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High School Student Suspended For Using ‘Illegal Alien’

The ‘Illegal Alien’ Suspension: Legal Vocab Brings Down an Aspiring Student

A few days ago, high school student, 16-year-old Christian McGhee, from North Carolina faced an untoward happening – he was suspended from school. What earned him this unfortunate consequence wasn’t an act of violence or disrespect towards staff, but rather the utterance of a term – ‘illegal alien’. This three-day suspension has the potential to leave an irrevocable mark on Christian’s scholastic journey, possibly even influencing the trajectory of his future education. Uncertainty hangs in the balance; could this impact his chances of securing a spot in a favored college?

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It is imperative to understand the root cause of this punitive action – the term ‘illegal alien.’ Not too long ago, this phrase was commonplace, even used by our own federal government to precisely and accurately refer to individuals residing in our country without legal permission. The term ‘illegal’, derived from standard legal terminology, describes anything against the law; ‘alien’ is a formal term for a non-citizen or foreigner. Thus, ‘illegal alien’ is an accurate descriptor for non-citizens who have entered the country unlawfully.

This brings us to an interesting question – if not ‘illegal alien’, then what phrase should Christian have utilized? Some individuals, potentially leaning towards progressive ideas, might propose the term ‘undocumented American’. However, therein lies a paradox. The descriptor ‘American’ doesn’t quite fit an individual who isn’t an American citizen.

Further, though they may indeed possess documents or identification from their country of origin, the fact remains – they are without necessary permission or papers from U.S. immigration authorities. Leading the charge for alternate terminology, progressive voices might argue for the label ‘dreamer’. Yet, isn’t it valid to say that most of us, if not all, also bear that title – we all dream about our futures, seek betterment and improvement in our lives.

In the face of this argument, some may suggest characterizing these individuals as ‘future citizens’. This gives an impression of inevitability, but the truth is we don’t know what the future holds. The term, to some, might seem like veiled code for ‘future Democrat voter’ – a politically-charged label that doesn’t much help to maintain objective truth in language.

In this backdrop, it appears that Christian simply chose straightforward language for his English assignment. He stepped away from euphemistic descriptors and stated facts as they are, thereby penning an articulate and lucid piece. Yet for this chosen clarity, he was reprimanded – a shocking incident in our educational landscape.

How far have we veered from appreciating crisp, clear writing in our education system? In 1946, renowned author George Orwell shared invaluable advice about writing in his essay, ‘Politics in the English Language’. He emphasized the usage of evocative, simple words over muddled, equivocal phrasing.

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Orwell’s clarion call was for good old English words, concrete and solid, that leave no room for misinterpretation. His intentions were for writers to convey their thoughts with economy, to be succinct through their writing. This was precisely what Christian did; he sought clarity and conciseness.

The repercussion he faced is unsettling. Today, students have to confront the reality that well-written assignments, clear language, can lead not just to penalties but also potential impact on their academic record. Such fear-infused classrooms are a far cry from fostering enthusiastic learning environments.

Indeed, this incident raises questions about educational standards. Has the classroom become a place of anti-writing, where eloquent language is scorned, and avoidance of direct rhetoric admired? It certainly seems that investigators of knowledge are being hamstrung for exploring creativity, language, and articulation. If such is the case, it would certainly count as a worrisome form of mal-education.

The current situation is unfortunate – students are penalized for their attempts to learn, write, and speak effectively. Here’s hoping that every student who receives punishment for clear and confident writing, like Christian McGhee, ultimately finds absolution. Highlighting these incidents is a necessary step towards changing the narrative, and offering support to affected students.

Christian’s experience paints a grim picture of his school environment, which appears to have adopted practices that deviate from fostering constructive education. If we examine this issue more critically, it becomes clear that educators who endorse such initiatives are failing in their primary duty.

Rectification is needed; it could be as drastic as dismissing such educators not for crossing a political bias, but primarily for failing to cultivate genuine learning. Education is a double-edged sword – it has the power to either enlighten or snuff out the brightest minds.

An English teacher’s role is to guide students towards effective communication. In this instance, it appears that a complete reversal is occurring; the teacher is inadvertently teaching students to write poorly, to take a labyrinthine approach to expressing their thoughts.

Observing this incident, it is hard to not feel empathy for the other students at the school. They seem caught in an educational structure that is far from ideal. Education is not ephemeral; it leaves a lifelong imprint on a person’s outlook and capabilities.

Sadly, if a student’s early education is packed with woolly, non-sensical ideas and poor language skills, it is a missed opportunity of the worst kind. It sets these young minds on a trajectory towards potential failure, for they are neither being allowed to think critically nor express ideas clearly – the cornerstones of a sound education.


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