We live in an era of mass migration. Young people – whether they are part of an arriving or receiving culture – strive to form their identities as learners, community members, and change-makers in the context of this global phenomenon.
One-quarter of all children under the ages of eighteen across developing nations have an immigrant parent. Finding ways to facilitate their flourishing and successful social inclusion is both a demographic and a democratic imperative. Despite the rapid growth in the number of children and youth from immigrant families and the challenging circumstances they face, many adults that serve them do not understand them or feel ill-prepared to serve their needs. At the same time, xenophobia and myths about immigration are on the rise. Inside and outside of classrooms, misunderstandings about newcomers sew division, undermining social, economic, and democratic prospects for us all.
[T]he success and inclusion of immigrant children in our society will shape our destiny. Their future is our future. How else will California remain the fifth-largest economy in the world if it doesn’t give these children the tools to thrive in the new economies of the 21st century? How can we ensure the children of Syrian refugees in Germany participate in democratic institutions and socially integrate if our politics are driven by anti-immigration fear and hate?
Carola Suárez-Orozco and Marcelo Suárez-Orozco, Washington Post, September 20, 2018
The Urgent Need
Given the rapid growth in the number of children and youth from immigrant families and the difficult circumstances they face, neither ignoring the situation nor addressing it with ad hoc solutions is an option. Too often, education about migration is reduced to a focus on immigrant-origin youth. When questions about immigration come up for schools, most eyes turn to the most visible cases, newcomers to our nation and neighborhoods. Complicating matters, many newcomers are often isolated by language, and their success is often solely gauged through their English proficiency, preventing the development of their full human potential and civic identities. Making migration solely the domain of those working with English Learners, and not that of all immigrant-origin children and school faculty at large, is likely to exacerbate notions of who is part of “we” and who will remain a “they” for the foreseeable future.
I was really struck by how we need all of society working to educate our
students—and loved how there were so many people in the room from so
many different walks of life. I love how we as a whole
community can help to support our students.
— Participant, Re-Imagining Migration Seminar
Our Solution: Migration and Education
We have developed: a fresh, new perspective on migration, recognizing it as one of our most basic human experiences; a new promising practices network of networks, built around this perspective that is adopted widely and effectively in schools, informal educational settings, and social change organizations; and a robust national campaign addressing this new perspective to positively re-message migration in a way that fosters the academic, social, and emotional needs of immigrant-origin and their peers.
Re-imagining Migration “has reinvigorated me as a teacher, inspired me as
a researcher, and encouraged me as an advocate and ally.”
— Participant, Re-imagining Migration Seminar
To this urgent work, we bring an accomplished record of research and effective program implementation, a growing network of networks, a nimble approach that allows us to pilot, test, scale, and disseminate strategies of understanding and empowerment.
Migration has been part and parcel of the human experience for at least 170,000 years, and while it ebbs and flows over time, it is ubiquitous. As we have seen throughout history, in periods of mass migration, newcomers are often met with skepticism and distrust. Educating young people to learn to live with, work with, and respect our differences is essential for the survival of democracy. Formal and informal education is the best vehicle to help young people learn how to develop civic agency, negotiate differences and develop a lens to help them understand and respond to the changes that are a predictable part of the experience of migration.
Schools are among the most pivotal institutions that impact students’ lives. It is the primary place where young people are enculturated into the social and intellectual world around them. It is clear that the most effective way to ensure the impact of this education is by creating an educational culture that embraces the opportunities that come with migration and by providing the adults who teach and guide young people in and out of school with the most effective evidence-based learning opportunities and resources possible.