Friday, March 24, 2017

Immigrant Children in Public Schools

The authors of the report do not consider the effect it’s having on American education, but an influx of poor uneducated non-English speaking immigrant children is surely not improving anyone’s academic prospects.

When we were discussing the gang rape of a fourteen year old in Rockville High School we raised the question of what happens to a child’s education when too many classmates do not speak English. How much learning can take place? How much classroom time is consumed by the need to discipline children who do not understand what is being said?

Steven Camerota has analyzed the statistics. He has discovered that the number of immigrant children has exploded over the past years. Surely this poses a problem.

He writes in the Daily Signal:

We find that nationally, nearly one in four students in public schools is now from an immigrant household (legal or illegal). The number of children from immigrant households in schools is now so high in some areas that it raises profound questions about assimilation.

What’s more, immigration has added enormously to the number of students who are in poverty or speak a foreign language.

All of this has occurred with little debate over the capacity of our schools to educate and integrate these students into our culture.

As recently as 1980, just seven percent of public school students were from immigrant households, compared to 23 percent today.

High-immigration states have seen even more dramatic increases: eight percent to 35 percent in Nevada, 11 percent to 34 percent in New Jersey, and 10 percent to 31 percent in Texas. Even in states that are not traditional immigrant destinations, such as Minnesota, Alaska, and Kansas, one in seven students are now from an immigrant household.

How well will these children be able to assimilate? Not very well, if at all. The issue is statistical. The higher the concentration of immigrant children in one area the more likely the community will retain the customs and the language of the old country.

On the one side, it is something of a saving grace that immigrant children live together. This means that there are fewer places like Rockville where a third of the students do not speak English and where students speak over a dozen different languages. (One notes, in passing, that this cacophonous Tower of Babel fulfills the great multicultural wish.) And yet, if immigrant communities are more homogeneous their children are less likely to assimilate. We are not at the point that Europe has reached with Muslim no-go zones in major cities-- we are a much larger nation-- but still the problem is there.

Camerota reports:

Immigrant households are very concentrated: Just 700 of the nation’s 2,351 Public Use Micro Areas account for two-thirds of students from immigrant households, but only one-third of the total public school enrollment.

There are many Public Use Micro Areas in which the overwhelming majority of students are from immigrant households—for example, 93 percent of students in North Central Hialeah City, Florida are from immigrant households, as are 91 percent in the Jackson Heights and North Corona parts of New York City, 85 percent in the Westpark Tollway neighborhood of Houston, and 78 percent in Annandale, Virginia.

As for the use of English in the home, the numbers look like this:

Immigration has also added enormously to the population of students who speak a foreign language. In 2015, nearly one in five students in the country spoke a language other than English at home.

As the old saying goes: Houston, we have a problem! We all know that this problem will cause more and more parents to withdraw their children from the public schools. Otherwise they would be sacrificing their children to the gods of multiculturalism.


Ares Olympus said...

Stuart: We all know that this problem will cause more and more parents to withdraw their children from the public schools.

Indeed this problem is alive and well in urban school districts, like Minneapolis has a relatively high immigrant population, and also a relatively high poverty rate compared to suburbs. And a good fraction of well off parents in Minneapolis don't send their kids to the local public schools, so the fraction of poorer, higher needs kids increase in classrooms, immigrants or not, and the result is a horrible 50% high school graduation rate.
Minneapolis had the lowest graduation rates compared to 50 other major cities, according to a study released by a Washington-based education group.

The city's four-year graduation rate was below 50 percent, while the national average is approximately 75 percent.

The group also found that only 4 percent of all Minneapolis high school students took the ACT or SAT, and students of color and low-income households were less likely to attend a top performing school.

So much for Lake Woebegon - everyone's above average because they've segregated the poor students to another distict!

And if we're grading schools based on test scores, public schools are going to look bad, and teachers will be overwhelmed.

Even back in the mid-1990s I recall being told there were over 40 languages spoken at my childhood elementary school. It was expressed as a fact of pride, but also showed the challenges.

On the other hand, immigration is the history of our country, and my Norse ancestors came over here in mobs and all settled together, and only Norwegian was spoken in the home of my grandfather. And he and my grandmother purposely didn't speak Norwegian at all to my dad as a child, not wanting to confuse him, although now we know it would have been better to be bilingual when you're young.

It must be very different in Europe where most countries already teach at least two languages, but that doesn't make it any easier for immigrants who speak a completely different language.

If I were to offer a suggest of a problem it might be to see that discipline is where the problem lies. Teachers and parents need to feel confident in asserting authority over children, and the loss of corporal punishment as an option surely must mean more time must be devoted to problem children compared to a slap on the wrist. And surely multiculturalism also causes problems because parents won't agree with what forms of discipline are acceptable and how they should be used. So perhaps this is where charter schools can do better, since the schools can set the structure, and parents will have to agree to send their kids there.

Being a teacher does seem like a very difficult job, and we've also shifted ever greater demands upon our schools, and in fact they are treated as "free daycare" with before-school and after school programs to keep the kids occupied until the parents get home from work.

It would be nice if we could just blame it all on immigrants. At least we should agree schools need to be able to set limits.

trigger warning said...

SS: "We all know that this problem will cause more and more parents to withdraw their children from the public schools."

Always a silver lining.