Wed Jun 14th, 2006 at 09:14:38 AM EST
A few weeks ago, Nicolas Sarkozy, currently the Interior Minister of France and an odds-on favorite for his party's nomination in the next presidential race in 2007, sent out letters to the parents of hundreds of minor-aged school-children who are enrolled officially in french schools, informing the parents that they should prepare to leave France by a date-certain or face deportation by the authorities because these parents, whatever the legal status of their school-aged children may be, are not legal residents in France.
The reaction of these targeted children's class-mates at a number of schools was as categorical as it was immediate: no measure should be spared to prevent their friends from being removed from their school and deported.
The children made banners, posters, colored messages of support, wrote and recorded poems and songs of support, drafted letters to officials and signed and sent them jointly, assembled with their parents and teachers in protests--all of this in coordination with a spontaneously-formed group called "Schools Without Frontiers"--a variation on Doctors / Journalists Without Frontiers.
From the diaries - whataboutbob ?
This movement was the subject of this morning's [listen to the program here] "L'École des savoirs" program on
Radio France International.
story-brief from the web-site:
"Ylénia, a little eleven year-old Romanian girl, is an excellent student in her 5th-grade class in the Paris suburbs. A few weeks ago, her parents' request for residents' status, pending over the past four years, was rejected. The parents, students, the teachers...the entire school where Ylénia is enrolled mobilised to raise petitions and meetings at the suburb's departmental administrative offices. 4000 signatures later, the departmental administration promised a residency permit valid for a year. At the same time, Nicolas Sarkozy announced his desire to regularize nearly 720 families of school-aged children enrolled in public schools. A drop in the bucket in the view of the activists. Between 10,000 and 50,000 enrolled school-children remain at risk of being expelled from the country by the 30th of June."
To listen to these 5th graders explain in their simple, straight-forward, naïve manner, why they want their friend and class-mate to be allowed to remain, to hear them describe what to them is right and what wrong, is to feel at once pride and shame.
These children, seeing things as they do, understanding the moral imperatives as some of the most politically-influential adults so high above them in rank and power, seemingly do not, shame us. The childrens' trust in what they know is right shames us. Their grasp of right and wrong shames our own. Their refusal to accept what adults yield to as "just the way it is," shames us. By their example, we fall short.