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Immigration for Third Graders

Thursday, 26 May 2011 06:55 By Amy McMullen, Truthout | News Analysis

I recently came across an article that brought attention to a particularly troublesome bit of curriculum being employed by an elementary school in Duluth, Georgia.

When third-grade students brought home an assignment that dealt explicitly with the subject of immigration in this country, not surprisingly some parents were both alarmed and offended by the content.

The students were asked to read a story called "What is an Illegal Alien?" and then answer questions at the end. The story was both an overly simplistic and one-sided view of the complex subject of undocumented immigration in this country.

But the quiz following was even more disturbing. Among the possible answers to the multiple-choice question "What does the US do with illegal aliens?" the choices included "The US shoots them into outer space" and "The US puts them to death."

Here is the lesson with some of the multiple-choice questions:

What is an Illegal Alien?
By Brenda B. Covert

Sam was playing with Buster, his pet terrier, in the backyard. Taylor called and asked if he could come over.

"Sure!" Sam told his friend. "I'll be in the backyard. Just come through the side gate."

Sam heard Taylor coming down the walkway. Taylor hurried up to the gate, swung it open, and entered the backyard. He closed the gate behind him. The two friends greeted each other. Then they began to play with Buster. What a shock they had when a third boy jumped the fence into Sam's backyard!

Buster barked. Taylor looked at Sam. Sam put his fists on his hips and said, "Hey! What are you doing?"

The third boy shrugged. "I heard you guys having fun, and I decided to come over and play."

"You can't just come into a person's backyard!" Sam declared.

"Says who?" the boy asked with a smirk. He strolled over to the swing set.

The back door opened, and Sam's mother stepped outside. "Sam, what's going on out here? Who's your friend? I thought Taylor was the only one coming over."

"I don't know this guy," Sam said. "He just came over the fence!"

Sam's mother firmly told the boy to go home. She sent him through the gate rather than let him scramble back over the fence.

"The nerve of some kids," Sam heard his mother mutter as she went back inside.

What is an illegal alien? An alien is a person from another country. An illegal alien is a person who comes to another country without permission. It is also a person who was allowed to be in the country for a while but who didn't leave once time was up.

In the above story, imagine that Sam's backyard is a country. Sam is a citizen of the country. It is his home. The boy who asked if he could come over is a legal alien. He followed the rules for going into a place where he didn't live. The boy who jumped the fence and surprised Sam and Taylor is like an illegal alien. He did not get permission. He didn't come into the land by the usual way.

Countries like to keep track of the people who belong there. They also like to keep track of visitors. They do not like people to sneak in uninvited. It is illegal (against the law) to go into another country without its approval. A person who breaks the law by sneaking in may also break other laws. Illegal aliens in the US get sent home when they are caught. Countries don't want to hear excuses. They just want people to ask first!

Questions

1. In this lesson, an alien is a ______.

a. guest from another country
b. a citizen
c. an uninvited guest
d. being from another planet

2. What have illegal aliens done?

a. lost their money
b. entered a country without permission
c. gotten sick and looked for doctors
d. flown spaceships

3. What does the US do with illegal aliens?

a. The US sends them back where they came from
b. The US puts them to work in the army.
c. The US puts them to death
d. The US shoots them into outer space

Once my initial shock and horror wore off after reading this, I decided that it obviously needed improvement. So, I wrote my own version of the story of Sam, Taylor, the "boy" and their intrepid dog Buster:

What is an Unworkable Immigration Policy?
By Amy McMullen (with a little help from her friend, Plagiar Ism)

Sam was playing with Buster, his pet terrier, in the backyard. Sam had a really nice backyard with toys, swing sets, Atari Play Stations and lots of yummy snacks. There was always something to do and his parents gave him a really big allowance, too. One day, Taylor called and asked if he could come over; I mean, who wouldn't want to come over to play in such an awesome yard?

"Sure!" Sam told his friend. "I'll be in the backyard, just come through the side gate. But since we have rules about who can come into my yard, make sure you fill out all the necessary paperwork first and pay the thousands of dollars in fees. Oh and you DO have a close relative or are married to someone who lives in my home, right? Another option is you can find a company who is willing to shell out about ten grand to sponsor you. Failing that, you can give me a million bucks or you can be accepted into a university and pay full tuition. Otherwise you can't come; after all, the law is the law."

"No problem," said Taylor, "I'm only coming from Canada Lane so this should be easy."

Sam heard Taylor coming down the walkway. Taylor hurried up to the gate, swung it open and, after showing the armed guards several forms of ID and his college visa that he had waited months to get, he entered the backyard. He closed the gate behind him. The two friends greeted each other. Then they began to play with Buster. Unfortunately, Buster had pooped all over the yard, so playing wasn't all that much fun because they kept stepping in doggy do-do.

What a shock they had when a third boy jumped the fence into Sam's backyard!

Buster barked. Taylor looked at Sam. Sam put his fists on his hips and said, "Hey! What are you doing?"

The third boy smiled in a friendly way. "I heard you guys having fun and I decided to come over and play."

"You can't just come into a person's backyard!" Sam declared. "Where is your passport? Where's your visa?"

"I couldn't get one," the boy said sadly, "I tried but since I'm poor I couldn't pay the thousands of dollars in fees or wait the years it takes to come here, despite the fact that my people have migrated across this yard for millennia. Since my family was starving, I was hoping you might welcome me. I can work hard. Watch!"

And with those words, the boy started cleaning up Buster's poop. Soon, the yard was nice and clean and the boys could play without fear of getting dog crap on their shoes.

"Well, OK," said Sam grudgingly, "since you've cleaned up my yard, I'll just pretend you didn't come here without permission. Here's a couple of pennies from my $20 allowance, but don't go asking for any more or I'll throw your ass out of here."

"Muchas gracias!" said the boy, "and my name is Pedro, by the way."

"Speak English!" admonished Sam.

The back door opened, and Sam's mother stepped outside. "Sam, what's going on out here? Who's your friend? I thought Taylor was the only one coming over."

Sam knew he was in trouble so he cried, "I don't know this guy! He just came over the fence!"

Sam's mother firmly told Pedro to go home. By "firmly" we mean she called the immigration agents, so he was handcuffed and led away in chains to a detention center where he spent a long time before being shipped off to Mexico and dumped on the other side of the border. He was separated from his family and doesn't know if he'll ever see them again. He was also told that he must wait ten years before ever even thinking about trying to come back into Sam's yard.

"The nerve of some kids," Sam heard his mother mutter as she went back inside.

Questions

1. Sam lets the boy Taylor in his yard because

a. Taylor is white
b. Taylor has paid lots of money
c. Taylor is privileged
d. Pick any of the above

2. The boy Pedro cannot come into Sam's yard because

a. He is poor
b. He is not highly skilled
c. He is brown
d. Pick any of the above

3. Sam allows Pedro to stay because

a. He knows his parent's drug habit and their gunrunning business have promulgated a deadly war in Pedro's home and Pedro must flee to Sam's yard to be safe.
b. He realizes that the rules in place for coming to his yard are unfair and discriminatory and need to be reformed.
c. He understands that his parent's foreign policies in Pedro's country have forced Pedro's family off their land and this is a chance for Pedro to make a better life for himself and provide valuable labor.
d. He doesn't want to pick up dog crap and he realizes Pedro will do it cheaply and can always be thrown out whenever he isn't wanted anymore.

4. The real jerk in this story is

a. Sam
b. Sam's mother
c. The outdated and unworkable rules that won't allow people into Sam's yard
d. All of the above

Amy McMullen

Amy McMullen is an Arizona resident whose passion about human rights has evolved into activism since the passage of SB 1070. She's originally from Maine, where she was part of the tourism industry. She now restores homes in southern Arizona and she and her husband are living in her latest project in the foothills of the Superstition Mountains. She is working on a memoir of her early life on an isolated Maine island.


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Immigration for Third Graders

Thursday, 26 May 2011 06:55 By Amy McMullen, Truthout | News Analysis

I recently came across an article that brought attention to a particularly troublesome bit of curriculum being employed by an elementary school in Duluth, Georgia.

When third-grade students brought home an assignment that dealt explicitly with the subject of immigration in this country, not surprisingly some parents were both alarmed and offended by the content.

The students were asked to read a story called "What is an Illegal Alien?" and then answer questions at the end. The story was both an overly simplistic and one-sided view of the complex subject of undocumented immigration in this country.

But the quiz following was even more disturbing. Among the possible answers to the multiple-choice question "What does the US do with illegal aliens?" the choices included "The US shoots them into outer space" and "The US puts them to death."

Here is the lesson with some of the multiple-choice questions:

What is an Illegal Alien?
By Brenda B. Covert

Sam was playing with Buster, his pet terrier, in the backyard. Taylor called and asked if he could come over.

"Sure!" Sam told his friend. "I'll be in the backyard. Just come through the side gate."

Sam heard Taylor coming down the walkway. Taylor hurried up to the gate, swung it open, and entered the backyard. He closed the gate behind him. The two friends greeted each other. Then they began to play with Buster. What a shock they had when a third boy jumped the fence into Sam's backyard!

Buster barked. Taylor looked at Sam. Sam put his fists on his hips and said, "Hey! What are you doing?"

The third boy shrugged. "I heard you guys having fun, and I decided to come over and play."

"You can't just come into a person's backyard!" Sam declared.

"Says who?" the boy asked with a smirk. He strolled over to the swing set.

The back door opened, and Sam's mother stepped outside. "Sam, what's going on out here? Who's your friend? I thought Taylor was the only one coming over."

"I don't know this guy," Sam said. "He just came over the fence!"

Sam's mother firmly told the boy to go home. She sent him through the gate rather than let him scramble back over the fence.

"The nerve of some kids," Sam heard his mother mutter as she went back inside.

What is an illegal alien? An alien is a person from another country. An illegal alien is a person who comes to another country without permission. It is also a person who was allowed to be in the country for a while but who didn't leave once time was up.

In the above story, imagine that Sam's backyard is a country. Sam is a citizen of the country. It is his home. The boy who asked if he could come over is a legal alien. He followed the rules for going into a place where he didn't live. The boy who jumped the fence and surprised Sam and Taylor is like an illegal alien. He did not get permission. He didn't come into the land by the usual way.

Countries like to keep track of the people who belong there. They also like to keep track of visitors. They do not like people to sneak in uninvited. It is illegal (against the law) to go into another country without its approval. A person who breaks the law by sneaking in may also break other laws. Illegal aliens in the US get sent home when they are caught. Countries don't want to hear excuses. They just want people to ask first!

Questions

1. In this lesson, an alien is a ______.

a. guest from another country
b. a citizen
c. an uninvited guest
d. being from another planet

2. What have illegal aliens done?

a. lost their money
b. entered a country without permission
c. gotten sick and looked for doctors
d. flown spaceships

3. What does the US do with illegal aliens?

a. The US sends them back where they came from
b. The US puts them to work in the army.
c. The US puts them to death
d. The US shoots them into outer space

Once my initial shock and horror wore off after reading this, I decided that it obviously needed improvement. So, I wrote my own version of the story of Sam, Taylor, the "boy" and their intrepid dog Buster:

What is an Unworkable Immigration Policy?
By Amy McMullen (with a little help from her friend, Plagiar Ism)

Sam was playing with Buster, his pet terrier, in the backyard. Sam had a really nice backyard with toys, swing sets, Atari Play Stations and lots of yummy snacks. There was always something to do and his parents gave him a really big allowance, too. One day, Taylor called and asked if he could come over; I mean, who wouldn't want to come over to play in such an awesome yard?

"Sure!" Sam told his friend. "I'll be in the backyard, just come through the side gate. But since we have rules about who can come into my yard, make sure you fill out all the necessary paperwork first and pay the thousands of dollars in fees. Oh and you DO have a close relative or are married to someone who lives in my home, right? Another option is you can find a company who is willing to shell out about ten grand to sponsor you. Failing that, you can give me a million bucks or you can be accepted into a university and pay full tuition. Otherwise you can't come; after all, the law is the law."

"No problem," said Taylor, "I'm only coming from Canada Lane so this should be easy."

Sam heard Taylor coming down the walkway. Taylor hurried up to the gate, swung it open and, after showing the armed guards several forms of ID and his college visa that he had waited months to get, he entered the backyard. He closed the gate behind him. The two friends greeted each other. Then they began to play with Buster. Unfortunately, Buster had pooped all over the yard, so playing wasn't all that much fun because they kept stepping in doggy do-do.

What a shock they had when a third boy jumped the fence into Sam's backyard!

Buster barked. Taylor looked at Sam. Sam put his fists on his hips and said, "Hey! What are you doing?"

The third boy smiled in a friendly way. "I heard you guys having fun and I decided to come over and play."

"You can't just come into a person's backyard!" Sam declared. "Where is your passport? Where's your visa?"

"I couldn't get one," the boy said sadly, "I tried but since I'm poor I couldn't pay the thousands of dollars in fees or wait the years it takes to come here, despite the fact that my people have migrated across this yard for millennia. Since my family was starving, I was hoping you might welcome me. I can work hard. Watch!"

And with those words, the boy started cleaning up Buster's poop. Soon, the yard was nice and clean and the boys could play without fear of getting dog crap on their shoes.

"Well, OK," said Sam grudgingly, "since you've cleaned up my yard, I'll just pretend you didn't come here without permission. Here's a couple of pennies from my $20 allowance, but don't go asking for any more or I'll throw your ass out of here."

"Muchas gracias!" said the boy, "and my name is Pedro, by the way."

"Speak English!" admonished Sam.

The back door opened, and Sam's mother stepped outside. "Sam, what's going on out here? Who's your friend? I thought Taylor was the only one coming over."

Sam knew he was in trouble so he cried, "I don't know this guy! He just came over the fence!"

Sam's mother firmly told Pedro to go home. By "firmly" we mean she called the immigration agents, so he was handcuffed and led away in chains to a detention center where he spent a long time before being shipped off to Mexico and dumped on the other side of the border. He was separated from his family and doesn't know if he'll ever see them again. He was also told that he must wait ten years before ever even thinking about trying to come back into Sam's yard.

"The nerve of some kids," Sam heard his mother mutter as she went back inside.

Questions

1. Sam lets the boy Taylor in his yard because

a. Taylor is white
b. Taylor has paid lots of money
c. Taylor is privileged
d. Pick any of the above

2. The boy Pedro cannot come into Sam's yard because

a. He is poor
b. He is not highly skilled
c. He is brown
d. Pick any of the above

3. Sam allows Pedro to stay because

a. He knows his parent's drug habit and their gunrunning business have promulgated a deadly war in Pedro's home and Pedro must flee to Sam's yard to be safe.
b. He realizes that the rules in place for coming to his yard are unfair and discriminatory and need to be reformed.
c. He understands that his parent's foreign policies in Pedro's country have forced Pedro's family off their land and this is a chance for Pedro to make a better life for himself and provide valuable labor.
d. He doesn't want to pick up dog crap and he realizes Pedro will do it cheaply and can always be thrown out whenever he isn't wanted anymore.

4. The real jerk in this story is

a. Sam
b. Sam's mother
c. The outdated and unworkable rules that won't allow people into Sam's yard
d. All of the above

Amy McMullen

Amy McMullen is an Arizona resident whose passion about human rights has evolved into activism since the passage of SB 1070. She's originally from Maine, where she was part of the tourism industry. She now restores homes in southern Arizona and she and her husband are living in her latest project in the foothills of the Superstition Mountains. She is working on a memoir of her early life on an isolated Maine island.


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