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Study: No Child Left Behind? Not for Children of Immigrants

April 19, 2007

A new study from the University at Albany shows children of immigrant households make up 20 percent of all children, and they are increasingly at a disadvantage when it comes to early education. The report says children of immigrants don't receive the cognitive building benefits of pre-K because of language barriers and cost. Prof. Donald Hernandez authored the study.

"Many children in immigrant families unfortunately do not have access to early education. Children in immigrant families are less likely than those in native born families to be enrolled in early education programs. These households and the children in these households tend to be isolated from English speaking society, which can sort of act as a barrier."

Hernandez warns that not getting one-fifth of the nation's children in the classroom early affects the economy and the country.

This year, New York took the lead in early education by establishing free voluntary pre-kindergarten. But Joan Rochetta, director of educational services at the Child Care Council of Suffolk, stresses that early education teachers need to focus on language skills, especially for children who don't speak English at home.

"They should engage their children in casual talk, just so they learn the language. Then they're immersed in the language."

Rochetta believes that getting children of immigrants into child care isn't enough. Childcare needs to be high quality with trained staff and comprehensive education programs.

The study can be found at

Charles Lane/Eric Mack, Public News Service - NY