Imagine being the leader of a small school district. You arrive to work one day and discover that one in four students didn't show up for classes that day. What do you do? This happened to the superintendent of the 600-student Postville Community School District in northeastern Iowa. Since an immigration raid at a local meatpacking plant separated about 150 children from their families earlier this week, superintendent David Strudthoff has been trying to account for the children of those caught up in the raid. He has likened the situation to "a natural disaster where people lose their homes." "The only difference was that [this] was a man-made disaster, not a natural one," he told Education Week. "People were in shock. Children were without parents." This is not the first immigration raid to separate children and family members who are in the country illegally. And it likely won't be the last. As immigration authorities continue to step up enforcement efforts, there will be more superintendents like Mr. Strudthoff wondering where their students are.
In other education news, the Chinese government is under fire from citizens who are asking why so many schools collapsed in this week's 7.9-magnitude earthquake there. The quake destroyed 6,898 schoolrooms across a mountainous region in southwest China, according to the Associated Press. It is estimated that hundreds, perhaps thousands, of children were buried under collapsed school buildings. Chinese officials are now launching an investigation and promising to crack down on those responsible for the poor construction. In earthquake-prone areas of the United States, authorities say school buildings are safer because of stricter construction standards. But exactly how much safer are U.S. school buildings, not just in an earthquake but in any natural disaster? This may be a good time to raise those questions at your school.
Two voucher programs for special-needs students attending private schools in Arizona have been struck down by a state appellate court, the AP reports. According to the court's ruling, the programs violate a clause in the state's constitution that prohibits the use of public funds to help churches, private schools, and religious schools. In both programs, parents of children with disabilities received money from the state to send their children to a school of their choice. So even though the state was not directly giving money to private and religious schools, the indirect contributions ran afoul of the state's constitution. The court decision might be a setback for the federal Education Department, which wants to give Pell Grants to families of children in failing public schools so they can attend nearby private schools if they want.