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Two Events About Children

On Tuesday, September 25th, we attended two events concerning children and how their future is affected by events that take place in their early years. 

First of all, we went to the City Club where we attended a luncheon program titled But What About the Children? Why Revitalizing Cities Starts with Our Children and with Our Youth where the speaker was Dr. Gloria Ladson-Billings, Ph.D., Professor Emerita, former Kellner Family Distinguished Chair in Urban Education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and the President of the National Academy of Education.
(see her biography at https://news.education.wisc.edu/news-publications/learning-connections/2018-summer/ladson-billings)

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On this day, Dr. Ladson-Billings spoke of the need to invest in early childhood education for inner-city children as a means of transforming their lives and the areas in which they lived. In her address, she gave examples of two young boys born in close geographic proximity to each other whose lives had similar components (i.e. both fatherless, no siblings, mothers who struggled to make economic ends meet) but, due to early childhood educational program starting from day-care onward, one boy developed both social skills and a love of learning which enabled him to overcome his economic status and go on to having a successful life whereas the other boy, whose early years were spent mostly isolated at home watching commercial TV with a sweet but unskilled caregiver, didn't do so well.

In the course of her presentation, Dr. Ladson-Billings noted that an effective way to reduce budget deficits is to invest in early childhood development for disadvantaged children because "it creates better education, health, social, and economic outcomes that increase revenue and reduce the need for social spending." She cited evidence based on studies by Professor James Heckman, a Nobel Memorial Prize Winner in economics and an expert in the economics of human development.
(see https://heckmanequation.org/resource/invest-in-early-childhood-development-reduce-deficits-strengthen-the-economy/ and https://heckmanequation.org/about-professor-heckman)

Immigration didn't really come up specifically at the City Club on this day although a lot of what Dr. Ladson-Billings said could apply to young immigrant/refugee children as well because they are often isolated and confronted by language and cultural barriers.

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Unfortunately we had to leave the City Club a little early to make it to the Mandel School for Applied Social Sciences for a discussion titled "Childhood Trauma at the U.S. Border" in which featured a distinguished panel composed of:

The discussion was moderated by Dr. John Flores, Associate Professor of Immigrant History and the Co-Director of the Social Justice Institute (see http://history.case.edu/faculty/john-flores/) and was introduced by Dr. Francisca Garcia-Cobian Richter, Research Assistant Professor at the Mandel School, who was instrumental in planning the event.
(see http://msass.case.edu/faculty/frichter/)

The discussion mostly focused on children being detained at the U.S./Mexico Border and other facilities in the United States and what the long- and short-term traumatic effects might be, especially if they are separated from their parents. A large section of the discussion also centered on the potential trauma imposed by conditions in their homelands (such as Guatemala) that motivated them to make the journey to the United States.

Understandably, since many of the attendees were studying social work or psychology, the emphasis was on how to recognize trauma and treat it from a culturally sensitive perspective.

Other issues that were brought up included the history of detention for the undocumented and/or asylum seekers compared to what is going on now, the 1997 Flores v. Reno decision that set conditions pertaining to how children can be detained and that has been challenged lately, and proposed regulations which would allow children to remain with their parents in detainment for an indefinite time period.
(see https://www.cnn.com/2018/07/10/politics/flores-settlement-history/index.html?r=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.com%2F&rm=1)

Regarding the proposed regulations dealing with childhood detainment, it was said that while it was important for families to be united, this could be mean that they could be held for several years in a detainment facility under questionable conditions. It was also brought up that, in a attempt to hurry things along, the current administration is urging quotas to be placed on immigration court judges to take no longer than 15 minutes to hear a case.
(see https://www.sfchronicle.com/nation/article/Homeland-Security-seeks-indefinite-detention-of-13210957.php/)

Naturally, it seemed that all of the people there, both panelists and attendees, were very unhappy, if not outraged, by the status quo so it was asked what could we do as concerned citizens to challenge the current trend.

Among the suggestions made were to support groups like HOLA and partake in their activities and, above all, to vote in the November, 2018 election. It just so happened that this particular day was National Voter Registration Day and there were tables set up to register new voters both at the Mandel School and at the City Club. In fact, at the City Club, a person who registered there received a copy of the United States Constitution which we consider to be not a handout but a genuine gift-and a most appropriate one for the occasion.

We at Margaret W Wong & Associates are proud to be doing what we can to help immigrants to this country who want to strive for the American Dream and we second the importance of voting and keeping issues like these in mind at the ballot-box.

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Justin Faulhaber