NYC Immigrant Students Increase Despite Lacking Resources
Thursday, July 6, 2023
A report finds New York City is shrinking support for its growing immigrant student population.
Since July 2022, more than 18,000 new students, most of whom are recently arrived immigrants, enrolled in New York City Public Schools. Mayor Eric Adams' draft budget calls for a series of cuts to programs proving vital to new immigrant students. One such program is Promise NYC, which provides undocumented children with access to subsidized child care and early learning programs.
Rita Rodriguez-Engberg, director of the Immigrant Students Rights Project at Advocates for Children of New York, noted funds for outreach to immigrant families are also facing cuts, which she said could be detrimental for immigrant students and their families.
"Families can't just receive notices, for example, over email or go on the daily website," Rodriguez-Engberg argued. "They need more engagement from schools, like getting letters to the home, getting phone calls, having more one-to-one contact, being in the community and getting information in their language about their children's education."
She added instead of cutting funding, more money needs to be put toward transfer schools, which help older immigrant students by providing English as a New Language courses, and working with community-based organizations to provide wrap-around services.
Advocates for Children of New York's report finds immigrant students had a dropout rate three times higher than non-immigrant students in 2022.
At the state level, Rodriguez-Engberg hopes officials can step in with increased funding for programs benefiting immigrant students. She recommends providing incentives for people wanting to become bilingual special-education teachers or other education professionals, and called for a focus on helping them.
"Because English language learners have been left behind for so long, I think it's time for the city and the DOE to pay more attention to them," Rodriguez-Engberg urged. "To have designated pedagogues at school that pay attention to whether or not English language learners can read, are participating in school, are receiving grade level content, and are on track to pass to the next grade."
For now, the state has allocated an additional $43 million to the Office for New Americans, to provide immigrants with support like free workforce development and English language learning.
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