Aware of the free education provided by the United States government to any school age children, immigrants both legal and illegal continue to be attracted to the United States, migrating in an attempt to provide better opportunities for their families and themselves. As the number of illegal immigrants living in the United states continues to rise and the percentage of illegal immigrant households which consist of children also continues to rise, it is important for the American government to examine the effect that these illegal children are having on the United States public education system.
How educators and policymakers address the increasing diversification of the population will ultimately determine the stability of communities in the future.In order to produce a more effective public education system for students as a whole, it is important for the government examine the effects of the influx of immigrant students and learn to address the issues in a more productive way.Americans must ask themselves and answer the question, “How should the government better manage the influx of undocumented immigrant children in the public education system?”
In 1982, the supreme court case Plyler v. Doe, ruled “that public schools were prohibited from denying immigrant students access to a public education. The Court stated that undocumented children have the same right to a free public education as U.S. citizens and permanent residents. Undocumented immigrant students are obligated, as are all other students, to attend school until they reach the age mandated by state law (Olivas).” As an american citizen, it is crucial for our society to realize the effects of allowing illegal immigrants the right to free public education because the effects affect us as individuals and future generations in the american society. It is important for us to see if the benefits of allowing immigrants free education outweighs the strain it puts on our public education system.
Researching and answering the question “How should the government better manage the influx of undocumented immigrant children in the public education system?”, will help americans realize what laws and policies need to be edited, reformed, or added, to greater benefit our society. Answering this question will show us if we need more laws promoting and protecting immigrants rights which would bring in more immigrants or if we should create laws restricting the rights of immigrant children. As immigration continues to increase, and the children of immigrants fill more of the schools, educators will have to recognize and address the social, cultural, political, psychological, and economic complexity that is immigrant education in the twenty-first century.
“Despite several decades of reform, public education in the United States is criticized by some as not teaching all children effectively” (Koehler). Due to poor test results and low graduation rates, many taxpayers criticize public schools and want to see better results. Among many of the issues creating discontent with the public educational system, inequality of opportunity ranks high among citizens. Despite the historical promise of quality education for all children regardless of race, ethnicity, or income, many americans feel that many children do not have equal opportunities to learn and are not likely to attend a quality school. “Data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) reports that 63 percent of fourth graders perform at only basic, or below basic, levels in reading. Sixty-nine percent perform at these levels in mathematics. African-American, Hispanic, and Native American fourth graders perform consistently lower than their white counterparts”(Koehler).
These statistics show that over half of the students in the American educational system fail to learn high thinking skills. “And once again, this “bottom half” comprises primarily the poor and ethnic minorities”(Koehler). Majority of immigrants live in poverty.”The poverty rate for immigrants and their U.S.-born children (under 18) is two-thirds higher than that of natives and their children, immigrants and their minor children now account for almost one in four persons living in poverty”(Camarota). The high percentage of immigrants that live in poverty causes majority of their children to attend an underachieving school adding to struggles they already face as an immigrant and effecting their educational success.“The percentage of immigrants without a high school diploma is 30 percent, more than 3.5 times the rate for natives.”(Camarota). with out proper management of immigrant children in the school system, these underachieving schools will take the blunt force of the student population increase and due to lack of resources and funding the schools have, the schools will continue to strip the students of their equality to opportunity.
As the immigration population continues to increase “immigration has become the determinate factor in population growth. The arrival of 1.5 million immigrants each year, coupled with 750,000 births to immigrant women annually, means that immigration policy is adding over two million people to the U.S. population each year, accounting for at least two-thirds of U.S. population growth”(Camarota), it is important that the government learn how better manage the influx of undocumented immigrant children in the public education system to ensure equality of opportunity to american and immigrant students.
As taxpayers, citizens should especially be concerned with the amount of their money that is used to educate immigrants. In January 2011, it was estimated that 11.5 million unauthorized immigrants are currently living in the United States. Of these it is estimated that 1.5 million children attend a public school costing the government an estimated six thousand dollars a year per student. In addition to the six thousands per student the government also pays about $1.5 billion annually to pay the bi-lingual teachers which are necessary to teach and attempt to provide an equal opportunity to immigrant children. All together, the total cost of educating the children of illegal immigrants is around $52,000,000,000. Educating the children of illegal immigrants is by far the single largest cost to American taxpayers.
Even though americans are paying large sums of money to educate children of illegal immigrants, “foreign-born students ages 16-24 had a drop out rate of 29% while students ages 16-24 of foreign born parents had a high school drop out rate of 38.7%”(Illegal immigration statistics). This drop out percentage shows that despite the large amounts of money being spent, the government needs to find a way to better manage the influx of undocumented immigrant children in the public education system. Due to the large number and rising percentage of immigrants in our school system, the immigrants educational success will influence our nations future success.
Camarota, Steven. “Immigrants in the United States: A Snapshot of America’s Foreign-Born.” Center for Immigration Studies. Nov. 2002. Web. 03 Apr. 2012. . Website
Hernandez, Donald J. Demographic Change and the Life of Immigrant Families. Publication. New York: Foundation for Child Development, 2004. Future of Children. Web. . Report
“Illegal Immigration Statistics.” Illegal Immigration Statistics. Web. 03 Apr. 2012. . Website
“Immigration Statistics.” DHS. Web. 03 Apr. 2012. .
Koehler, Paul, and Joy W. Lewis. “Criticism of Public Education.” Encyclopedia of Education. 2nd ed. Vol. 5. New York: Macmillan Reference USA, 2002. 1948-952. Print. Encyclopedia Article
Olivas, Michael A. No Undocumented Child Left Behind: Plyler v. Doe and the Education of Undocumented Schoolchildren. New York: New York UP, 2012. Print. Book
Schoorman, Diyls. “Immigrant Education: Contemporary Issues.” Encyclopedia of the Social and Cultural Foundations of Education. Vol. 2. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 2009. 433-35. Print.
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