December 18th is International Migrants Day (IMD), declared so by the UN in 2000 when it adopted the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families. Wow, I have never heard of this day or its purpose. But, my post is not about the (lack of) influence and relevancy of the UN, rather, it is about our US migrants, our newest citizens--legal or otherwise-- and how we adult educators integrate civics instruction in adult ESOL programs. I include a link to an opinion article, written by Andy Nash in 2010, that came to my inbox with information about IMD.
Andy discusses how ESOL programs do a good job of educating migrants to be responsible citizens, to pay taxes and find employment. Programs do a good job of preparing migrants to be participatory citizens, to obtain citizenship, vote, participate in their children's school activities, and the like. Programs fall short when it comes to preparing migrants to be action-oriented citizens. An action-oriented citizen seeks to change the status quo, find justice, and analyze and criticize government. Andy goes on to say how we need to report on measure of success that reflect civic engagement. She provides a model for civics instruction that her organization has used successfully in MA.
One of Andy's points on how to motivate migrants to become action-oriented citizens is to use a current event. She cited the example of 9/11 as an event that started dialogue and action. It is a sad reality that we often need a horrific event to rekindle an action-orientation in ourselves. In the wake of last week's tragedy in CT, perhaps another dialogue can begin. Civics instruction needs to be raw, and it needs to be honest. I feel we could all use some civics instruction right now. In closing, I appreciate the information on IMD, and the reminder from Andy that our newest citizens are here to help change the status quo.