Equity & Diversity

Panel Urges Greater Focus on Immigrant Children’s Needs

By Lynn Schnaiberg — October 08, 1997 2 min read

Urging greater Americanization of immigrants, a bipartisan, congressionally established panel called last week for increased attention to and resources for immigrant children in school.

Led by Shirley M. Hufstedler, who served under President Carter as the first U.S. secretary of education, the group’s 64-page report lays out recommendations for revamping the nation’s immigration system, but also delves into the integration of immigrants into American society and schools’ role in that process.

Created in 1990, the nine-member U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform was charged with analyzing and recommending changes in the implementation and impact of the United States’ immigration policy. The group released its final report to Congress last week.

Among its education-related recommendations:

  • Rapid acquisition of English should be the paramount goal of any immigrant language-instruction program.
  • Federal funding for students who speak a language other than English should be tied to performance outcomes based on students’ English-language acquisition and mastery of academic subject matter.
  • Data should be collected on immigrant students, including data on their linguistic and academic performance.
  • Programs that are responsive to the needs of immigrant children and that orient them to American school systems and communities should be encouraged, such as so-called newcomer programs that concentrate resources for immigrant students and eventually move them into the mainstream.
  • Students should be taught the “common civic culture that is essential to citizenship.”
  • Federal immigrant education funding should better keep pace with the actual needs of schools serving immigrant students.

Range of Reactions

Not surprisingly, the panel’s school-related recommendations received mixed reviews.

“The recommendations here are exactly what we’ve been saying all along,” said Jorge Amselle, a spokesman for the Washington-based Center for Equal Opportunity, which advocates greater assimilation of immigrants and an emphasis on English instruction in schools. “Clearly, our concern is that we’re drifting away from assimilation and into a negative multiculturalism that emphasizes differences instead of similarities.”

But Joan M. First, the executive director of the Boston-based National Coalition of Advocates for Students, said some of the report’s conclusions were troubling.

“We are becoming more, not less, multicultural and multilingual,” said Ms. First, whose group works on immigrant education issues. “And as far as English goes, it’s the word ‘rapid’ that bothers me. Children in many places are being exited from programs too quickly with playground English and not academic English, which is what they need to access the full curriculum.”

For a free copy of the Commission on Immigration’s final report, “Becoming an American: Immigration and Immigrant Policy,” call (202) 776-8400.

Related Tags:

Events

School & District Management Live Event Education Week Leadership Symposium
Education Week's Premier Leadership Event for K12 School & District Leaders.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Law & Courts Webinar
The Future of Criminal Justice Reform: A Sphere Education Initiative Conversation
America’s criminal justice system is in crisis and calls for reform are dominating the national debate. Join Cato’s Sphere Education Initiative and Education Week for a webinar on criminal justice and policing featuring the nation’s
Content provided by Cato Institute
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
Equity, Care and Connection: New SEL Tools and Practices to Support Students and Adults
As school districts plan to welcome students back into buildings for the upcoming school year, this is the perfect time to take a hard look at both our practices and our systems to build a
Content provided by Panorama Education

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Equity & Diversity Opinion Researchers Agree the Pandemic Will Worsen Testing Gaps. But How Much?
Without substantial investment in their learning, the life chances of children from low-income families are threatened.
Drew H. Bailey, Greg J. Duncan, Richard J. Murnane & Natalie Au Yeung
4 min read
a boy trying to stop domino effect provoked by coronavirus pandemic
Feodora Chiosea/iStock/Getty Images
Equity & Diversity Opinion The Chauvin Verdict Is in. Now What?
Justice has been served in the murder of George Floyd, but educators must recommit to the fight for racial equity, writes Tyrone C. Howard.

Tyrone C. Howard
4 min read
People gather at Cup Foods after a guilty verdict was announced at the trial of former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin for the 2020 death of George Floyd, on April 20, 2021, in Minneapolis, Minn. Former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin has been convicted of murder and manslaughter in the death of Floyd.
Following the announcement of the guilty verdicts in the George Floyd murder trial this week, people gather outside Cup Foods in Minneapolis.<br/>
Morry Gash/AP
Equity & Diversity 4 Ways George Floyd's Murder Has Changed How We Talk About Race and Education
Floyd’s tragic death and the subsequent Black Lives Matter protests evolved the discourse about structural racism in American schools.
9 min read
Tyshawn, 9, left, and his brother Tyler, 11, right, of Baltimore, hold signs saying "Black Lives Matter" and "I Can't Breathe" as they sit on a concrete barrier near a police line as demonstrators protest along a section of 16th Street that has been renamed Black Lives Matter Plaza in Washington on June 24, 2020.
Tyshawn, 9, left, and his brother Tyler, 11, right, of Baltimore, hold signs saying "Black Lives Matter" and "I Can't Breathe" as they sit on a concrete barrier at a demonstration near the White House in the summer of 2020.
Jacquelyn Martin/AP
Equity & Diversity Opinion Students: Racial Justice Demands More Than a Lawn Sign
Our progressive town is full of “Black Lives Matter” yard signs and Instagram posts. So why do our schools still have huge racial disparities?
Julian Taylor & Phoenix Garayùa-Tudryn
5 min read
A crowd of people of color stand together
Iiulia Kudrina/iStock/Getty Images Plus