Missouri College Cuts Tuition for Undocumented Students

The state of Missouri does not provide in-state tuition to undocumented immigrant students by law at its public higher education institutions — but that isn’t stopping one college from taking action on its own.

The St. Louis Post Dispatch reports that St. Louis Community College has decided to offer in-state tuition to undocumented immigrant students. That will cut the tuition rate from the international rate of $209 to $98 for students local to the college’s area and $144 for other Missouri residents.

Since community colleges have much lower tuition than universities they are often the only place affordable for undocumented students. Undocumented students are still not eligible for federal financial aid.

“The door is cracked open a little bit for some students,” Faith Sandler, executive director of the Scholarship Foundation of St. Louis, told the newspaper. “It’s a great move on the part of the community college. Hopefully, others will follow.”

The University of Missouri-St. Louis is also considering cutting tuition rates for undocumented students. College officials said that it was rare that any undocumented student was able to pay out-of-state tuition to attend the college.

Students who were granted “deferred action childhood arrival,” or deferred action, will benefit from the change. It will be interesting to see if other states or colleges make similar action due to the deferred action policy, which will allow qualified students to stay in the United States for work and study.

The program, “Universidad Ya!/College Now!” based in St. Louis, supported the decision by the community college. The organization’s president, Washington Spanish professor Virginia Braxs, told the Riverfront Times that the move is a step forward. She noted that many of her students must support themselves by working through college.

“This community of young people is graduating from high school,” she said. “They face huge barriers. They make great sacrifices — all my students work part time through high school and college to contribute to their families.”

Related Links:

“St. Louis Community College Slashes Tuition Rates for Undocumented Students,” St. Louis Post Dispatch.

“STLCC: Undocumented Students with U.S. High School Diplomas Can Pay In-State Tuition,” Riverfront Times Blog.

Universidad YA! College NOW!

“Immigrant Students Seek Va. In-State Tuition Rate,” Diverse Issues in Higher Education.

New Jersey to Offer In-State Tuition to Undocumented Immigrants

New Jersey will finally move forward with allowing some undocumented immigrants raised in the United States to pay in-state tuition at public colleges and universities, following a long tussle back and forth about the legislation.

However, Governor Chris Christie is nixing an important piece of the legislation that would have awarded state financial aid to undocumented immigrants. Democrats had fought for the state financial aid to be included but lost, the Star-Ledger reported. Some states with similar in-state tuition laws do award state financial aid. Undocumented immigrants cannot qualify for federal aid.

The legislation would give the in-state tuition benefit to those immigrants who are graduates of New Jersey high schools and attended school in the state for at least three years, the Star-Ledger reported.

Christie said that he was committed to “tuition equality,” the Philadelphia Inquirer reported. Despite making that statement, he had been criticized previously when it appeared that he would not support the legislation.

“”These young men and women of our state – whom we have invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in their K-12 education – we’re now going to give them an opportunity in an affordable way to be able to continue their education,” he said.

The Inquirer reported that of the 15 other states offering in-state tuition to undocumented immigrants, the states of Texas, California and New Mexico offer state financial aid.

Upon the news, activist Giancarlo Tello — an undocumented immigrant from Peru — said he could now afford to attend college. He said he would “begrudgingly” accept an agreement without financial aid.

Related Links:

“Chris Christie and N.J. Democrats Reach Agreement on DREAM Act,” Star-Ledger.

“Deal Clears Way for N.J. ‘Dream Act,” Philadelphia Inquirer.

“North Jersey Student Living in U.S. Illegally pushes for tuition bill,” North Jersey.com

Schools Expand Dual Language Instruction to High School

A suburban Chicago school district with a Spanish-English dual language program has proven so popular that it will now be expanded to the high school level.

The Chicago Tribune reports that North Shore District 112 first began its program, which serves native English and Spanish speakers, in 1996. It has grown to 636 students, or 15 percent of the school district’s enrollment.

Students learn about 80 percent of the time in Spanish at the younger grade levels in kindergarten through second grade, and reach half Spanish and half English by about fifth grade.

The district’s Highland Park High School, which is 18 percent Hispanic, will add dual courses in science, social studies, and math in coming years.

Both native English and Spanish speakers see the benefit of the program.

Marco Ayala, a doctor, was born to immigrant parents but never learned Spanish. He wanted his son to be bilingual, however.

“We love seeing him do his homework in Spanish,” he told the Tribune. “Comparing his experience to mine, it’s been night and day.”

Links:
“Dual Language Classes Bring the Best of Both Worlds to District 112,” Chicago Tribune.
North Shore School District Dual Language Program

Study Measures Stress Levels Among Hispanic Parents

Hispanic parents who are recent immigrants experience higher levels of stress than U.S.-born Hispanic parents and immigrant parents who have been in the United States for a longer period of time, according to a new study by researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Overall, poor parents experience more stress than affluent parents. According to a news release, the findings were based on interviews with several thousand parents beginning one month after the birth of a child, and then at intervals until up to two years of age. Most of the parents were near or below the federal poverty level, defined as $23,550 for a family of four in 2013.

“The abundance of stress for poor parents is clear, potent and potentially toxic for them and their children,” said Chris Dunkel Schetter, a UCLA psychology professor and the study’s lead author. “Both mothers and fathers who were poor and members of an ethnic or racial minority group reported higher financial stress and more stress from major life events like death and divorce than those who were either just poor or just part of a minority group.”

According to the news release, stress was caused by issues such as parenting, finances, violence, deaths and racism. Stress was measured in a variety of ways, which included blood pressure and body mass index measurements.

The study found that low-income Latino parents were less likely than white or black parents to feel that their lives are uncontrollable and overwhelming. They also reported less stress from major life events.

Related Links:
“Study of Young Parents Highlights Links Among Stress, Poverty and Ethnicity,” UCLA Newsroom.

Utah College Leaders Support Immigration Reform

Eight presidents of Utah colleges and universities are calling on Congress to pass immigration reform.

The signers of the new letter include the presidents of the University of Utah, Utah State University, and Utah Valley University.

Immigration reform has largely faded from the headlines, but the presidents demonstrate that some groups are pushing to bring it to the forefront again.

They support making it easier for foreign students to obtain visas to study in science and engineering fields.

They also express support for the DREAM Act, writing that it would generate economic activity in Utah.

“Many of our future bright students came to this country as children and have been unable to take advantage of an American education and contribute to our economy because of their status,” the presidents write.

A study by the Brookings Institution found that 5,332 people from Utah applied for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program between August 15, 2012, and March 22, 2013. Deferred action is being awarded to some undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children.

The presidents conclude their letter by noting, “Meanwhile, too many people are living in the shadows unable to join our work force, gain an education, and contribute to the economy they live in while we face real worker shortages and slow economic growth.”

Related Links:

– “Utah College and University Presidents call for Immigration Reform,” Deseret News.


– Utah University Presidents’ Immigration Letter


– “Immigration Facts: Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA),” Brookings Institution.

Texas Study Finds ELL Students Face “Triple Segregation”

In Texas, poor Hispanic children who are English language learners often attend intensely segregated schools, a new study has found.

Such children face “triple segregation” because they are isolated by virtue of their ethnicity, socioeconomic background and language skills. The trend is found in both urban and suburban settings.

Education professors Julian Vasquez Heilig and Jennifer Jellison Holme from the University of Texas at Austin examined 2011 demographic data from the Texas Education Agency to make their findings in their study, “Nearly 50 Years Post-Jim Crow: Persisting and Expansive School Segregation for African American, Latina/o and ELL Students in Texas.”

The AP reports that in 2012, about 838,000 limited proficient children attended Texas schools. They made up about 16.2 percent of the total enrollment. In 2011, about 9 percent of Texas schools were found to be majority ELL, with most of those being elementary schools. The study reveals that of Texas schools with a majority ELL enrollment, 89 percent have a study body that is majority economically disadvantaged.

However, the study found a bright spot. Majority-ELL elementary schools were more likely to earn the state’s top ranking of “exemplary” than to be rated low-performing. The researchers found 72 “exemplary” and 15 low-performing majority-ELL elementary schools in Texas, noting that “the state should be applauded for these numbers.”

However, the researchers cautioned that those same children tend to go on to attend low-performing middle and high schools. And ELLs have very high dropout rates in Texas.

Researchers point out that Texas has a long history of segregating its Hispanic children. At first, this was accomplished by placing them in separate schools. Texas schools were targeted with lawsuits because of such practices long before the Brown v. Board case. Later, the state segregated children by placing them in separate classes within a school.

As a reporter, I visited many schools that had “triple segregation.” In Texas, bilingual education is required for ELLs when there is a large enough population and by nature of the program these children are placed in separate classes. Do bilingual programs inherently segregate? Are there benefits at all to this, however? The study acknowledges that this question has come up in debates over the instructional program.

“As the first-generation cases were resolved, the friction between bilingual education and desegregation became more apparent, as courts and districts sought to balance the need, on the one hand, to offer linguistically appropriate instruction for subgroups of students who do not yet speak English, and the danger, on the other hand, that such practices could result in racial and linguistic isolation of those students,” the study says.

Lastly, segregation has increased as overall districts and communities have become residentially segregated. Much of the residential segregation growth is happening in the suburbs.

This study is fascinating because it goes a step beyond racial segregation and examines a new type of segregation that has arisen based on linguistic isolation. It’s conversation worth having. It also raises the question, how does attending a segregated school impact how children learn English? And in a majority minority state such as Texas, are these trends just part of the demographic shift?

Related Links:

– “Study Shows Texas Segregated By Language,” Associated Press/Fox News Latino.

– “Study Shows Triple Segregation Persists in Texas Schools,” News Release, The University of Texas at Austin College of Education.

– “Nearly 50 Years Post-Jim Crow: Persisting and Expansive School Segregation for African American, Latina/o, and ELL Students in Texas.”

– “Cloaking Inequality” Blog (By Julian Vasquez Heilig)

Librarians Create Bilingual Reading List

In the Dallas school district, a group of librarians meets every year to create a special reading list for Hispanic children. The librarians strive to identify 20 of the best bilingual books for Spanish-speaking elementary school children.

The librarians call themselves the luminarias (lights used to guide the way), because of how they view their role as shepherding young readers. In Dallas ISD, this is especially critical since almost 70 percent of the district’s students are Latino, and nearly 40 percent are classified limited English proficient.

Reporter Stella M. Chavez of KERA radio reported on the group, and observed as children flipped through some of the books on the list at a local library. There is more than just an educational value to the list.

“They also love to see characters that are Hispanic and that’s starting to be more and more predominant but it’s far from where it needs to be,” Dallas elementary school librarian Maryam Mathis told KERA.

The books include El Fandango de Lola, about a Spanish girl who learns how to dance the fandango. The book La Hermosa Señora  is about the legend of Our Lady of Guadalupe. And Cuento de Noche is a bedtime story.

Have you seen efforts to compile similar reading lists?  

Related Links:

– “Librarians In Search of Books for Latino Kids,” KERA (NPR). 

– Library Programs, Dallas ISD (Scroll down for Luminarias Reading List)

– “For Young Latino Readers, an Image is Missing,” The New York Times.

Latinas 4 Latino Literature.

Study Charts Growth of Limited English Proficient Population in U.S.

Children made up a “relatively small share” of the 25.3 million foreign and U.S.-born people with limited English proficiency residing within the United States in 2011, according to a new study by the Migration Policy Institute.

The study charts the tremendous growth of the population, which is about 63 percent Latino. About 9 percent of the LEP population, or 2.3 million children, fell between the ages 5 to 15 category. This corresponds with about 16 percent of the English-dominant population falling within the same age bracket.

As study after study has found, most English Language Learners in American schools are U.S. citizens. About 74 percent of LEP children ages 5 to 17 were born in the United States.

LEP individuals also made up about 9 percent of the population ages five and older in 2011, having grown by 81 percent since 1990. They made up about half of the total immigrant population in the U.S. About one out of every five people in California were LEP, with the next largest population in Texas (both states also have public school populations that are majority-Latino).

The data may be more instructive on immigrant parents. About 10.9 million children ages 5 to 17 had at least one parent who was LEP.

Most of the male LEP population was found to work in fields such as construction and transportation, while working women worked in service and personal care jobs. Indeed, LEP adults were less likely to have college degrees and more likely to live in poverty.

Although the data does not solely focus on children, it provides some good context for articles focusing on the demographics of the LEP population.

Related Links:

– “English-Learner Population in U.S. Rises, Report Finds,” Learning the Language Blog.

– “Limited English Proficient Population of the United States,” Migration Policy Institute.

Study Analyzes Characteristics of Children of Immigrants

A new study finds that Hispanic children with immigrant parents and black children of U.S.-born parents were rated the lowest on well-being indicators when compared against other children.

The research also offers some insights into the attributes of immigrant families — their strengths as well as the significant challenges they face. According to the U.S. Census, children of immigrants are now about one of every four children. (However, it’s important to point out that most children of immigrant parents are actually U.S.-born citizens).

The study, “Diverse Children: Race, Ethnicity, and Immigration in America’s New Non-Majority Generation,” by the New York-based Foundation for Child Development, examined white, black, Asian and Latino children of both U.S.-born and immigrant parents. They broke out their findings into the corresponding eight groups, using data from 2010.

Children with immigrant parents, accounting for all four ethnic and racial backgrounds, were more likely to have an employed parents, more likely to live in a two-parent household, less likely to be born at low birthweight, and were less likely to be neither in school nor working between the ages of 16 to 19.

Meanwhile, children of immigrants across the four groups were worse off in terms of prekindergarten enrollment and health insurance coverage rates. As a result, the report urges greater investment in early education programs and health care.

“The families are good strong families when they come to the US, and yet we’re not supporting them in the ways that we could and should in regard to education and health care,” Donald Hernandez, lead author of the report, told the Christian Science Monitor. He is a sociology professor at Hunter College and The Graduate Center, City University of New York. His research focuses on immigrant families and public policy.

A number of other indicators were examined:

Income: According to the study, the median family income for Hispanic children immigrant parents is about $33,396, compared with Hispanic children with U.S.-born parents with a median income of about $42,696. Black children with U.S.-born parents fared the lowest of all groups examined, with a median income of $29,977.

Meanwhile, median incomes were actually higher in families with white and Asian immigrants ($75,044 and $79,848), than families in those ethnic groups with U.S.-born parents.

Secure Parental Employment: About 61 percent of Hispanic children with immigrant or U.S.-born parents lived in a home with a securely employed parent — compared with about 50 percent of black children with U.S. born parents.

Health Insurance: About 19 percent of Hispanic children with immigrant parents lacked health insurance and 15 percent of black children with immigrant parents lacked health insurance, the highest of the eight groups.

PreKindergarten Enrollment: Hispanics continue to be the least likely group to enroll their children in pre-K classes. Among Latinos, about 37 percent of children of immigrant parents and 42 percent of children of U.S.-born parents were enrolled in such classes in 2010. Other groups didn’t fare much better, with about 50 to 55 percent of children enrolled.

Related Links:

– “Diverse Children: Race, Ethnicity, and Immigration in America’s New Non-Majority Generation,” Foundation for Child Development.

– “Child Well-Being in Immigrant Families Differs by Race, Study Shows,” Education Week.

– “Who are America’s immigrant kids? Now who you think, study suggests,” The Christian Science Monitor.

– Foundation for Child Development

Nevada Funding Boost for ELLs Stirs Controversy

A $50 million boost in education funding may seem like good cause for celebration. But in Nevada, the reaction to the news has not been uniformly positive.

That’s because some taxpayers are miffed that only English Language Learners are the beneficiaries. The Las Vegas Sun describes how some critics believe the influx of funding “smacks of special treatment and seems like an unjust, unfair burden on taxpayers who must subsidize the education of a select group of outsiders.”

The word that jumps out to me most from that excerpt is outsiders. Unfortunately, when resources are tight, an “us-versus-them” conflict can surface.

The general public often views ELLs as immigrants — and they often assume ELLs are undocumented immigrants.

“How can I justify requesting millions of dollars for foreign kids when we can’t even help our own kids here in our own state?” one caller to a Las Vegas radio station asked, according to the article.

But the facts don’t bear that out. In Clark County Schools (which encompass Las Vegas), about 80 percent of ELLs are from the United States.

The funding situation was so dire that at one point the ACLU of Nevada, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), and Hispanics in Politics discussed a possible lawsuit against the state over the lack of adequate funding for ELLs.

A recent study by the UNLV Lincy Institute found that Clark County schools only provided $119 in funding per ELL students, compared with $4,677 in Miami-Dade Schools in Florida. About 94,771 Clark County students are ELLs.

It’s unclear how much $50 million will accomplish in terms of narrowing such a large gap.

According to the Sun, the influx of funding for ELLs will pay for items including pre-K and kindergarten classes, summer instruction, reading development, and new technology.

Related Links:

– “Funding boost for English-language learners prompts some backlash,” Las Vegas Sun.

– “Lawsuit Threatened Over Funding for ELLs in Nevada,” Latino Ed Beat.

– “Nevada’s English Language Learner Population: A Review of Enrollment, Outcomes and Opportunities,” The UNLV Lincy Institute.

– Clark County School District