Category Archives: Education

Donate-a-book – Children in Fiji Need Our Help

Ok, this is my little way of helping the underprivileged children in Fiji — I am sort of limited in what I can do for now but hopefully that changes in 3-5 years.

I went to the best schools while I grew up in Fiji so the fact that some students did not have access to books was not something that I spent time thinking about (It’s generally not what children spend time thinking about either unless they are in that situation).

From Dec 1 to Dec 15, the Fiji Children’s Trust is holding a book drive for Daku Village school. The facebook event is here.

Donate a book for xmas and help a school build their new library!

Please contact us if you are in Fiji or post your books to the school.
Daku Village School
P.O.Box 400

I am sure a lot of us (especially the college students) have books to spare that would be of good use to these children. Think age group 4-10.

Join Books for Fiji on facebook to keep up to date with these and other similar efforts.

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Casting Your Answer Sheet as a 'Ballot' for Rejection doesn't Work

What am I talking about?

This question propped up during one of my torturous LSAT review sessions:

Q: In order to avoid causing inadvertent harm to their neighbors, householders ought to evade politely or refuse to answer a stranger’s questions unless the stranger provides some proof of being a government official pursuing official inquiries, in which the questions should be answered truthfully.

In which one of the following situations does Mary act in accordance with the principle above?

An INCORRECT Answer Choice
(D) Immigration officers, showing valid identification and asserting that they were on official business, asked Mary whether a neighbor who belonged to a local church that offered sanctuary to refugees lacking visas had sheltered any such refugees. Mary gave an evasive answer and warned her neighbor.

I wonder how a student who has undergone the experience of la migra showing up at her or his doorstep, or taking and deporting her/his family or friends would react to this answer choice and even question. Not positively for sure. It’s an answer choice that should have been avoided given the current climate — The LSAT is smart about these things at most times; heck, they even use gender neutral names (of course there have been times I have had to cringe and just assume that Sheila is a biological woman), but there are an overwhelming number of pro-environment, pro-diversity, even anti-government passages so this one came as a shocker. Anyway, mad props to Mary!

My hands were TWITCHING to pick this answer choice just to record my objection. Of course, on the real test, that means missing a point. Is it worth it? Have you ever picked a wrong answer knowingly as a conscientious objector?

Yeah, alright, I am going back to studying.

In a mad world, only the mad are sane” – Akira Kurosawa.

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Border No Boundary for Some Students

Students from a school in the Roma Independent School District cross the Miquel Aleman Bridge from Mexico into the United States.

Students from a school in the Roma Independent School District cross the Miquel Aleman Bridge from Mexico into the United States.

The Monitor photos by Gabe Hernandez  A student walks across the Miguel Aleman Bridge from Mexico to the United States with her guardian to attend a school in the Roma Independent School District.

The Monitor photos by Gabe Hernandez A student walks across the Miguel Aleman Bridge from Mexico to the United States with her guardian to attend a school in the Roma Independent School District.

A quick glance at all the border-binary related news for the week brought this amazing story to my attention.

“In so many families, the community is not divided by a border like the land,” said Elaine Hampton, a University of Texas-El Paso professor who has studied educational systems on both sides of the border. “It makes it hard to peg exactly where you live. What constitutes a permanent address?”

I think that is a critical question. There is no permanent and stable ‘identity’ and moreover, life in itself is not ‘permanent’ so how can anyone have a ‘permanent address?’ More people than ever before work, study and live outside countries where they were born and the numbers are likely to go up.

Coming back to the story, I am often amazed at the lengths that some parents go for their children, to provide them with a better future (or what they deem a better future). The presence of these students in schools across the border most probably enriches the classroom and provides for a greater cultural experience for everyone.

Of course, the nativists–devoid of any sense of history and borderlands culture–are going to express another round of outrage i.e. “Look they are sending their illegal kids to our schools, committing crimes by lying on public documents, overcrowding them, and decreasing standardized scores all at our expense!”

Look beyond the imaginary lines on a map. These kids know how to do that and challenge those arbitrary boundaries every school day. Why can’t everyone else?

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Church of England Owes Apologize to Dead Darwin

We all know he is dead now. But nonetheless, one clergyman thinks the Church of England shall apologize to the dead man. Maybe if we were to buy into the Hindu theory of Transmigration, Darwin might be a phytoplankton, an oak tree or bird right now, hence undergoing the processes of evolution himself. Alas, he might not make it back to his human form this time to report his findings due to global warming or nuclear war … From The Guardian:

The Church of England owes Charles Darwin an apology for misunderstanding his theory of evolution and making errors over its reaction to it, a senior clergyman said today.

In a bid to recognise its faults in the run up to next year’s 200th anniversary of Darwin’s birth, the church has launched a series of articles on its website.

An essay by the Rev Dr Malcolm Brown, the church’s head of public affairs, called Good Religion Needs Good Science directly addresses Darwin. It concludes: “We try to practise the old virtues of ‘faith seeking understanding’ and hope that makes some amends. But the struggle for your reputation is not over yet, and the problem is not just your religious opponents but those who falsely claim you in support of their own interests.

Next year also marks 150 years since the publication of On the Origin of Species, in which Darwin outlined the theory of natural selection. This anniversary, the church says, presents an opportunity “to look back on the relationship between Darwin, his supporters and the Christian church”.

He writes: “People, and institutions, make mistakes and Christian people and churches are no exception. When a big new idea emerges which changes the way people look at the world, it’s easy to feel that every old idea, every certainty, is under attack and then to do battle against the new insights.

“The church made that mistake with Galileo’s astronomy, and has since realised its error. Some church people did it again in the 1860s with Charles Darwin’s theory of natural selection. So it is important to think again about Darwin’s impact on religious thinking, then and now – and the bicentenary of Darwin’s birth in 1809 is a good time to do so.

A Church of England spokesman said Brown’s piece was a “personal view” of Darwin’s contribution to science and did not amount to an official apology by the church.

On this note, I came across a rather noteworthy point made in my Powerscore LSAT Logical Reading Bible (no seriously, that is the name of the review book). This was in the ‘Flaw in Reasoning Questions’ section, page 387:

Errors in use of evidence

Lack of evidence against a position is taken to prove that position is true.

Just because no evidence disproving a position has been introduced does not mean that the position is true. Here is a famous example:

“There has been no evidence given against the existence of God, so God must exist.”

I am sure my mother won’t be too amused with this one. I wonder how the rabidly religious students sit through the increasingly liberal, anti-imperial, gender-neutral, politically-correct LSAT.

Of course the trend nowadays is to formulate or conjure up hypotheses such as “intelligent design” to offer as ‘evidence’ for the existence of god.

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Making College Less Accessible for Immigrant Students One Lawsuit at a Time

Disclaimer: This issue does not relate to me. I am not an AB-540 student and nor have I ever benefited from it. But it makes me mad that people are scapegoating fellow college students who have worked really hard to get where they are .

Seriously, college education should be free for all and then we wouldn’t be fighting over the small piece of the pie. Alas …

Kris Kobach finally got his first and last victory in the battle to end in-state tuition for undocumented students. The 3rd District California Court of Appeal issued a decision yesterday that challenges a state law allowing some undocumented students to pay in-state college tuition. (Explanation here)

After losing the battle in district courts and appeals court in various states, Kansas Chairperson of the Republican Party, Kris Kobach made one final appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, only to be turned down. Obviously, the justices on the U.S. Supreme Court had nothing to say on the issue that hasn’t already been said by the district and appeals courts: the plaintiffs do not have a right to sue.

He vowed to keep trying to make life more difficult for undocumented students or immigrants without legal status (whom he would call ILLEGAL students) and collect more plaintiffs in order to sue states for providing in-state tuition to undocumented students who had graduated from those state high schools (i.e. in California, your eligibility for in-state tuition is determined by whether you have attended a California high school for 3 or more years).

(While we are on the topic of “illegal,” for those who don’t know, Kris Kobach is the GOP politician that sent out emails boasting about voter caging–an ILLEGAL tactic employed by the Republican Party to purge likely-Democrat voters from the polls. I thought ‘illegal is illegal’ – Why is this guy still allowed to roam around free after disenfranchising thousands of voters?!)

Addendum: This from Duke @ Migra Matters. “Look who was part of that class action suit …Brian Bilbray…ex-FAIR lobbyist and head of the nativist Congressional Immigration Reform Caucus …his kids had been living in VA and didn’t qualify for in-state tuition”


While the DREAM Act does not grant instate-tuition rights to undocumented students, opponents of the legislation have effectively spread myths purporting that “illegal aliens can get instate-tuition anywhere” with passage of the legislation. This is baseless and untrue–If the federal DREAM Act passes it would make this ruling ineffective or the plaintiff’s argument ineffective because it repeals the only statute that gives or may give these plaintiffs any legal standing (8 U.S.C. § 1623). However, that does not ensure that undocumented students would get instate-tuition at all schools because residency determination is a state prerogative.

Eleven states currently provide in-state tuition to children without legal status in the United States (Texas, California, Utah, Washington, New York, Oklahoma, Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota, New Mexico, and Nebraska.) ALL legal challenges and lawsuits filed against these states had been dismissed by courts until yesterday when the on-crack judges wanting some fame of their own reversed a decision by Yolo Superior Court Judge Thomas Warriner in 2006 that upheld the AB-540 tuition law passed by the Legislature in 2001.

While the courts in California battle over the issue, undocumented students are expected to continue paying in-state tuition till a final ruling is given on this matter. This also gives new purpose to California AB-540 students to push for the Federal DREAM Act, passage of which would strike-down the federal law prohibiting ‘benefits’ for undocumented students in higher education (unless citizens get the same benefit).

I believe Quaker sums the issue up best here in his own light comedic way for any passerby to understand. Rahman has another strong piece posted here that anyone defending in-state tuition for undocumented students should find helpful.

Below is some material that I had published earlier to provide a better background on the in-state tuition debate.


For a legal background of the in-state tuition debate, we first look to Vlandis v. Kline et Al (1973), in which two students who had recently established residency in Connecticut brought suit against the state under § 1983, alleging that the provisions of 1971 Conn. Pub. Acts § 126(a), which created an irrebuttable presumption of nonresidency for purposes of determining tuition between residents and non-residents in the state’s universities, violated the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the suit—“the state was forbidden by the Due Process Clause to deny an individual the resident rates on the basis of a permanent and irrebuttable presumption of nonresidence when that presumption was not necessarily or universally true in fact.” The court concluded that due process required that students should have the opportunity to present evidence of their bona fide residency within the state for in-state tuition purposes.

This holds true for undocumented students—children that are brought up in a particular state, and attend and graduate from secondary schools in that state should indeed be deemed residents for tuition purposes. Most statutes that give undocumented students instate-tuition are based on this premise. After all, as the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Plyler v. Doe:

  1. The undocumented status of these children vel non does not establish a sufficient rational basis for denying them benefits that the State affords other residents.
  2. Neither is there any merit to the claim that undocumented children are appropriately singled out because their unlawful presence within the United States renders them less likely than other children to remain within the State’s boundaries and to put their education to productive social or political use within the State.

Undocumented or Illegal is not an immutable characteristic for these students—it is subject to change. The U.S. Supreme Court recognized that the ‘illegal alien’ child of today could be the U.S. citizen of tomorrow and there was no way of determining that the undocumented child would in fact be deported hence, “it would of course be most difficult for the State to justify a denial of education to a child enjoying an inchoate federal permission to remain.” Similarly, since deportation is a federal procedure and until it is completed in cases of individual undocumented students, it is impossible for a state to deem that a person is a ‘non-resident’ for tuition purposes because s/he may just indefinitely remain in the state after establishing it as home. Hence, granting in-state tuition to undocumented students based on their residency in the state becomes a rational and reasonable objective for the state.

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Lost in Translation – Migrant Students Navigating the American Education System

I came across this blog through a Google Alert yesterday and it holds a lot of potential. Basically, the ‘owner’ is gearing up to get migrant students from his school to blog about their experiences, to tell their stories and helped by a grant from AILF. They may also blog in languages besides English (YES PLEASE). The idea has a lot of potential and I am looking forward to hearing some stories.

I don’t think I have ever written about my experiences as a LEGAL immigrant student at an American public high school. I would rather not revisit that period of my life. First, my counselor put me in a grade that I had already completed back in Fiji (10) not due to any scores but due to my ‘age’ – I discovered later that he did not need to do that. THEN, instead of placing me in tough honors classes since I tested above 12+, I was placed in almost-remedial activities like P.E., Art, English-P, Intro to Biology … I tried making up for this in Grades 11 and 12 when it became clear that the material I was learning seemed like Grade 6 in Fiji. The saving grace was the new policy debate program and Ethnic Studies that became the starting point of my activism and radical roots. Lets not launch into a discussion about how I found American students to be superficial and materialistic, not to mention culturally insensitive for making fun of my accent, Payless shoes and simple attire. Well, it still beat the rampant homophobia I experienced in Fiji so I ain’t complaining.

Sorry for the diatribe. It would be great if everyone with a pro-migrant and/or DREAM blog could put up a link to it sooner or later as it develops.

Also, feel free to bring to my attention other new sites or projects that are pro-migrant.

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Immigrant Students and Being Thankful to the United States

I am yet to understand why I should be thankful to the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA for my higher education.

Did the government pay for it? No.
Did they sit tests and write papers for me? No.
Could I have gotten the same education and made the same achievements anywhere else? Probably, given the amazing primary school education I received that enabled me to score at college standard when I arrived here. I always came in at Rank 1 from K-_____, whenever and that hasn’t changed. Studying in the United States, has nothing to do with it.

That does not mean I am not grateful for the opportunities this country has given me. I recognize them first-hand. I realize we are more ‘free’ here as women, our sexualities are less repressed, we may have more freedom of expression and more activities that we can do to distract ourselves.

I don’t see why I should be thankful to anyone besides my professors and colleagues, my parents (footing the bill) and myself (hard-work and intellectual acumen) for any of my educational achievements.

If you are an immigrant student, do speak.

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