The Public Education System Is Being Threatened; Now Is The Time To Fight For Our Youth

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Ximena Alvarez, Contributor

It seems that the recent leaked draft regarding the decision to possibly overturn Roe v. Wade has sparked an interest in certain people to challenge additional Supreme Court cases. Among those is Texas governor, Greg Abbott, who has expressed his concern with public education expenses in addition to his opinion on undocumented children not even being deserving of education in this country. 

Abbott made a comment about possibly challenging the decision made in Plyler v. Doe, a case where it was concluded that states cannot constitutionally deny students a free public education on account of their immigration status. Ultimately, placing education under federal power—meaning that states cannot alter this ruling. Abbott claims, “The expenses are extraordinary and the times are different than when Plyler versus Doe was issued many decades ago.” It is very concerning, especially as a student in the public school system, that any governor of this country would consider public education expenses to be a “burden.” 

Public education is the backbone of this nation; defunding it would be a selfish act on behalf of Abbott’s desire and would ultimately set up the people of this country for failure. More than anything, it is a clear attack on low-income families who already have little to no social advantages—many of which prioritize education for their children with the hope for better futures.

Abbott was fueled on this topic on a conservative radio talk show, The Joe Pags Show, where both him and the interviewer focused on the funds that go towards children “who are 5, 6, 7, 10 years old, who don’t even have remedial English skills,” implying it is a waste. As a product of these bilingual services in elementary schools, not only is this an insult but also a violation of the country’s Equal Protection Clause, or better known as the 14th amendment. 

I distinctly remember my days in preschool and kindergarten where I was only able to take my placement exams in Spanish and how appreciative I felt of the teachers who worked to accommodate me and other classmates in need of the same services. It is hypocritical of a country who prides itself on freedom to consider the possibility of depriving children of their right to an education. 

This recurring hate against low-income, immigrant families is well supported by Abbott’s most recent attack as he blamed immigrant families for the nationwide shortage of baby formula, once again reiterating that they are not deserving of this survival product. Clearly Abbott’s agenda is not powered by his deep care of this nation—rather more by hateful, anti-immigrant, and racist ideals. 

One of his colleagues, state Rep. Claudia Ordaz Perez, D-El Paso, is feeling the tension and discomfort of Abbott’s hypocritical, racist rhetoric. “I think they just spew these talking points without any fear because they don’t live this threat,” Ordaz declares. “As a woman of color myself and then representing a community of color, these comments are scary — it’s resonating with people.” It really does put everything into perspective: how would a white man, who has always been upper class, know how to make decisions and accommodation for those in need? It amazes me that powerful people in the public eye are able to keep their power and influence regardless of the insensitive claims they spew.

Although Abbott gave no timeline for these plans, the absurd claims caused an uproar within immigrant rights advocates. With many trying to prevent the overturning of Roe v. Wade, they are finding themselves adding the protection of education rights to their advocacy list. This is something unfortunate in the aspect that the country’s values seem to be reversing in time, but nonetheless a very necessary fight.

While I may not reside in Texas, I do live in a border state and even then I shouldn’t have to justify my reasons for supporting the protection of equity in public education. This is an issue that affects everyone nationwide; access to an education is a human right. So come November, when Abbott is up for reelection, I hope my fellow Americans in Texas will realize the damage his hate-spewed agenda is causing this nation and vote him out.