Stance on Illegal Immigrants Draws Ire

Sarah Fox, Lawrence Journal-World (Kan.), Dec. 29

State Board of Education member Connie Morris has once again fanned controversy with her comments about illegal immigrants.

Earlier this month she proposed changes to the state’s school curriculum standards, drawing fire from education advocates, Hispanics and a Lawrence filmmaker who has petitioned the FBI to see whether a complaint about him to the agency by Morris has put his name on any lists of suspicious persons.

“It’s typical Connie Morris . . . using the education of our children to grind her personal ideological ax,” said John Martellaro, board president of Kansas Families United for Public Education Inc.

But Morris defended her recent proposed additions to the state social science standards. To proposed recommendations that students be taught about immigration, Morris suggested that students also be taught about illegal immigrants and what they do to crime rates, education costs and language barriers.

“It’s facts; it’s history,” Morris said, defending her proposed changes to the standards. “Our children should not be subjected to inaccurate, one-sided dogma.”

On Dec. 14, the state board adopted one of several Morris suggestions about education relating to illegal immigrants, but in a version that toned down her original language, making it more general and removing her proposal’s negative connotations.

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During her campaign two years ago, Morris said Kansas shouldn’t pay for educating children of people working here illegally. That was despite a 1982 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that all children are entitled to public education, regardless of immigration status.

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E-mail Connie Morris: conniemorris2010@yahoo.com

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