By P.J. WILLIAMS
with assistance from GIL HOFFMAN
Ten years from now, most of the current high school students will not be able to name most of the former U.S. presidents. But well into old age, area high school students will remember the civics lessons learned this week in the streets rather than the classroom.
Last week, hundreds of Houston teens went on strike to show their displeasure with the bills currently debated in Congress regarding how to deal with undocumented immigrants. Students from Aldine ISD and Sam Houston High were among the protestors.
About 220 students from Aldine ISD participated in the protests according to public information officer Mike Keeney. Six students left from Shotwell Middle; ten from Hoffman Middle. On Monday, 150 to 180 students total left from Eisenhower High and Ninth Grade Center, and on Tuesday, 80 to 100 students left. Area Supt. Margaruite Bynum said up to 100 students left from MacArthur High.
The majority of students who left school on Monday were back in school on Tuesday, said Keeney. The principals did a good job of corralling the kids and making sure they stayed on campus.
After the rally at city hall Tuesday, about 40 students got a ride home on Aldine school busses after the students called the district to request a ride.
According to Keeney, all the students received unexcused absences for the day which means that they cannot make up the work missed. Further punishment was dealt on an individual basis and ranged from a parent conference to one to two days in in-school suspension. Most of the students had to go to school Saturday from 8am to 1pm.
Keeney said Eisenhower principal Al Reynolds encouraged students to write their legislators and teachers helped students to clearly express their opinions. As of press time, Sheila Jackson Lee was scheduled to visit Eisenhower High on Monday, April 3 to speak to the students.
The Houston students walk out was part of protests around the country over bills currently debated in Congress to change the US policy toward undocumented immigrants.
In December, a bill passed in the House that would have made it a felony not only to be an undocumented immigrant, but also to aid one. This would have placed clergy, volunteers, and employees in non-profit aid agencies in a tough situation. On Monday, March 27, the Senate Judiciary Committee rejected that portion of the bill.
Now, the debate has moved into the senate where two bills are up for debate. One is the bill approved by the Judiciary Committee and based on plans by Senators John McCain R-Ariz. and Edward Kennedy D-Mass. It includes measures to allow the 12 million current undocumented immigrants in the US to work toward citizenship without having to return to their home countries. The path toward citizenship under this plan would take about six years. The bill would also create a temporary worker program.
The other bill, filed by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn. is aimed at restricting immigration. It does not contain a guest worker program but would increase border enforcement.