It’s common knowledge now, most everyone stresses the importance of obtaining higher education. However, when the mandatory K-12 system is broken or fragmented among low-income public schools to begin with, what happens to those students who cannot build a pathway to college?
According to the Census Bureau from 2010 and 2011, there are more than 50 million immigrants, both documented and undocumented, who live in the United States. Out of those numbers, 23% live in poverty. Distressingly enough, children of immigrants account for one-third of children in poverty in the United States (Center for Immigration Studies).
Los Angeles, a county where there is a large presence of immigrant communities, has its public school district, Los Angeles Unified School District, which has the most English Language Learners in the nation of any school district. Just the general dropout rate is a little over 1 out of three students which indicates their low performance rates (California Department of Education Demographics: LAUSD). However, when you take a focus on the English Language Learners and minorities, these numbers increase and an even bigger achievement gap is created.
Interestingly, a video that featured, Cesar Sanchez Beras and the students of Math Science and Technology of Lawrence High School in Massachusetts created a video to shed light on the disparities in the low-income high school, just like the schools where many of immigrant children go to school. Upon interviewing, the students explicitly state that they see a need for motivation to foster an understanding of the importance of an education. One student says, “students are too compliant, too happy where they are… they don’t understand that, especially through education, they can go a lot farther” (Lawrence High School Interview ).
Furthermore, Beras declares that there needs to be a change in authorities’ perspective towards their community. Instead of having low expectations, they need to raise their expectations and invest in the potential of the students to produce better results.
Immigration isn’t something that’s going to magically disappear. As we continue to see an increase in United States’ immigration population, so we will see an increase in both immigrant school children and second-generation immigrant school children. Just as we advocate for an investment towards education, we should also keep in mind low-income schools when creating policies. In order to even consider access to higher education, we must also focus building a strong foundation. We now see a need for change, what’s it going to take to happen?
(Fifth graders Alexandria Ham, Kishannin Wright and Gary Nino at Meadow Creek Elementary in Norcross, Ga. Courtey of nytimes.com)