THE BLOG

Equality is Absolute

02/13/2014 11:59 am ET | Updated Apr 14, 2014
  • Amanda Fernandez Responsible for Teach For America’s Latino Community Outreach / Vicepresidente de Asociaciones con la Comunidad Latina, Teach For America

The legal and practical meaning of equality has continued to evolve since our country's founding. From the evolution of the Constitution, which initially didn't recognize Blacks as equals, to the actions of the Supreme Court, which deemed "separate but equal" education as constitutional and then reversed itself a half century later, there has been a steady beat of progress. And through the hardship and leadership of many, America has eventually extended protections to people from different racial backgrounds, with disabilities, women and the LGBT community.

Every one of these battles forces us to redefine what we mean by equality. For Teach For America, it's simple: Equality in educational opportunities is key in becoming the nation we aspire to be.

Undeniably, the most pressing issue of equality facing our nation today is immigration. And the leaders who are causing us to examine our actions as a nation are the DREAMers.

In this spirit, last year we took a stand in support of the DREAM Act, and in December we made an additional commitment by opening up admissions to our teaching corps to DACA recipients. We took these actions because we believe that individuals who were brought to the U.S. as children should have the right to access an excellent education, be able to fully contribute to society, and have the right to stand at the head of our classrooms. We stand in solidarity with documented and undocumented individuals brought here as children who want to use education as a way to contribute to our nation.

While it's unfortunately very divisive, we firmly believe in the incredible potential of DACA recipients. When I hear about undocumented individuals like Estiven Rodriguez, a high-achieving student in New York who just a few years ago came to the U.S. speaking little English, and the stories of the young talent who will be joining the corps soon, it's a no-brainer that these minds must contribute to the future of our nation. Since DACA recipients have earned their status as a result of educational achievement, these individuals should be able to lead our classrooms as well, and eventually have a path to citizenship though achievement in education. Our message is simple: "We believe in you. We welcome you in our places of employment. And we will stand with you."

Equality isn't selective -- it's absolute, and we remain hopeful that one day there will be a universally shared understanding of the full and complete meaning of the word.