Tuesday, March 18, 2008

calexico schools

here is a link to a story i heard on the radio this morning (lovely leftist npr) about the efforts of the calexico school district to crack down on overcrowding by weeding out those who do not actually live in the district. for those who don’t know, calexico is a city in imperial county (east of san diego) right on the us-mexican border. it’s directly across the border from mexicali – the equivalent of el paso, texas, and ciudad juarez.

what exactly the problem is here i am not quite sure and the story did not make it abundantly clear either. (i was actually rather surprised by the story, as it seemed to be rather pro-american – a stance npr does not usually take, in my opinion.) it seems that a few years ago school enrollment in calexico exploded, and officials wondered why – and discovered that many of the students attending school in calexico actually lived in mexico and were crossing the border every morning to go to school. we’re not talking college students (theoretically independent adults, not necessarily subject to the dictates of their parents) here – we’re talking minors, high school students on down to kindergarteners. apparently every morning they get up, get ready for school, and stroll across the border with their notebooks and backpacks – and every afternoon they leave school and stroll back across the border to their homes in mexicali.

i was blown away but not surprised that this is happening. i mean, i know my tax dollars are paying to educate illegal children. what struck me was the openness of the immigrants who are cheating the system. i was also quite heartened by the school officials’ response: they now require parents to prove residency at least twice a year and randomly check up on addresses three to four times a year (like actually going to the provided address to make sure the student lives there). now they even have – get this – a guy (or maybe quite a few of them) who sits at the border every morning and takes pictures of the kids crossing into the us to go to school, and then they use that information as further proof to bar the children from american schools in calexico.

the immigrants’ response apparently is that they should be allowed to go to school in the us, because the schools in mexico are bad. their schools do not have nice desks, or books, or paper, or computers, or good fields for sports, and good teachers. maybe i am missing something here, but why is this my problem? and as a resident of california, why should my tax dollars go to educate these children whose parents cannot even bother to set up legal residency here and work and pay taxes just like me? don’t get me wrong, i have nothing against educating children, and i have nothing against people taking advantage of services they are legally entitled to. i was educated in the public school system in california (supported by my parents’ tax dollars) and i generally expect to educate my children there as well (but no guarantees). however, i do not see why my tax dollars need to subsidize the education of those who have no intention of living in and contributing to the us.

i think my favorite part of this is that the school district is being proactive about this problem, instead of just taking the extra federal money. schools get federal money based on enrollment numbers – that’s it. numbers go up, federal monies go up. numbers go down, federal monies go down. and yet the calexico school district is doing the proper thing.

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