible because of decisions made by their parents. An undocumented youth could attend the University, but only if they pay out-of-state tuition, even if theyâÄôve lived here for more than a decade. College and hope are simultaneously taken from them. It is not very shocking then when these students donâÄôt see the point of going to class. The answer to nonengagement isnâÄôt brushing them aside. That just maintains the status quo. A step that could provide hope for students is the Minnesota Dream Act. If passed, it would allow children of undocumented immigrants to pay in-state tuition if they’ve attended a Minnesota high school for three years, and graduated. Simply, it would give students reason to re-engage. When will we stop letting forgotten youth be defined by statistics of failure and give them a chance to define themselves? Kendra Allen University student