The Count on July 17, 2018: 2,940 Children

A federal judge in Connecticut ruled that it is unconstitutional to separate minors from their families. Therefore, the two children sent to Connecticut from the U.S.-Mexico border were reunited with their parents on July 16, 2018. That leaves 2,940 children still  forcibly removed from their parents by the U.S. government.

The two children reunited with their parents are a 9 year-old Honduran boy and a 14 year old girl from El Salvador. Both children witnessed murders of family members by gangs in their countries of origin and escaped on foot with one of their parents. At the U.S. border, their parents were surreptitiously taken away from the children without any explanation to the children. The children were then transported to Connecticut.

There are three take-aways and two remaining questions:

  1. We, as U.S. citizens, owe a deep debt of gratitude to the Connecticut Legal Services and the Worker and Immigrant Rights Clinic at Yale Law School for taking this case and arguing it effectively. They did so in our name.

2.  We are a country of laws.

3. The judiciary branch of our government still functions.

4. How will our federal government remedy the very real trauma that it caused these two children?

5. How will the federal government reunite the 2, 940 other children with their parents and heal the trauma it has caused those children?

The Count on July 13, 2018: 2,942 Children

The court order for the United States to return 103 children under five years old to their parents by Tuesday, July 10, 2018 resulted in 58 children under five years old being reunited with their parents. The U.S. government said that 45 children were not united with their parents either because the parents had already been deported, were jailed,  had criminal records, or could not be found.

The ACLU has requested a record of the legal charges against the parents, but the U.S. government has refused to provide that information. The judge who issued the court order to reunite the children with their parents was dissatisfied with the efforts of the U.S. government and stated, “The parents are not applying for custody. They don’t have to prove they will be good sponsors. The government has to prove that they are unfit or a danger.”

There is no effective process in place to return children to parents whom the U.S. government has deported, no effective process in place to ascertain if criminal charges are politically motivated and irrelevant to the safety of a child, and no effective process in place to locate parents who have been released from U.S. government custody.

In Connecticut, lawyers, representing two children being held in a group home in Groton after being separated from their parents at the United States-Mexico border, will argue in front of a federal judge on Monday that the two children should be returned to their parents. The children, a nine year-old boy from Honduras and a fourteen year-old girl from El Salvador, came to the U.S. with their parents who are being held in detention centers in Texas. The boy came to the U.S. in June after traveling for two months on foot with his father from Honduras after the boy’s grandparents were executed with a machete and left for dead in the family’s backyard. The girl fled to the U.S. with her mother after the girl’s stepfather was murdered in a church while she and her mother waited for him inside the building.

The two lawsuits are being filed on behalf of the children by the Connecticut Legal Services and the Worker and Immigrant Rights Clinic at Yale Law School. These lawsuits, demanding the release of the children to their parents, are among only four being filed across the country and the only ones filed by children.

What will happen to the 2,942 children still being held by the U.S. government? If the U.S government could not reunite 45 children, 44% of the 103 children under five years old, how will it possibly reunite the 2,897 children between the ages of 5-18 who are being held? A federal court order states that the United States must reunite those 2,897 children by July 26, 2018.

We will see what happens.

Meanwhile, children are without their security, their homes, their parents, and without anything or anyone familiar to them. Some have been told that their parents are dead. All in our name. Shame on this administration. Shame on us if we are not outraged.

The Count on July 10, 2018: 2946 Children.

The number of children removed from their parents and incarcerated by the U.S. government is expected to be 2,946 by the end of the day today.

The U.S. government has been under court order to reunite the 102 children who are under five years old with their parents by the end of the day today, July 10, 2018, but the U.S. government will not comply with that court order. It will reunite only 54 children under the age of five with their parents, and it is unknown how many, or if any, of the remaining 48 children under five years old will ever be reunited with their parents. For example, nine of those parents have already been deported by the U.S. government and their whereabouts are unknown, and nine parents have been released and their whereabouts are unknown. Not one of those 18 parents is available for DNA testing.

Diane Ravitch, the highly respected author and expert on education, has noted that:

The world breathlessly watches as the Thai government seeks to rescue all of the 12 children and their coach trapped in a flooded cave, and cheers as each emerges, saved. At the same time, many people of the U.S. watch in horror at home as 3,000 children are lost, separated from their families at the border and dispersed to distant locations. The government was ordered by a federal court to reunite the children with their parents, at least those under the age of 5, now. UNDER THE AGE OF 5.”

I cried with relief when the second set of boys was rescued from the flooded cave yesterday and wait with heartfelt hope that the remaining boys and their coach are rescued today.

But what about the 2,946 other children also living in trauma?  What about the children living in trauma in our name, put there by our government? What media attention and creative energy can we give to rescuing those children?

The Count on July 8, 2018: 3,000 Children

According to the U.S. government, almost 3,000 children have been separated from their parents and are incarcerated by the U.S. government. Those actions deserve our attention because they are being done in our name by our government.

Separating children from their parents and incarcerating them tells a clear story. There is no ambiguity. The practice is cruel. It is producing trauma in children. It will prevent some of those children from ever seeing their parents again. Inhumanity is being visited upon children in our name.

Each day on this blog, I will report the number of children still separated from their parents and incarcerated by the U.S. government.

My hope is that one day we will each look at that number, even if the number is only one child, will rise up, and will say STOP: No more separated families in my name. No more cruelty to children in my name. I insist upon us being a better country.

Honoring Melody Herzfeld And Others


Melody Herzfeld won a Tony Award that honors educators.

Melody Herzfeld is a drama teacher at Marjory Stoneman Douglass High School.

Melody Herzfeld’s students so love her that they created a surprise for her. They performed on stage at the Tony Awards to honor her.

Melody Herzfeld protected 65 students by barricading them in a small room when a shooter was in their school.

Melody Herzfeld teaches students the power of having a voice and using it.

Melody Herzfeld is part of the unionized group that those who have a lot of money and no knowledge about teaching and learning (e.g. Bill Gates, David Coleman, Arne Duncan, Betsy Devos) say are the problem in education today: public school teachers.

Not true. The Melody Herzfelds are everywhere. I know them.

If there are teachers who do not inspire their students, do not educate them, do not protect them, and do not delight in them, then, as in all businesses, those in charge, the administrators, can do their job and remove them. I have done that job.

I cheer for Melody Herzfeld. She teaches with love and produces excellence. I cheer for legions of public school teachers who do the same every day.



Stoneman Douglass Students At Tony Awards



The students of Marjory Stoneman Douglass High School amaze us.

But wait:  Marjory Stoneman High School is a public high school. It takes all comers. It’s diverse: 59% of the students are white, 12% black, 20% Hispanic, 7% Asian, and 2% multiracial. Most stunning is that 23% of the students qualify for free and reduced lunch, which indicates their extremely low family income. There are no exclusions for students not having an aptitude for academics or not having English as a first language as in charter schools. There is no tuition for parents to pay as they must for most private schools even with vouchers.

What if our public school are not failing? What if we are failing them, as a country, by not supporting them and, instead, are putting our tax dollars into “public” charters and vouchers? What if the kind of excellence we saw from public school kids at the Tony Awards can happen everywhere if we as citizens and taxpayers want it enough?



Silence Speaks At March For Our Lives

Listen to Emma’s profound silence.

Remember the silence of students crouched in closets, hiding from the sound of an automatic weapon being fired in their school.

Think about the loudmouth lack of silence of the President of the United States as he played golf while Emma Gonzales stood without words.

Question the silence of the Members of Congress when students, teachers, and parents asked them to address  gun violence.

Listen. Listen. Listen.

Then VOTE. Vote in your precinct or vote by absentee ballot if you are away at school. Vote early if your state allows it, or vote on election day if that fits your schedule. Whenever. Wherever. However. Just do it.

Make Emma Gonzales’s silence speak for a new ethic, a new beginning for this country weary with the noise of greed and corruption.