We don’t think of the money we spend on education as charity. We are sold on the concept that it benefits us all to provide education to all. We do not even balk at spending more for educating “special needs” children. On what basis could we object to the costs required for any particular child once we have accepted the general concept of educating all the children? If someone were to claim that so much was being spent on Special Education that it was impacting the quality of education provided to the other students we would probably say, “well, we just need to come up with more money, then.”
But something about illegal immigrants upsets some people so much that they resent the money spent to educate “those” children, Here are some of the comments posted online to a Moline Dispatch/Rock Island Argus article about East Moline schools hiring bilingual staff to better meet the needs of students for whom English is not spoken at home:
This is an English speaking nation and I resent my tax dollar being spent on instructing anyone who don`t bother trying to learn the language of my country. Press one for English--press two for instruction on leaving the country until you do.
I have to say that I strongly resent the expansion of the ESL program, not because I hate children or can't stand immigrants, but because in an increasingly competitive world, our children are being left in a cloud of dust by an uncontrolled stampede of illegal immigration.
I don't believe my taxes should be paid just to educate my child, I do, however, believe that when it comes time for my child to receive their education I should be able to expect a sound, solid base. This cannot happen with limited resources (tax dollars) being stretched beyond capacity.
The bright children are left without challenge. More and more "gifted" programs are cut, while we spend our tax dollars on teaching basics like speaking English, and often to those who are here illegally or not paying taxes.
It is simply a matter of equity and sound governance, not a matter of racism. As we shift our resources from teaching science, math, arts, and music to programs teaching simple communication, we lower the level of education for all.
Of course, illegal immigrants do pay taxes. When it comes to the property and sales taxes that pay for education they pay just as much as anyone else. But that is beside the point. Our commitment to educating all the children is not based on how much the student’s parents have paid in taxes.
Why do these people resent the cost of educating these “special needs” children while not objecting to other “special needs” students? I think the people making these comments see illegal immigrants as “the other”, not like us, not part of our community. It is not inevitable that this would be so. Almost all the illegal immigrants came here for the kinds of reasons Americans normally approve of and identify with. They came here looking for work so that they could provide for their families. They heard there were jobs here and they came looking for work, not a handout. They do not qualify for food stamps, Medicaid or Section 8 housing.
Judging from the comments it seems the main reason they are seen as “the other” is because they do not speak English. It is not obvious why that should put them beyond the pale. My paternal grandmother’s parents and grandparents came as immigrants to this country from Schleswig-Holstein, in what is now Germany. My great-great-grandparents came to this country as adults and although they picked up some English they always spoke German at home. My great-grandparents learned English as a second language in school. I suspect that many of those posting those intolerant comments also have immigrant ancestors who learned English in school as a second language.