According to statistics, in 2010 about 40 million immigrants lived in the United States, including 2,4 million children (Krebs). All these children are studying in the same schools as the children of Native Americans. However, the attitude of teachers, representatives of the educational institutions and peers is considerably different. Children of immigrants face various difficulties, such as language barrier and problems with getting used to new culture and traditions. Race discrimination is also seen on all levels of education. The government makes considerable efforts to decrease these negative processes. However, these efforts are not enough for improvement of the situation.
Discrimination in Education
Immigrants represent a considerable part of the population of the USA. They come to the country and they want their children to receive an adequate education for a better living. However, a lot of difficulties of receiving appropriate level of education exist in the USA. The government should develop and implement more effective policy and provide various methodologies for helping children of immigrants in the new country, with its own traditions and language.
Earning Money for a Family
Some of the students state, that they are obliged to live their education because they have to earn money for themselves and their families. Most of the immigrants which come to the USA are poorer and less educated than Native Americans. They have to find a job and earn for a living. Often, they have no any time for education. The country and the government do not provide adequate money support to immigrants and their children. Children are obliged to drop their education, because they have to earn money for themselves and their families. In addition, many immigrants lived their schools and universities because they think that they will obtain more life experience and earn more money without completed education. They need to help their relatives immediately and they have no time for completing their education. A lot of students, especially girls, drop their schools because of early marriage and necessity to live in a family and to look after children. According to statistics, about 74% of Latino youth from the age of 16 to the age of 25 dropped their education because they have to support their families. Some of the students try to combine their education and their work. According to educational statistics, ‘more than half of immigrant college students are age 24 or older, one-third have dependents, and almost three-quarters work full- or part-time while attending school’. However, such an approach mostly leads to negative results, because students cannot study and have no ability to spend enough time for it. At the same time, they cannot make a carrier, because they are working part time and have uncompleted education. So, the government is not providing adequate sponsorship for children of immigrants, who are willing to become part of the American Society. They are obliged to drop their education and to find work. So, without completed education they most probably will not be able to find a good work and to have prosperous future.
The main barrier of children of immigrants when they are willing to obtain education is language barrier. A lot of immigrants and their children who come to the USA do not have adequate English skills. In some cases, children have some time to improve their language skills before entering an educational institution. However, in most situations, they go to schools without adequate language skills and face significant problems, because they just do not understand the language. A lot of students cannot obtain the higher degrees, because their knowledge of English language is not sufficient (Krebs). The government and educational institutions (schools, colleges and universities) do not provide the necessary educational opportunities for children of immigrants which have limited language proficiency. It should be mentioned, that parents often cannot help their children with home tasks, because of language barrier. According to statistics, about 40 % of parents – immigrants are obliged to ask somebody for translation when talking to school staff.
Adaptation and Acculturation
Immigrants who arrived to the USA face problems of acculturation and adaptation. These problems have considerable effect on children, because they face issues in communication and interaction with peers and teachers. Children of immigrants arrive to a new society with its own culture and rules. Some time is necessary for transition (Soojin). Often, educational institutions do not provide adequate support to the children. They are characterized as ‘disadvantaged’ and even ‘culturally deprived.’ In such a way, they are not considered as full and developed personalities. This reflects not just the vision of teachers and peers on young immigrants. It is an attitude of the whole society and nation. The government has to develop various projects for elimination of this attitude, because current trends are the foundation of our future. One of these projects is creation of transformative learning communities, where children can learn about new culture, society and its traditions, communicate with peers and teachers and develop their language skills.
The most significant problem of young immigrants in educational institutions is open discrimination against them. It can be performed by staff members (teachers and administration) and by the students. Teacher discrimination is reflected in discipline punishments during studies; for example, when teachers use more harsh punishments to students of particular race. Administration discrimination is reflected in over-penalizing minority students. The most common way of discrimination is discrimination by other students, which is reflected in various physical attacks against minorities; and organized actions against young immigrants in schools, colleges and universities.
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Governmental Programs Against Discrimination
The government implemented various educational programs for helping immigrants and their children to study English. The most popular and effective program is ‘English as a Second Language’ (ESL). Two year studies of English are performed in various educational institutions. More than 1 million students and adults take part in this program every year. On the one hand, it is a rather considerable amount, but, on the other hand, this figure is rather small as compared with the overall amount of immigrants in the USA. Usually this program is implemented in community colleges (The U.S. Immigrant Population: Demographics, Education, Labor Force, and the Economy). Most of the students which are involved in this program do not even have a High school diploma and are at lower levels of English proficiency. It should be noted, that in almost all community colleges, ESL program is a non-credit program, because most of immigrant children in the modern schools and universities are non-credit. So, immigrants and their children can afford it. The program provides ability for young immigrants to receive adequate education and to find a good work in future. However, studying the new language is rather difficult tusk for immigrants, especially for adults. According to the program, language skills are classified into six levels. Most of the immigrants who enter the program have one or two lowest levels. Only one third of them shift to the next level after one year of studies. In such a way, it is very hard for immigrants considerably improve language skills. In addition, it should be noted, that only small part of immigrants completed the full program that lasted about two years. A lot of people drop it because of lack of time and money.
To continue, various programs are implemented for helping people who dropped their education due to their job. For example, in the Columbus School District (Mississippi), Skype-based class are provided and in the Department of Education, there operates the Young Adult Borough Centers (New York City), where evening studies are performed (Krebs). A lot of immigrants do not have enough time or funds for evening or on-line studies. Additionally, such initiatives are pointed and they are not implemented all over the country.
Moreover, the government adopted a federal law Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. According to it, all schools which are funded from governmental budget cannot perform any discriminative actions. In such a way, any discrimination against immigrants is prohibited in schools. This is one of the most effective governmental solutions for children of immigrants. However, it is not enough to change a social attitude to them.
Children of immigrants face a lot of challenges in receiving education in the USA. Most of them come from poor families. They are obliged to drop their education for earning money. Not all of immigrants have good language skills. Lack of English skills does not allow them to receive a good education. In addition, these children have considerable problems with adaptation to new society and new social regulations. They have to get used to the new culture and new traditions. The government has adopted and implemented various programs and projects for helping young immigrants, such as ESL; on-line and evening education and law Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. However, they do not cover all the aspects of education and children of immigrants still face various challenges during the educational process.
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