On Wednesday, Gov. Greg Abbott told a radio talk-show host that he’s considering challenging a Supreme Court decision—Plyler v. Doe—from four decades ago that requires states to offer public education enrollment to any child living in their state, regardless of their legal status to be in the United States. Condemnation for the governor’s comments was quick, including a statement from Texas AFT President Zeph Capo, who decried the harm it would do to children and our state economy.
“The governor is showing us that the cruelty in his heart knows no depths,” Capo said. “We’ve never before seen such division and callousness in Texas politics. Children shouldn’t be punished for the political ambitions of adults. Nor should they be judged for the decisions of their parents, who oftentimes are trying to provide a life for their children that’s free from violence.”
Capo noted that Texas has embraced the common-sense notion that it’s more productive to educate children than cast them aside because of their immigration status. “Just a few years ago, we were proud to stand with Gov. Rick Perry as our state passed the Texas Dream Act showing Texas had both compassion for children and the smarts to understand the positive outcomes doing so would have on our economy. The Supreme Court wisely saw the benefits of providing education for immigrant children—kids who will be educated and productive members of society. Educating children isn’t a partisan decision. It’s a good economic one. It’s the type of decision that has given our state and our country a competitive advantage over others that we can’t afford to lose.
Capo said Abbott’s pursuit runs against educators’ deep-seated belief that once a student walks through their classroom door, it is the teacher’s responsibility to welcome them and educate them. Abbott’s proposal would increase the possibility of spiteful activists targeting students and questioning their status. “Students would face speculation over the color of their skin or their accent, even if they are legal residents,” he said.
Capo added that Abbott’s comments show the importance of removing him from office. “This November, we have an opportunity to get back to the big and bold thinking Texas is known for or continue the cruel, small-minded thinking of a governor destined to isolate our state and erode our standing as a powerhouse across the world. Texas, it’s time for change.”