Here’s a fascinating piece in Sunday’s Washington Post that details the ongoing struggle for U.S. public schools to handle the surge in immigrant students.
Of course, public schools may not refuse any student, regardless of citizenship, but the surge has resulted in middling investments in public schools, despite the increasing workload, many public education advocates would argue.
From Sunday’s Post:
Many of the new arrivals don’t speak much English and are behind academically. They often come with scars, having fled desperate poverty or violence or both. Many endured difficult journeys, sometimes leaving their families behind or rejoining parents in the United States after years of separation. And U.S. schools, already strapped for resources, are trying to provide special services, including English-language instruction and mental-health care.
There were more than 630,000 immigrant students nationwide in the 2013-2014 school year, according to the latest federal education data available, which defines immigrants as children born outside the country and enrolled in U.S. schools for less than three years. That figure has grown since immigration across the southern border surged two years ago: Between Oct. 1, 2013 and Dec. 31, 2015, federal officials released more than 95,000 unaccompanied minors into U.S. communities, virtually all of them entitled to enroll in public school.
It’s an issue with clear repercussions in North Carolina. Not to cite myself, but I reported in a December edition of Indy Week about the ongoing complications in public schools in North Carolina tasked with educating an estimated 2,000 so-called unaccompanied minors, many of them fleeing gang violence in Central America.
Oftentimes, such children, many of whom have traumatic pasts, go without increased social support or school programs in North Carolina. In a year where North Carolina’s investment—or lack of investment, according to critics—in public schools will be scrutinized, such children are likely to be an important part of this debate.