HOUSTON — Comments made by Gov. Greg Abbott about who should be allowed to go to public school have some Texans very upset while others feel Texas school districts were never prepared to handle the ongoing influx of immigrant students.
Forty years ago, the Supreme Court ruled that all children in the United States have the right to public education, whether they were born here or brought here illegally.
Abbott said times are now different and immigration has overwhelmed the state’s schools.
“This is a real burden on communities. What can you do about it?” The Joe Pags Show radio show host asked Abbott.
During an interview on the conservative radio program, Abbott spoke about the impacts he claims border immigration is having on Texas' public schools.
“It’s not just Spanish that teachers have to grapple with, it's multiple other languages,” Abbott said. “The challenge put on our public school system is extraordinary.”
Many years ago, Texas law allowed school districts to deny enrollment to children brought into the country illegally. But in 1982, the Supreme Court ruled that was unconstitutional.
“The argument of the school children, in this case, is denying the ability to be able to obtain an education that you’re providing to everybody else is a denial of equal protection of the law,” South Texas College of Law professor Charles “Rocky” Rhodes said.
The case is Plylor v. Doe.
“I think we will resurrect that case and challenge this issue because the expenses are extraordinary and the times are different than when Plylor vs. Doe was issued many decades ago,” Abbott said.
Rhodes said that if the case were to be resurrected by the Supreme Court, its decision could be influenced by factors facing Texas schools today. But still, the idea that any child in the U.S. would be denied an education doesn’t sit well with a lot of people.
“Unfortunately, the damage is going to start happening now,” FIEL director Cesar Espinosa said. “People are going to start fearing, getting misinformation fearing their children will not be able to go to school, and it will impede a lot of parents from really concentrating on what is most important, which is educating our children.”
How likely is it that the court would overturn Plylor v. Doe? The recently leaked draft opinion on Roe v. Wade could give be an indication.
“There’s a pretty good chance they would overrule it in the type of methodology that was used in that case versus the type of methodology they want to use in future cases involving individual rights and liberties,” Rhodes said.