It’s been a full week since the state of Alabama’s new immigration law went into effect. In that time anyone with half an opinion on the matter, including me and NewsTaco, have unstrung our bags of thoughts and put them on the table. There’s been a lot of speculation, some if it backed by studies some of it not, about how the law would impact Alabama’s economy, workforce, and society in general. It takes time, generally, for the experts to gather numbers, arrange them on a spreadsheet and tell us what they mean. But there’s been one place where the impact was immediate and where the numbers need little explanation.
This Alabama immigration law required schools to ask for the citizenship status of all children enrolled.
As you’d expect, starting on the day that the law went into effect, many Latino children stopped going to school. We know for a fact that in the Huntsville city schools more than 100 children have been absent for a week – we can assume they are Latino, what we can’t assume is that they’re undocumented. The parents of some of those children may be, and that could explain why they kept their kids from school. But the fact that they aren’t in class is as solid as the morning roll call.
Huntsville’s WAAY-TV explains:
The 111 Hispanic absences on Monday is fewer than last Thursday and Friday, but is still roughly 70 students more than the average number of absences.
Now let’s crunch some numbers. We’ll start where the WAAY report leaves off:
Each student who leaves the Huntsville school system costs $4,500 in state funding.
Let’s round the absences to 100 and do the math. That’s $450,000.00. That’s a little more than three teachers, a couple of bus drivers and a cafeteria lady…at least.
The school district administrators are worried. They’ve been getting the word out that the state’s required citizen count is anonymous; that the schools are only responsible for reporting numbers, not names; that the law is only trying to accomplish a count, not a purge. Apparently, the state wants the federal government to take responsibility for funding the education of the undocumented.
(Huntsville Superintendent Dr. Casey) Wardynski says federal funding could make up for some of those lost funds: “It makes some sort of a case perhaps for federal aid, since the federal government’s responsible for protecting our borders. Perhaps the state of Alabama might be able to secure funding because there is an impact on the state for educating these children.”
You get the sense that this is going to get entangled in the larger states’s rights argument and end up in the Supreme Court. So let’s say that at it’s most benevolent level, the Alabama law was enacted to prove a point to the federal government. And in the process of proving that point, just in the City of Huntsville, 100 children have disappeared from school and the funding for at least six jobs may have been lost. It makes you want to know what the impact is in the rest of the state.
Great way to make a point.[Photo by Bart Everson]