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Critical Thinking and the Future of our DACA Students

This week it is likely that the President of the United States will provide direction regarding the future of students protected under the provisions of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). Just as we are concerned about Federal laws that govern our veteran and financial aid students, we also ought to think deeply about the potential impact on the over 2500 district-wide and 140 PVCC DACA students.

A 2017 Center for American Progress study found that DACA students were, on average, 6-and-a-half years old when they were brought to this country by their parents. It might also be argued that these students know only the culture of the United States of America.

I remain hopeful that our policy makers will engage in disciplined critical thinking as the future of DACA is determined. PVCC is “modeling the way.” Last week I had the pleasure of stopping by the “kickoff” meeting for the second cohort of the PVCC Critical Thinking Academy where faculty and staff are learning to integrate critical thinking strategies in curricular and co-curricular experiences as a way to not only further engage students as active learners but to also increase overall persistence and degree completion. The framework for the Critical Thinking Academy is provided by the writings of Drs. Linda Elder and Richard Paul who argue that critical “fairmindedness” comes from the intellectual foundations of: integrity, independence, perseverance, humility, courage and confidence in reason.

In further support for the need for able critical thinkers, Janet Napolitano, President of the UC System, in a recent San Francisco Chronicle article wrote “…truth telling is the essence of both teaching and learning…and we can draw on academic expertise and shared values…{so} it is important that we muster the collective will to participate fully in the public square.”

At the June MCCCD Governing Board meeting, two PVCC students – Maria Socorro Leon Pena and Angel Diaz addressed the standing-room-only crowd in support of our Board’s continued legal fight with the Arizona Supreme Court to maintain in-state tuition. It is clear that Maria and Angel articulated critically reasoned arguments to support educational access for DACA students. Their testimony also demonstrated that the PVCC programs Diversity Inc. and Emerging Leaders contributed to their “fairminded” positions. I encourage you to view their statements (Maria at 58:04 and Angel at 1:00:04)

It appears now that the future stakes for our DACA students may be much greater than merely holding on to in-state tuition – they may be holding on to keeping their dream alive and their valued critical thinking skills as a part of the American future. It will be only through rigorous application of critical thinking that policy makers can address this complex issue in a fairminded manner.


Fall 2017 Start Up – Thank You


Thank you for an excellent first week of the semester. Your extra efforts to make students feel welcome and part of our community of learners is very much appreciated.

Please take a look at my semester opening reflections.

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