Monday, September 6, 2010


I like to receive letters.  When I was a little boy, I lived on a straight street and could see the mail truck coming from way down the road.  After the mailman stopped in front of our house, I ran with hope in my heart down our front walkway, through the two maple trees Dad planted when I was born, across the street to our mailbox. Would there be a letter for me? Was someone in the big, wide world thinking of me?

One day last year on the school playground, a second grader handed a note to me.  She said, “One of your students asked me to give this to you.”  I unfolded the letter.

Dear Mr. Barton, hi it Odeth from 2th  grade  I miss you a lot  I wanted to know about you so much  I am being good  I am in 4th grade  Do you miss me.  I live in __________  I go to school in __________  I hope you will come to my school…can you come visit me in school  ask for my name…I am 10 year old  I want you to come to my school.

Your best student,

Odeth was a student in my very first class as an elementary school teacher. I still remember her big dimples and her inquiring mind. I teach in a school where about 1/3 of my students are from Mexico, Central America, and Latin America. Odeth and her family are from Guatemala.  

Michael W. Savage wrote an article for the Washington Post titled “Oklahoma, South Carolina and Utah may follow Arizona's lead on immigration law.” He noted that the political climate in South Carolina improves the chances that our state legislature will follow Arizona’s lead and pass a strict new illegal immigration law in 2011. In 2008, South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford (R) signed an illegal immigration bill into law and touted it as the strictest in the nation. Some state lawmakers are seeking to build on it and introduced an Arizona type bill less than a week after Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed her states bill into law.

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, “politicians and media figures have only encouraged this environment by spreading false propaganda that scapegoats immigrants for our nation’s problems and foments resentment and hate against them. This discrimination against immigrants – primarily those from Latin America – constitutes a civil rights crisis.”

In his Foreword to Three Screenplays, Horton Foote wrote about creating a screenplay from Harper Lees monumental novel To Kill A Mockingbird and discovering “the evil and hypocrisy in this small southern pastoral town along with and through the eyes of the children.”

I hope you will join me in remembering that behind demagoguery, political rhetoric, and laws there are children like Odeth, children with big dimples and inquiring minds, children who send letters hoping to be remembered, children who see.


  1. It's scary and sad that hate mongering and propaganda are still being used to stir fears among people.

    But you remind me that there are teachers out there doing an enormously important job - teaching compassion. Beautiful post.

  2. Oh - and the posting comments problem seems to be related to my work computer enviroment. Here at home it works! Hope you didn't spend much time trying to "fix" it!