President Trump’s hard-line immigration policies had a profound effect on Colorado’s education community in 2017, with students taking to the streets, teachers recasting lesson plans, and school boards seeking to calm fears.
At a gathering at Denver’s South High School, a group of teenagers whose families fled persecution and war in their native countries decried Trump administration actions they say betray American values they hold dear.
Denver Public Schools took a number of steps this year as fears spread in immigrant communities about enforcement crackdowns under Trump, assuring families that the district will protect students’ constitutional rights. The state’s largest school district also joined with the Mexican consulate in those efforts and promised to build on their longstanding partnership.
Students made their voices heard loud and clear. In February, several Colorado school districts reported a spike in absences among students and staff during a “Day Without Immigrants,” a demonstration of immigrants’ contributions to society.
At northeast Denver’s Bruce Randolph School, sixth and seventh graders in an English language development class spent an afternoon tweeting to President Trump about their experiences, pride, and fears.
Trump’s plans to roll back protections for undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children generated a whole new wave of protest and concern.
Denver schools Superintendent Tom Boasberg predicted that repealing the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy, or DACA, would prove “catastrophic” for the school district and the city.
Not all superintendents were so vocal. Across Colorado, officials in districts with large numbers of immigrant students took different approaches to support kids without over-promising security they may not be able to guarantee.
In September, students from more than 20 Denver schools walked out of class and converged on a downtown college campus to protest President Trump’s order to end the DACA program.
The Aurora school board grappled with heightened concerns about immigration policy, too. Dozens of Aurora students and parents pressed the board to adopt a proposed resolution for “safe and inclusive” schools. The board ultimately adopted a resolution, but not before fault lines emerged over the intent.