Jun-Yong Kim 2017-05-30 00:01:34
CONTEST WINNERS FIRST PLACE — THIRD TO FIFTH GRADE POSTER Deysi Gaona “TRANSFORMING AMERICAN DEMOCRACY” T.J. Austin Elementary Smith County Bar Association FIRST PLACE — NINTH TO 12TH GRADE POSTER Joelle MacDonald “EQU‘ALL’ITY” Young Women’s Leadership Academy Bexar County Women’s Bar Association FIRST PLACE — KINDERGARTEN TO SECOND GRADE POSTER Graham Jenkins “EQUAL PROTECTION” Orangefield Elementary Jefferson County Bar Association FIRST PLACE — SIXTH TO EIGHTH GRADE POSTER Madison Franklin “WHY IS IT IMPORTANT THAT ALL PEOPLE RECEIVE EQUAL RIGHTS OF EDUCATION?” W.H. Atwell Dallas Bar Association FIRST PLACE — PHOTOGRAPHY Dakota Barnett “PROHIBITED” Carver Magnet High School Houston Bar Association Monsters of My American Dream My boogeyman didn’t come from my closet with four flailing arms—it came from school in the form of 26 letters. After moving to the United States from South Korea, I sat helpless in classrooms with my limited arsenal of words as the beast of the English alphabet overwhelmed me. I watched my peers laugh and yell while I was spoon-fed the American Dream in an unintelligible language. From the beginning, our country has clashed when interpreting what the 14th Amendment truly guarantees. We’ve vacillated in ideology, from Plessy v. Ferguson to Brown v. Board of Education. But when it comes to parity in schools, it’s not so much about who’s right, but rather, who’s left. Without the 14th Amendment, millions in the United States would be left not only without proper rights, but more importantly the opportunity to thrive. Sure, the pursuit of equality is far from easy. But the United States is America because it chooses not what’s easy, but what’s best. Luckily, America has given me every opportunity to keep up with my English-speaking peers. In the 1974 Supreme Court case Lau v. Nichols, Justice William Douglass argued, “students who do not understand English are effectively foreclosed from any meaningful education,” in essence violating the 14th Amendment. The Lau decision disallowed for ignoring English learners and paved the pathway to ESL programs for students like me in need of extra assistance. No more did I cower in the face of the English language; with bilingual programs to integrate me into society, I was able to break the wall of language holding me back. No more am I hopeless; instead, I now use English as my tool to not just explain my thoughts, but to provide a voice to the voiceless. My local school district, Katy ISD, has been integral to my academic awakening. It prides itself on truly leaving no child behind with its promise to not “discriminate on the basis of sex, disability, race, religion, color, gender, age, or national origin,” and hence has become one of the best in the state. For the fourth year in a row, every campus met all four accountability indexes of performance, including increased academic achievement for economically disadvantaged students and underperforming ethnicities. Katy ISD has been a champion of acceptance and equality and has become a bastion of exemplary performance. That’s what equal protection under laws provides—it gives every student here in Katy the ability to dream without fear of discrimination based on color, money, or gender, from the immigrant to the impoverished to the handicapped alike. I once was told that the American dream is called that because you have to be asleep to believe in it. I beg to differ. The American guarantee of equality has instead shackled my nightmares and freed me to dream in real life. The monsters in my closet are on an unending sabbatical; the only beast left is my drive to capitalize on every opportunity equal protection offers me. Jun-Yong Kim of Seven Lakes High School in Katy represented the Katy Bar Association in the Law Day editorial contest, which explored the theme of “The 14th Amendment: Transforming American Democracy.” To see the full list of contest winners, go to texasbar.com/lawday.
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