Keeping Schools Safe From Immigration Politics

I had the opportunity to sit down recently with Dr. Steve Joel, superintendent of the Lincoln Public School District in Lincoln, Nebraska to discuss the growing support amongst superintendents in this country. Joel shared his enthusiasm for a network boosted by The School Superintendents Association (AASA) that provides a year-round commitment to solving challenges that all districts face.

Commenting on topical issues in education, Joel expressed a shared concern among superintendents about possible new challenges ahead with the Trump administration and the new Secretary of Education. According to Joel, "One of the real fears and concerns across the country right now is, what if President-Elect Trump follows through on his commitment to deport 11 million people? How will that affect those in refugee resettlement communities?"

Resettlement is a hot topic for Joel as he fought passionately in 2006 to repair his district after a disastrous ICE (Immigration & Customs Enforcement) raid "ripped the guts" out of his community. Joel believes it's imperative that schools remain safe environments for children and not ambush centers for federal raids. Students should never be used for the purpose of getting to parents. It’s good to know that Joel can rest easier knowing that he has the support of a network of superintendents on his side.

Dr. Steve Joel has been superintendent of Lincoln Public Schools for the past 6 years, a district of almost 40,000 students and 8,000 employees. Previously, he served for ten years as superintendent in Grand Island, Nebraska, and eight years in Beatrice, Nebraska. A native of Long Island, New York, he has degrees from Doane College, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and Kansas State University.

Dr. Joel has been honored with a wide variety of awards and distinctions including: Nebraska Superintendent of the Year and Leadership Excellence by the Educational Resource Development Institute.  He also has been active in many community clubs and coalitions, and serves on a number of boards including the Chamber of Commerce, Foundation for Lincoln Public Schools, Lincoln Community Foundation, The Career Academy, and United Way of Lincoln and Lancaster County.

In his time as superintendent at various school districts, Dr. Joel has focused on comprehensive solutions to significant school and community issues. The immigration raid in Grand Island led to the formation of a community coalition to begin the arduous process of rebuilding community unity, and the tragic fire that resulted in a complete loss of the Lincoln Public Schools District Office allowed for the construction of a new facility. More recently, Lincoln adopted a comprehensive instructional technology plan and developed The Career Academy leading Nebraska into the next phase of K12 education.

Dr. Joel has also served as a consultant to school districts and businesses across the country in areas of strategic planning, team building, and conducting superintendent searches.

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About Rod Berger, PsyD.

Dr. Rod Berger is President and CEO of MindRocket Media Group. Berger is a global education media personality and strategic influencer featured in The Huffington Post, Scholastic, AmericanEdTV, edCircuit and in EdTechReview India and soon to be a regular contributor with Forbes.

Audiences have enjoyed education interviews with the likes of Sir Ken Robinson, Arne Duncan, Randi Weingarten, Sal Khan along with leading edtech investors, award-winning educators, and state and federal education leaders. Berger’s latest project boasts a collaboration with AmericanEdTV and CBS’s Jack Ford.

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