Denver public school officials are on a path to be the first school district in the country to hire teachers who were once undocumented and have not yet obtained U.S. citizenship.
The school system is working with the Teach for America program, which strives to bring “people of different backgrounds and experiences into the classroom to enhance learning,” according to the local NBC affiliate, 9NEWS Denver, which added:
“They are not licensed teachers but were issued an alternative license from the State of Colorado to teach. These teachers are currently enrolled in classes to attain their traditional teaching license after one year.”
The district plans to hire undocumented immigrants who have attained deferred-action status, allowed by an Obama executive order to those with no criminal record who were brought to America illegally by their parents.
Alejandro Fuentes Mena, who emigrated from Chile at age 4, now teaches fifth grade in the Denver school system as part of the district’s new immigrant hiring effort.
“These young men and women bring extraordinary talent to our classroom,” Denver schools Superintendent Tom Boasberg said. “We have many, many kids whose stories are like Alejandro’s.”
Not everyone is thrilled with the idea. The Colorado Alliance for Immigration Reform questioned reducing education and certification standards, saying it may do a disservice to students.
“It is unlikely that most of the illegal aliens with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status are trained, qualified, and certified as educators,” the group said in a statement. “Indeed, DACA status requires attainment of only a high school diploma or a GED certificate. Using unqualified individuals as ‘educators’ does a tremendous disservice not only to students of all races and nationalities, but to our entire educational system.”
The Denver school system may find out that, sometimes, being first isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be.
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