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Current News & Announcements

DAPA would lift 40,000 California children out of poverty: Study
Roque Planas
March 12, 2015
Huffington Post

For immigrants, fear returns after a federal judge's ruling
Julia Preston
February 20, 2015

New York school districts to stop asking about immigration status
Laila Kearney
February 19, 2015

New York compels 20 school districts to lower barriers to immigrants
Benjamin Mueller
February 18, 2015

Upcoming Events

Mexico City, Mexico
September 2015
20th Metropolis International Immigration Conference

Winter 2015
National Immigrant Integration Conference


Welcome to Our School

"Arrive on Sunday, school on Monday..."  So went an old saying in the immigrant neighborhood.


Public education is a central receptor of future Americans.

Immigrants with children prize education. For a significant portion, the education system in the United States is also very foreign and formidable. At the top and bottom of the achievement spectrum are the foreign born or the 1.5 generation children born to newcomer couples. One of every five children in public education is foreign born and one in four has a foreign born parent. 


The future of America has long rested on the pillar of education, but in a literal sense our future Americans are being fashioned in today's classroom. Amazingly, this is not a major focus of those most likely to help- school social workers.


Migration stress, acculturation complexities, family separations, status fears, language barriers and educational differentials play out in daily dramas within the school. The classroom teacher seeks to understand and to address student differentials but is clearly facing more work than time allows. Schools on the other hand have little incentive to assign personnel to the reception and integration of foreign born students, leaving them to cope alone and families to trust a system that enrolls but often fails to address the particular challenges of the newcomer.


A Russian parent is dismayed that his child was placed two years behind the work she had been doing before coming. A Somali refugee family, who fled war and suffering, disrupted education, and all manner of hardships, cannot understand the system in which they find themselves. The growing Latino agricultural community in Missouri is recruited to labor on the farm, but their children are deserted in the school house.

With over a quarter of a million school social workers in this country, a veritable army exists to address the need of newcomers and immigrant integration. Of course, the agenda is already full. Overworked staff try to address testing, placement and truancy and are not positioned, in the vast majority of situations, to offer programs of cultural orientation, of fostering parent engagement, of identifying community resources and of connecting families and agencies to one another. But when it happens, immigrant integration happens. New Americans -rather than marginalized ethnic minorities- emerge where there is attention to school culture, to origins, to orientation and to family dynamics impacting education. 


Of the 49 million children in public schools, well over 8 million go home and speak another language. At London's Institute of Education, Dina Mehmedbegovic writes about the success of schools where pluralingualism is the value. Three MILLION Londoners are foreign born. In schools where every parent regardless of English fluency is asked to come and to share something with their child's class the results are notable. Chaos? No. Rather, there is increased trust and engagement.  Students in schools with harsh 'English only' rules have been studied in comparison to students in culture affirming schools and the results illustrate the impact of school cultural decisions. Bilingual schools outperform monolingual ones, but there is a larger issue than language pedagogy at play. Where affirmation and attention is paid to national origin, mother tongue and one's cultural background, there is higher retention, attendance, graduation and matriculation into higher education.


When adjustment counselors are empowered to identify newcomers, address family needs, provide orientation and connect families to resources, similar outcomes are achieved. Early intervention, in reception and assessment and in facilitating cultural mediators and volunteer mentors (be they big brothers or adult members of the community) accelerates the newcomer's trajectory into social and civic life, as well as into educational attainment. It is clear that schools lack cultural models for all students and often cannot include speakers of all the native languages but multilingual notices, liaisons and interpreters at special parent sessions are giant steps toward a more intentional model.

In a recent report of new arrivals into the LA International High School, 65% of children had clinical symptoms of PTSD.  Averaging three traumatic events, children are particularly vulnerable and schools receiving unaccompanied minors are experiencing a significant need for concentrated mental health interventions.  Remembering that foreign-born children regularly  perform at the top of the achievement scales (approximately half of Boston's valedictorians are foreign born), the variety of situations suggests a great need for initial assessment and care. 


Many related issues demand attention, from the need to prepare future voters with civics classes (knowing these lessons also go home) to the human needs of children whose parents are out of status and their fears (as we wait for the legal challenge to President Obama's Executive Order to clear the courts.) Uncertainty due to the broken immigration system wastes young lives and taxpayers' investment, but the challenge on the immediate level of how school adjustment counselors see themselves can be addressed. If this army of 277,000 school and education related social workers were to be at the forefront of welcome, inclusion, social connection and family engagement, the larger issues of social cohesion, the building of a strong future America, would be in good hands. 


 Westy Egmont, Director

BCSSW Immigrant Integration Lab
The Migrant Education Program (MEP) provides extra support for students in public schools whose parents are migrant workers. Funded by the U.S. Department of Education Office of Migrant Education, it provides grants to state-level educational agencies to create programs that are aimed at migrant children in each specific state. Program officials identify and recruit eligible families by visiting farms, processing plants, and other work places that are believed to have many migrant employees. By providing assistance to individual students through programs offering extra help, such as homework assistance and tutoring, MEP ensures a high-quality education for migrant students and prevents children who may move between states from falling behind due to disparities among state curricula. The program also recognizes that in order to help migrant students, their families must be supported as well by offering parent empowerment workshops, family literacy classes, and English as a Second Language (ESL) opportunities. For more information on MEP, please click here >>. 

The production of "illegal" subjects in Massachusetts and high school enrollment for undocumented youth

Jefferies, J. (2014).

Latino Studies, 12(1), 65-87.

Jefferies examines the immigration laws and policies that contribute to the construct of "illegal" youth and its effect on educational enrollment for undocumented students in K-12 institutions. The focus of this research is on the state of Massachusetts, as it has seen a dramatic rise in migrants from the Global South in the last 30 years and a corresponding proliferation of implicit and explicit restricting immigration policies and practices. Using data from a 4-year ethnography study of recently-arrived undocumented male students in the city of Boston, the author explores their navigation process of enrollment in educational institutions. The findings show that there are three major factors that block or delay enrollment for undocumented youth in K-12 institutions: (a) fear of deportation, (b) lack of information about educational rights and (c) the role of youth in the labor market. The impact of  current immigration policies on  educational access for undocumented youth is discussed in the context of the 1982 U.S. Supreme Court decision of Plyler v. Doe.

 Read more > >



Determinants for after-school programming for school-age immigrant children

Greenberg, J. P. (2013). 

Children and Schools, 35(2), pp. 101-111

Immigrant children represent the fastest growing segment of the youth population in the U.S. today. Although much is known about the beneficial effects of after-school programming for children and youth, the literature dedicated to immigrant children is limited. The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of child and family characteristics that envisage enrollment in after-school programming for school-age children of immigrant and non-immigrant families. Data from the 2005 National Household Education Survey was used to compare the effects of child and family characteristics on enrollment in a nationally representative sample of 7,694 school-age children. The results of this study suggest that the importance of mother's immigrant status did not vary according to demographic characteristics such as ethnicity, household income and education. However, children of immigrant families were found less likely to be enrolled in after-school programming than their native-born counterparts. The study's findings demonstrate the need for social work practice and policy that address access and affordability of quality after-school programming for all school-age children.  

 Read more > >  



Teaching (In)justice: One Teachers Work with Immigrant English Learners

Lee, Stacey J.; Walsh, Daniel (2015)

The Urban Review, pp.45-66

A growing body of research advocates for social justice education to address the educational inequities facing immigrant students who are English learners (ELs). However, there are few examples of how teachers are conceptualizing and engaging in social justice education with immigrant youth, and even fewer examples of how immigrant ELs respond to social justice education. This article explores one teacher's classroom to see how immigrant ELs responded to a social justice education, which drew on insights from critical multicultural education and pedagogy. The lives of these students reveal the complicated and interwoven nature of injustices facing immigrants who are ELs and from low-income families. The students' stories demonstrate that a comprehensive social justice education for low-income immigrant ELs must address the reality of our globalized world, while also developing ways to address inequality. 

Read more > >


Who's segregated now? Latinos, language and the future of integrated schools

Gándara, P. C., & Aldana, U. S. (2014) 

Educational Administration Quarterly, 50(5), 735-748.

Despite the passage of Brown v. Board of Education in 1954, the segregation that plagued the country 60 years ago continues to affect the way Latino students experience the American educational system. This article offers a historical perspective on the attempts to address the plight of segregation of Latino students, as well as touches on issues of desegregation and language programming available to help English Learners. The authors believe that school and community leaders should focus on promoting dual immersion; creating International Baccalaureate and magnet programs aimed towards Latino/as, and especially English Learners; and offering them the opportunity to attend strong integrated schools.

Read more > >






The Children of Immigrants at School: A Comparative Look at Integration in the United States and Western Europe

By Richard Alba & Jennifer Holdaway

NYU Press (2013)

"Virtually all developed nations have become countries of immigration, and schools have become the crucible for assimilation in each society. The remarkable collection of studies assembled by Richard Alba and Jennifer Holdaway reveal how the children of immigrants are faring in schools of the United States, France, the Netherlands, Britain, Sweden, and Spain. Their comparative lens reveals the barriers to successful incorporation shared in all settings-segregation, tracking, unequal school funding, concentrated disadvantage and advantaged parents reacting to preserve the status quo. But the institutional variety they uncover also reveals many promising pathways forward. The book is of value not only to scholars of immigration, but to anyone concerned with educating the disadvantaged."-Douglas Massey, author of Brokered Boundaries: Creating Immigrant Identity in Anti-Immigrant Times


Immigrant Children and Youth: Psychological Challenges 

By Alberto M. Bursztyn Ph.D. & Carol Korn-Bursztyn

Praeger ( 2015)

Immigrant Children and Youth explores the topic of immigrant children's mental health from multiple perspectives while maintaining a focus on developmental needs and identifying the specific problems posed by linguistic and cultural transition. The authors present case studies and vignettes that portray vivid depictions of mental health issues, as well as highlight the importance of specific interventions. As new immigrant groups continue to settle in the United States, the social and emotional well-being of their children has far-reaching implications for the future of our society, making this volume of critical significance to a wide audience, including therapists, educators, policy makers, and child advocates.


Keeping the Immigrant Bargain: The Costs and Rewards of Success in America 

By Vivian S. Louie

Russell Sage Foundation (2012)

Keeping the Immigrant Bargain examines the lives of thirty-seven foreign-born Dominican and Colombian parents and their seventy-six young adult offspring, the majority of whom were enrolled in or had graduated from college. In contrast to the social exclusion experienced by their parents, most of the young adults had assimilated linguistically and considered themselves to be full participants in American society. The author argues the offspring of these largely working-class immigrants had several factors in common that aided their social and cultural mobility.  The children possessed high levels of self-motivation and had parents that were highly engaged in their lives and educational progress, though not always in ways expected by schools or their children. Equally important in the children's integration was the availability of key institutional networks of support, including teachers, peers, afterschool and other enrichment programs, and informal mentors outside of the classroom. These institutional networks gave children the guidance to succeed in school by offering valuable information to parents, who may have been unaware of the opportunities these networks offered.

Care & Advocacy: Narratives from a School for Immigrant Youth

By Jo Bennett

Information Age Publishing (2012)

Care & Advocacy is a book of oral narratives collected from participants at a school created for first-generation, immigrant youth. These personal accounts, written by students, teachers, administrators, professional staff, and support personnel, document the power of caring and supportive relationships in an educational setting. The narratives underscore the importance of collaboration between teachers, students, and staff and the ways in which their stories are relevant for any school setting. Nel Noddings' care theory comes to life through these stories by demonstrating how care theory can be practiced both inside and outside the classroom to bring about school-wide cultural change. Bennett's study shows daily interactions are as important as academic instruction to improve inequities within any school.


Leadership for Culturally and Linguistically Responsive Schools

by Martin Scanlan and Francesca A. López

Routledge (2014)

Leadership for Culturally and Linguistically Responsive Schools provides aspiring and current leaders the guidance to lead, organize, and support their schools in serving linguistically and culturally diverse students. Scanlan and López explore how schools can cultivate students' linguistic and cultural proficiencies, provide students with rich and challenging learning environments, and ensure that students are socio-culturally integrated. Bringing together research from the field of bilingual education and school improvement, this book provides a strong theoretical and research framework, as well as best practices for supporting all students.   


Home of the Brave

by Katherine Applegate

Feiwel & Friends; Reprint edition (December 23, 2014)

Applegate's debut novel tells a story of an immigrant child's dislocation and loss as he steps off the plane from Sudan into the Minnesota snow. Kek, the young Sudanese refugee's first-person narrative, is immediately accessible. The story takes the reader through Kek's job caring for an elderly widow's cow that reminds him of his father's herds, the kindness in his fifth-grade ESL class, and the racism he faces at his school. This story brings to light news images of refugees far away by focusing on Kek, a boy who is haunted by the guilt of surviving the atrocities of his home country.


I'm New Here

by Anne Sibley O'Brien

Charlesbridge (August 4, 2015)

Young readers from all backgrounds will appreciate this touching story about the assimilation of three immigrant students in a supportive school community. Maria is from Guatemala, Jin is from Korea, and Fatima is from Somalia. All three are new to their American elementary school, and each has trouble speaking, writing, and sharing ideas in English. Through self-determination and with encouragement from their peers and teachers, the students learn to feel confident and comfortable in their new school without losing a sense of their home country, language, and identity. Age Range: 5 - 8 years; Grade Level: Kindergarten - 3

EDITORS: C. Burrell, V. Corbera, W. Egmont, L. Falotico, L. Ferreira, K. Kalliontzi, J. Margolis & J. Nomeland