What Part of Illegal Don’t You Understand?

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I’ve always been morbidly fascinated by people whose take on illegal immigration boils down to what part of ILLEGAL don’t you understand?

I’m sure some of you have said this yourselves: what part of ILLEGAL don’t you understand? The line seems odd to me because while we’re a nation of laws, we’re also a nation of casual lawbreakers. A lot of parents let their teenagers sip wine, maybe drink beer. We jaywalk all the time. We cruise thru stop signs and run red lights late at night. And while I’m sure you PERSONALLY have never had a drink too many and gotten behind the wheel, I bet you know someone who has. I’ll also bet you didn’t turn that person into the authorities, even though drunk driving kills someone every 50 minutes in this country.

I just read a version of what part of ILLEGAL don’t you understand in the Dispatch recently. It came in response to the case of Kelly Williams-Bolar. You may have heard about her. She is the Akron woman who, after someone broke into her house, enrolled her two young daughters in the much better suburban school district where her father lives. She illegally used his address. Williams-Bolar said as a mother, she wants to make sure her kids are safe, and make sure they’re educated.

One of her Akron neighbors was unmoved. Donna Blair wrote, “Shame on Kelley Williams-Bolar. We all want what’s best for our kids, but should we commit crimes to get them the best?” It’s as if she said: what part of ILLEGAL don’t you understand?

A judge agreed. For falsifying her residency record, Judge Patricia Cosgrove sentenced Williams-Bolar to 10 days in jail, two years’ probation and 80 hours of community service. Williams-Bolar is a teacher’s aide and is in school to become a teacher; both opportunities are now in jeopardy.

Did you know that public schools in Ohio differ dramatically in every way that matters to education? They differ in the availability of college prep classes. The number of experienced teachers, good textbooks varies widely. That’s not to mention the condition of classrooms and buildings.

Did you know that black and Latino students in Ohio’s largest cities attend schools with poverty rates two to three times higher than the schools attended by white kids?

A U.S. citizen should not have to choose between breaking the law and providing a decent education for her children regardless of personal finances.

What part of educational fairness and parental desperation don’t you understand?

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