Fear and Learning at Hoover Elementary

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The filmmaker named Laura Simon, was born In Mexico and her family Immigrated to America when she was SIX. She began her career working for a non-profit organization that dealt with immigrant rights and education. Her personal odyssey and involvement with dilemmas of her students led her to the making of Fear and Learning at Hoover Elementary. During 1994, California voters sanctioned Proposition 187, which denies public education and health care to all undocumented immigrants.

Hoover is the largest elementary school located In the Pico Union, known as the Ellis Island of Los Angels. It has over 2,700 students speaking 32 different languages; In which most are economic and political refugees from Mexico, Guatemala, and El Salvador living below the poverty line. The conflict over Proposition 187 leaves the children feeling unwanted and scared. Both the students and their families are unsure of the impact this new legislation will have on their lives as well as the fear of deportation. The movie is addressed by a fifth grader named Marry.

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Marry is nine years old and leads the camera around her school and around her single bedroom souse that she shares with three of her family members. She lives with her mother and uncle, both being undocumented immigrants from El Salvador. Marry is worried about the ramifications of being kicked out of school and if she was going to be deported. She talks about the impacts that Prop. 187 have on her and other kids at the school. The stories and voices of Marry and other students demonstrate the lack of awareness, compassion, and racism that exists at Hoover.

Mayor’s dreams were of going to school to become a lawyer because she wants to help people. Her life outside of school made me sad. She showed us spending the day alone In the apartment while her mother and uncle were at work. She was very bored and she was not allowed to leave the apartment to play because her mother felt it was not safe for her. There are a few teachers at Hoover that speak on this documentary about Proposition 187. One is Arcadia Hernandez, who was a daughter off migrant worker.

She thinks Prop 187 Is so popular with people here in the united States because It’s created an Illusion that if It passes all of the problems In this country will be solved. If the government Just got rid of the people who make everyone feel uncomfortable-?the poor, the homeless, the dark-skinned, and the people we don’t understand, all our problems will be solved (Simon). When I heard Arcadia say that statement I referred back to the book How Race is made in America. The Mexican immigration problem and the racial scripts to rationalizing groups that were already familiar to Americans.

Moline states that these racial scripts provided shorthand with which construct Mexicans as Inferior (Moline). On page 70, Moline stated: legislators lied on racial scripts to help people understand where these groups fit in the country racial hierarchy if they were deserving of citizenship. In this case, not necessarily citizenship but as though they were not deserving of education, public health, or belonging in the community. This refers back to what we discussed in class and makes the connection of: who is fit to be citizen?

Recall’s point of view associates to all of these things, how creating an Illusion of law will solve all of the problems. Picked grapes in Central Valley and to her there was only one way out. If she got good grades and went to college she didn’t have to pick grapes. So she decided to go to school and have a different Job with higher expectations and more opportunities so she never had to work as a farm worker ever again. The filmmaker, Laura Simon was also a teacher at the school. Her family came to East L.

A. And she had to sell popsicles on the street corner so her family could make a living. Along with Arcadia, Laura also decided that she did not want that so she decided to go to school. She states in the film, the anxiety of 187 caused and triggered a wave of citizenship applications in their community and that even if 187 never gets enforced, the damage has already been done to the people in the community. The talk about Prop 187 had ripped apart whatever contract the teachers had with each other at Hoover.

It started giving people a license to say things that they never would have said before. Simon was an immigrant from Mexico; she unravels the complications of the Prop 187 debate and its impact on Marry and other students at the school. She efficiently intertwines together the stories and voices of students and colleagues into collage that forcefully illustrates the consciousness and lack of consciousness, sympathy and lack of sympathy, and anti-racism and racism that existed at Hoover and at every school in the United States.

She introduced critical questions that cut across many educational issues: At whose expense do these public policy debates occur? Why do we bring policy debates regarding immigration into a context such as education and why do they experience the most powerful and detrimental impact? Another teacher at Hoover who was for Prop 187 was Diane Lee. She had a lot to say n the documentary which came off to me as uncaring. She seemed so emotionless like there are worse things in life.

She said things like; “if they love Mexico that much they should go back, and we need to take care of the children who belong here today (Simon). ” That was upsetting to me because people who come from Mexico are Just trying to make a better living for their children and families here because of more opportunities. She does not understand that or let alone understand the culture itself. Her upbringing was hardly like the hardships these people face. Since the beginning of mass labor emigration from Mexico to the United States, many of Mexico emigrants had informally crossed the U.

S. Mexico border (Hernandez). Diane also states that the schools are overcrowded and teachers are taking pay cuts, but it doesn’t mean that since they are not U. S. Born that they shouldn’t be there. Moline stated in her book that it was common for white Americans to discuss Mexicans at the “problem” of the Southwest and White Americans were not like them, and the best way to make this point was to compare Mexicans to others who have already been defined and established as nonwhite, non-normative and unfit for self- government (Moline).

This statement connects clearly with the way that Diane Lee thinks about immigration and Prop. 187. In the documentary, a TV ad stated: They keep coming. Two million illegal immigrants live in California. The federal government does nothing to stop them at the borders, but expects us to spend billions to take care of them (Simon). From Congress to school boards, Americans decried what many described as an “immigrant invasion” and a loss of control over the country borders (Hernandez). Illegal immigration is a problem; however Prop would have ever saved.

It would have kicked out about 300,000 kids from school and onto the streets, which means higher crime rates and 187 would do absolutely nothing to increase the number of enforcement at the borders. One argument that often goes hand in hand with immigration is that illegal immigrants create violence within a community. The librarian at Hoover Elementary even tried blaming the messy streets on the migrant children. However, the important thing to see in all of this is that crime is always going to exist in the United States you would think education would decrease the likelihood of the crimes being committed.

If the children were allowed to get off the streets and get an education, they would be able to see that there are other options to choose from in life and also finding or realizing a dream. This movie reminded me from an audiences’ perspective, despite common belief, even at elementary schools students understand and experience politic dissimilarity and immigration. The students often offer deeper and more of a critical insight than adults. Marry and the other students are torn, feeling unwanted and as Marry said in the movie “The American people don’t like us, and they don’t want us here”.

Marry showed how much she truly loved going to school and how important receiving an education was. Regardless of how children came to be in the United States, we have an obligation to provide them with education. Regardless of anyone’s personal opinion about immigration and how it relates to other issues in the United States, the important issues here is permitting all children to receive a free and appropriate education. Fear and Learning is an important, engaging, and an influential film made about education, fairness, and social Justice in the United States.

The film raises questions about race, ethnicity, language, socioeconomic class, and the intersections of these identities. It is an essential part of any multicultural or social Justice education film collection. Simon exposes a range of powerfully divided opinions on the issues of bilingual studies, the right to education, and the legal and political status of illegal immigrants. Moreover, I thought this movie was very powerful as it displayed the effect that Proposition 187 intended to have against immigrants.

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Fear and Learning at Hoover Elementary. (2018, Feb 02). Retrieved from


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