"Education has always been a pathway to social and economic integration for every generation of immigrants and their U.S.-born descendants. The United States must make a commitment to ensure that all students, including those from an immigrant background, have access to a high-quality education that will prepare them for success in today's knowledge-based economy. Educating immigrants and their children is vital to our ability to remain strong and prosperous as a nation."
Andrés Henríquez, Program Officer, Education Carnegie Corporation of New York, New York
The demographic impact of immigration is especially visible in the children and youth population. Children of immigrants make up nearly one out of five K-12 students in the United States.[source] Their growth has been rapid, going from only six percent of the school-age population in 1970 to 19 percent by 2000. Given the size of this population, how our educational institutions receive, treat, and teach children of immigrants not only affects immigrant families but will determine our country's long-term economic and social well-being.
The U.S. education system, from preschool through college, plays an especially important role in integrating immigrants and their children. The system helps them acquire English, academic knowledge, vocational skills, and the history and values of their new homeland. For many immigrants, education provides the raw materials to build a better life, work toward the American Dream, and become full members of U.S. society.
This section explores the challenges of serving newcomers' educational needs, from pre-school through college, and identifies successful strategies and programs to address them. The primary focus will be on children of immigrants who live in low-income households and whose parents have relatively limited education.