The issue of immigration is a major concern for most Americans, especially under President Trump’s administration, which hopes to reduce the influx of foreigners into the US. It affects major issues in the US such as education, economics, and politics. In education, in particular, immigration has become a major determinant of school policies. It affects the ability of institutions to offers foreign students with necessary educational tools to facilitate effective cultural adjustments, especially in communication. In her article, for example, Carolyn Phenicie looks at the changes that one school in Colorado has made to accommodate the special needs of immigrant students in their academic pursuit.
Phenicie (2017) argues that unlike most schools in the US that lack specialized curriculum for immigrants, the New America School in Colorado has unique policies and tools that help foreign students adapt to cultural challenges. She notes that most American schools force immigrant students to adjust their cultural experiences and challenges, especially in language and communication, to the existing frameworks in the US. Consequently, most immigrant students trail behind in their performance and are more likely to drop out after their 18th birthday. Ideally, because most US schools do not consider the communication challenge for the immigrant students, they predispose them to failure and subsequent drop out before their graduations.
Essentially, she agrees with Sadowski’s (2008) sentiment that “many immigrants students struggle academically, leaving school without having acquired the tools they need to function effectively in the highly competitive knowledge-intensive US economy, where limited education severely impedes social mobility over time” (56). For example, in her article, Catherine notes that most of the students in the New America School, which is a high school, barely have sufficient English communication skills for easy tasks. As a result, they need intensified language training to help them understand the curriculum and catch up with their contemporaries in the nation. Although few succeed and gain the necessary communication skills before their graduation, many rely on the limited technical abilities they acquire for later success in life. Unfortunately, the majority who do not successfully learn the language are less likely to graduate.
Nevertheless, at the New America School, teachers such as Renzi have adopted better strategies to help students overcome their cultural barriers in education. For instance, teacher Renzi uses the Kahoot online game to teach students about maths and English simultaneously. She teaches the mathematical equations and symbols such as addition and subtraction using common English phrases. For example, instead of the subtraction symbol (-), she uses ‘less than’. Ideally, the integration system allows the immigrants students to prepare for standardized tests and improve their English proficiency, especially for disciplines such as maths that do not have language modification for non-English speakers.
In other words, with a knowledge-intensive economy such as the US, immigrant students encounter numerous challenges in their academic pursuits. They are forced to adjust to the new cultural and educational environment with minimal tools to help them in their adjustment. However, some institutions such as the New America School use different and better charters that offer the immigrant student with basic tools for the improvement of their academic performance. For instance, in the New America School, administrators prioritize progress over perfection in helping students improve their ability to compete favorably with others nationwide. They aim to prepare their students, particularly in math and English proficiency, to help them overcome other cultural challenges associated with their immigrate status. In essence, the New America School and the Colorado state have set an example for others to emulate in dealing with immigration and education in the US.
- Phenicie, C. (2017, September 17). ‘Last Shot’ New America Colorado Charter Juggles
Refugees, Immigration Fears, Alternative Education Challenges. Retrieved October 14, 2017, from https://www.the74million.org/article/last-shot-new-america-colorado-charter-juggles-refugees-immigration-fears-alternative-education-challenges/
- Sadowski, M. (2008). Adolescents at school: Perspectives on youth, identity, and education
(Second Edition). Cambridge, Massachesetts: Havard Education Press.