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 A Home on the Field 
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Hi Folks,

I don't expect anyone to have much time today to post here, but realized we didn't have a thread devoted to this book yet - and it's a book that is close to home, literally. (As opposed to outer space, talking guerillas, and so on. :shock: )

This is obviously a really rich text for us as people involved with schools, but I was wondering if anyone might have time to share some of their initial responses, some of which I eavesdropped on - a little - as you all were leaving last week.

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Gayle Turner


Wed Mar 23, 2011 11:52 am
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This story is one that has stuck with me. I agree with what Lora said in class. We, as educators, create an atmosphere of "you can do it" when so many cannot, by law, really ever achieve at the level they may be academically able to achieve.
I hate to be the devil's advocate but here goes....
How much funding is used for special classes or ESL services in our NC public schools? I mean ESL classes, resources, staff, translators, etc... I have been fortunate enough, as an 8th grade teacher, to typically have students who are fairly well versed in English by the time they get to me but I wondered if anyone at the elementary level sees a large pot of money being "poured" into programs to help those students who struggle with english and in core classes. In this tight financial time, can we afford to continue this practice if it is an issue? Today I went with some of my fellow classmates to interview our financial officer and I understand that we have several "pots" of money, federal, state, local.... but are we using money that could be used to "push" struggling students? Just wondering! Again, by the time we get them they are almost all exited from the ESL program for the most part so I don't see a large portion of money, faculty or other resources going into our ESL programs.


Thu Mar 24, 2011 11:24 pm
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This book is probably my favorite so far. This book really hit close to home for me because my school is 48% Hispanic and I couldn't help but think about all my Hispanic students as I read this book. I'm not sure if any of them had to encounter the difficulties Fish did or the criticism from the town but I do know that I want them to feel like they belong when they come into my classroom/school. I felt so motivated and empowered after reading how Paul changed the morale and lives of these students. I want to be that motivator. I want my students to know that they can do anything and for them not to let anyone tell them otherwise.

I kinda felt bitter to the town at the beginning of the story. The town didn't want the Hispanics there at first but of course after the town is getting recognition for their soccer team, all of a sudden they want to be associated. But then again, I love how they came together and formed a united group and this was inspiring to the players and made them feel as if they finally had a "home" where they belonged.

I also gained a better understanding of the lives of my Hispanic students when they are not at school. I now understand why some do not complete their homework. Because they are cooking supper for their family or helping their dad on the job. I loved how Paul never gave up. I know some days as educators are hard and we feel like we are not making a difference in anyone's life but we have to perservere and know that we are making an impact. So to my fellow classmates, Dr. Turner, and myself, here is a verse that comes to mind when I think about educators, students, and "A Home on the Field"...
"I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith" 2 Tim. 4:7.

We must keep the faith and know that we are helping others!

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(Ariana) Nicole Benton Hazelwood


Sat Mar 26, 2011 3:42 pm
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Nicole,

I really like what you said regarding your changed feelings about Hispanic students being absent. I'm in the same boat with some of my students, and I have found myself pausing before asking...

Here's the situation and my thoughts: There is a girl in my 6th grade math class and homeroom who has the potential to succeed at a high level, but she is missing an excessive number of days. Each time I try to talk with her about why, she mumbles about being sick. Now, obviously she could be sick, and I don't want to ignore that; however, she has never seemed sick before or after these absences... In the book Cuadros talks about how often Hispanic students must care for siblings or deal with family issues, and part of me thinks this could be the case. Unfortunately because I'm a guy and she's a quiet 6th grade girl, I'm not going to be prying into what is going on with her, because she does not seem interested in sharing.

There's another side to this though. While I know that treating students fairly and appropriately does not mean they are necessarily treated the same, looking at absent Hispanic students as having ulterior reasons when I don't do that with White or Black kids seems wrong (seems like profiling?) While we need to give them the opportunity to succeed... as an administrator what would you promote among your faculty with regards to situations like this? "Know your kids" seems appropriate, but sometimes so difficult...

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Daniel Bryant
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Sat Mar 26, 2011 4:42 pm
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I struggle with so many of the issues you've all already expressed.

I know many of our Hispanic/Latino students well. It troubles me when I actually witness the discrimination they face and I always try to make sure they know that someone is one their side and sees them as individuals. They are judged so harshly by black and white students who make many assumptions about who they are and where they come from. Unfortunately, they also get this from adults (even in our school). I like to think I get to know them (as Daniel eluded to - as best I can with what they're willing to share) and I try to encourage them to succeed when I'm with them, but as I said in class Wednesday, I feel like I'm part of some cruel joke, where everyone knows the deck is stacked against them - but them. I feel like we lead them to believe they have all the opportunities other students have, but they don't always. It's the same as those who come from poverty that we've spoken about throughout the class meetings - but worse. I just feel like it doesn't benefit our country to refuse higher education to people who WILL continue to live here and be part of our society whether some people like it or not. It just seems like we're shooting ourselves in the foot. Now, don't get me wrong, I have a daughter who is a junior in high school. I don't feel her opportunities should lessen because we are offering them to illegal residents, but it presents a difficult dilemma. There is no simple solution...at least in my mind.

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Lora T. Tiano


Sun Mar 27, 2011 3:22 pm
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Lora, you hit the nail on the head when you mentioned that we need to offer continuing educational opportunities for undocumented students. The fact is they are going to remain a part of our community and as such, will continue to contribute to the society. Like we were discussing in Mudiwa's class, we need to invest in our human capital since it is an investment in the future and in our society.

On another note, one idea in the book that also ties in with recent conversations about socioeconomic status in the US was Cuadros' statement that "I realized that the idea that some of these kids could break out of their socioeconomic status might be a pipe dream." He stated how Mexican families often viewed ambition as selfish and self-absorbed. How can we provide the necessary support for students seeking a higher ground? Cuadros also said, "People can support you - parents, teachers, coaches, and friends. But ultimately you have to run down the field in order to try to fulfill your goals." How can students reach their goals without opportunities through education, and how can they advance without risk of losing their families? Maybe Ishmael would tell us that there is a Law in place - we just have to discover it.

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Lisa Pendry


Wed Mar 30, 2011 5:26 pm
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OK, so I'm going to somewhat play Devil's Advocate, and somewhat type to try and figure out my voice... because I feel like a rubberband pulled between two realities of this situation.

1) If we indicate to foreign individuals that the US is going to begin freely allowing entrance into the US, public schooling, and college entrance (and therefore most likely financial aid) to non-citizens, where does that money come from? This is the land of opportunity, but with numbers increasing at such a rapid rate, I don't know how many more kids I can handle in my classes! Just about everyone's family was once an immigrant family...

2) Kids generally don't have any say in where they are or what situations they're put into. I love the Hispanic kids in my classes, because generally they are unassuming, hard working, and come from grateful families. So how could you not educate these kids? The benefit of educating them and helping them become positive contributers to our society would be tremendous.

As always it seems to comes down to money.
-(remember, devil's advocate...kinda) according to FAIR which is the Federation for American Immigration Reform in North Carolina an "estimated 120,000 children of illegal aliens in public schools cost taxpayers more than $1 billion annually."(it was the only place I could find actual numbers of students and cost... Gayle, please supply more appropriate numbers if you have them, b/c this site obviously has a bigtime slant)

-That's a lot of money and kids

***While the students will eventually grow into adults who will pay taxes (if documented) and educating them can be looked at as investing in the future, what about now? Where is the money going to come from, because we can't just keep adding students to classrooms and expecting teaching not to suffer. $1 billion? I already feel overtaxed!!!

I hope I have overlooked some glaring facts, because I don't like the direction my comments have gone. Kids deserve teachers. Teachers deserve to be paid legitimate salaries. Classes should be kept smaller than they currently are. I understand the frustration of people who believe their hard-earned money is solely benefitting someone else. Politics is so frustrating because there's generally validity in each side's argument, but in the classroom I want to educate anyone who comes through my door.

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Daniel Bryant
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Thu Mar 31, 2011 10:16 am
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Today I had one of my most wonderful young hispanic ladies to tell me that she is leaving for Mexico and will be gone for about a month. She will be back in time to take the EOG though. Fair to her? Fair to our test scores? No and no but this is expected of her in the eyes of her family. There is a family thing that she has to be there for. I asked if someone was sick but she said it wasn't like that. She said the family just needed them to come home for a while to help out. Do you think that typically means financially? Work? What? She doesn't seemed thrilled about going but I think she knows what is expected of her family and herself so she will go without complaint. Wouldn't it be nice if our families were as devoted to family? We'll bust our tails to get her ready when she gets back. She's very bright so she will most likely do okay. What about the kids who do not? Where does the "blame" for their failure land? Just wanted your thoughts.


Thu Mar 31, 2011 6:12 pm
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I found a 2006 article that was peer reviewed, in fact published in the Harvard Latino Law Review, so a really high tier journal. I have the whole article, if anyone wants to read the entire footnoted argument she makes.

The person who wrote it is Francine J. Lipman, Professor of Law at Chapman University School of Law. It appeared in the Spring 2006 Harvard Latino Law Review. The title: "Taxing Undocumented Immigrants: Separate, Unequal and Without Representation." Part of her argument:

Quote:
[U]ndocumenteds actually contribute more to public coffers in taxes than they cost in social services...

[E]ach year undocumented immigrants add billions of dollars in sales, excise, property, income and payroll taxes, including Social Security, Medicare and unemployment taxes, to federal, state and local coffers. Hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants go out of their way to file annual federal and state income tax returns.

Yet undocumented immigrants are barred from almost all government benefits...Generally, the only benefits federally required for undocumented immigrants are emergency medical care, subject to financial and category eligibility, and elementary and secondary public education. Many undocumented immigrants will not even access these few critical government services because of their ever-present fear of government officials and deportation.

Undocumented immigrants living in the United States are subject to the same income tax laws as documented immigrants and U.S. citizens. However, because of their status most unauthorized workers pay a higher effective tax rate than similarly situated documented or U.S. citizens. Yet, these workers and their families use fewer government services than similarly situated documented immigrants or U.S. citizens...As a result, undocumented immigrants provide a fiscal windfall and may be the most fiscally beneficial of all immigrants."

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Gayle Turner


Wed Apr 06, 2011 10:38 am
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I appreciate all of the thoughtful comments here. Not sure about the portion of the article from Harvard since it is mostly opinion without any documentation--although I realize this is just a portion of the text.

I have four Hispanic/Latino students this semester. One student is the baby of 9! All of his siblings have graduated from high school and gone to at least a community college. He wants to be the first to obtain a bachelor's degree. He is one of the most diligent students on my roster. I actually taught him last year for 9th grade English, and we have an easy rapport with one another. Another of these four is a known gang member who I have to admit intimidated me at first. I also had him last year for 9th grade English. He rarely spoke and barely passed last year. This year, he has a solid C average, he speaks in class, and he told me last week that I was his favorite teacher! In a teacher's world, there is no topping that kind of compliment! Both of these students have indicated a willingness to work hard in and outside of the classroom, which is the minority these days.

I am on the fence about undocumented individuals' contributions to our economy vs. their drain on our DSS services. It is difficult to understand where fact and fiction begin and end. However, there are many people who manipulate the system, take the free and public education they are given for granted, and feel entitled to everything without putting in any effort--and they come in all shapes, sizes, ages, and ethnicities. So, who really has the right to judge here?

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Misti Holloway


Wed Apr 13, 2011 9:18 pm
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So I'm really far behind in replying to this thread but I'll still share my thoughts. :lol:

I really enjoyed reading A Home on the Field for various reasons. The first is that I coach soccer at the high school in which I teach and I grew up playing soccer. I could feel the adrenaline rising as I would read the descriptions of the soccer games as Cuadros told them. Secondly, I liked the book because I knew of all of the North Carolina locations Cuadros mentioned in the book due to my parents and grandparents being from Aberdeen, which is about 45 minutes from Siler City. It was so nice to have relevance while reading!

Thirdly, and what I took from the book the most, was the idea that Cuadros never gave up as Nicole mentioned. Paul also used his resources. He was a very good example and reminder to me about how we often as educators don't use the resources and people around us to help achieve a goal. We go into a circumstance or situation thinking we have to do it all by ourselves. His effort reminded me of the famous quote "It takes a village to raise a child." Well it takes an entire community and school to educate a child.

Daniel, in reference to your question about understanding student absences for Hispanic students and showing partiality, I am on the fence with you! As an administrator I hope I will take into account each child's individual circumstances, however, I also wonder will I enable a child by considering their circumstances or will I help them to rise above. For me personally, there may have to be a "limit" that is reached in how much I excuse a child's behavior, absences, or missing work, etc. I think it can also depend on what level of schooling we are considering and what grade the child is in.

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Meghan Wood


Fri Apr 15, 2011 3:54 pm
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Thank you Dr. Turner for posting this information. I found it very informative. I feel that lots of people think that illegal immigrants just cost our government money and reap the benefits. However, this is not true. I have an illegal immigrant in my class who is a very intelligent young lady. It breaks my heart to know that she may be uneligible for college due to her illegal status.

But our job as educators is to encourage and inspire our students. It is hard being successful with this goal when they learn that they are unable to attend. I feel like Tina mentioned in class-helpless.

I feel that if more people knew the truths to illegal immigrants that the racist comments and actions could decrease some and our society would stop blaming illegals for the United States problems.

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(Ariana) Nicole Benton Hazelwood


Tue Apr 19, 2011 8:24 pm
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