Federal

Halt of Migrant Survey Viewed as Loss of Data About Working Youths

By Mary Ann Zehr — February 15, 2005 3 min read

The Department of Labor has temporarily halted the collection of data for a national survey of migrant and seasonal farmworkers that’s yielded information for the Education Department about working youths who do not attend U.S. schools.

The comprehensive survey, called the National Agricultural Workers Survey, has been conducted since 1988 and collects data from farmworkers age 14 and older. It provides information on past schooling, working conditions, wages, health, language ability, and other aspects of the lives of school-age youths as well as of adults.

Findings from the most recent study, published in 2000, showed that the farmworkers surveyed had typically completed six years of education. One in five had taken at least one adult education class, ranging from job training to English. Six percent of farmworkers surveyed were 14 to 17 years old.

The Labor Department is about to release a report using data collected in 2001 and 2002.

The Education Department’s office of migrant of education has used data from the survey to better understand school-age migrant workers known as “out of school” or “here to work” youths.

“It’s a loss because there’s no other [national] source for these workers,” Nancy Pindus, a senior research associate for the Urban Institute in Washington, said of the suspension of data collection.

She used information from the survey when conducting research on migrant workers’ health insurance and whether states would accept Medicaid when migrant workers had moved from one state to another, she said.

Veronica Vargas Stidvent, the assistant secretary of policy for the Labor Department, said she has called for a “temporary pause” in the data collection for the survey so her office can review the labor agency’s contract with Aguirre International, a Burlingame, Calif.-based firm that has conducted the survey.

“I wanted to make sure we are getting the data in the most efficient way,” she said. She emphasized that the Labor Department has not ended the survey, although she declined to estimate when data collection might resume.

Ms. Stidvent, formerly a White House aide to President Bush, was confirmed in her new position on Dec. 8.

She said she has been trying to rein in spending and is reviewing a number of Labor Department contracts. The National Agricultural Workers Survey costs between $1.5 million and $2 million each year, she added.

Lag Time?

Ms. Stidvent said she is concerned about the three-year lag time between when data are collected and when the statistics are reported to the public. She noted that the survey information is used by a number of federal agencies besides the Labor Department, and said that she is talking with other agencies “to determine the best home” for the survey.

In addition to using the survey to provide insight on out-of-school youths, the Education Department’s migrant education office has incorporated survey data into a report it expects to release this summer called “The Conditions of Migrant Children Report,” said Elaine Quesinberry, an Education Department spokeswoman.

The agricultural-workers survey isn’t the only source of information about migrant youths. The Education Department collects information on the number of out-of-school youths who are eligible for federal migrant education funds through the consolidated state performance report required by the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, Ms. Quesinberry said in an e-mail message.

For the Labor Department survey, researchers make contact with farmworkers at their work sites and arrange to interview them in their homes or at another convenient location, according to the department’s Web site. The researchers interview a sample of crop workers in three different cycles during the year. The survey has collected information from more than 25,000 workers since its inception.

A version of this article appeared in the February 16, 2005 edition of Education Week as Halt of Migrant Survey Viewed as Loss of Data About Working Youths

Events

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
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Culturally Relevant Pedagogy to Advance Educational Equity
Schools are welcoming students back into buildings for full-time in-person instruction in a few short weeks and now is the perfect time to take a hard look at both our practices and systems to build
Content provided by PowerMyLearning
Classroom Technology Webinar Making Big Technology Decisions: Advice for District Leaders, Principals, and Teachers
Educators at all levels make decisions that can have a huge impact on students. That’s especially true when it comes to the use of technology, which was activated like never before to help students learn
Professional Development Webinar Expand Digital Learning by Expanding Teacher Training
This discussion will examine how things have changed and offer guidance on smart, cost-effective ways to expand digital learning efforts and train teachers to maximize the use of new technologies for learning.

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

Federal Biden Calls on Schools to Host COVID-19 Vaccination Clinics for Kids 12 and Up
The president is focusing on vaccinating children ages 12 and older as concerns grow about the Delta variant and its impact on schools.
2 min read
President Joe Biden speaks in the South Court Auditorium on the White House campus, Wednesday, June 2, 2021, in Washington.
President Joe Biden speaks in the South Court Auditorium on the White House campus on June 2.
Evan Vucci/AP
Federal How Political Backlash to Critical Race Theory Reached School Reopening Guidance
A lawmaker wants Miguel Cardona to repudiate the Abolitionist Teaching Network after federal COVID-19 documents referenced the group's work.
6 min read
Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-N.C., is seen at a press conference at the U.S. Capitol on March 9, 2021 in Washington.
Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-N.C., is seen at a press conference at the U.S. Capitol on March 9, 2021 in Washington.<br/>
Graeme Sloan/SIPA USA via AP
Federal Biden Team: Schools Can Go Beyond Trump Rules in Response to Alleged Sexual Misconduct
The Education Department's guidance, released July 20, states that Title IX rules from 2020 lay out "minimum steps" for educators.
3 min read
Symbols of gender.
iStock/Getty
Federal Fact Check: After Furor Over 1619 Project, Feds Adjust History and Civics Grant Plans
A previously obscure history and civics program has weathered a political storm, but what exactly has changed?
4 min read
Education secretary nominee Miguel Cardona speaks during a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing on his nomination on Feb. 3, 2021, in Washington.
Education secretary nominee Miguel Cardona speaks during a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing on his nomination on Feb. 3, 2021, in Washington.
Anna Moneymaker/The New York Times via AP