Immigrant/Refugee Students Getting Much-Needed Attention

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There’s lots of attention lately on immigrant education, which is a good and important thing for education reporters to be thinking about. The US school population has recently become majority-minority, including immigrant and refugee students. Asian-American students are projected to outnumber black and Latino students in the not too distant future. Unaccompanied students from Central America are a new challenge (and opportunity) in some parts of the country. Refugees from further away are another.

Exhibit A is the Baltimore Sun recently completed an in-depth series about immigrant and refugee students that you should definitely check out. The story focuses on three high school students who go to Baltimore’s Patterson High School — including Narmin (above left), an Afghani refugee who came through Syria, and Monique (right), an African girl who’s new to formal education.  

There’s much to admire about the series, including the depth and nuance with which it describes the different students and their teachers — and both the challenges and opportunities that newcomer students represent to Baltimore’s long-term future. 

 

The series also features some really helpful visual elements, including a montage trailer and an overview video (above).  Without any outside funding, the Baltimore Sun here experiments with several digital innovations to help make the story as engaging and appealing as possible.

Not all of the innovations panned out, according to reporter Liz Bowie. The paper asked readers to share their own immigrant experiences, but didn’t get much response.  By contrast, the “How To Help” sections that come at the end of the pieces have proven much more popular with readers. 

The Baltimore Sun isn’t the only outlet looking at immigrant and refugee education issues. WAMU recently featured a segment about immigrant preschoolers noticing discrimination. EdWeek flagged an Indiana school that was attempting to ban undocumented immigrant students. Vox ran a story in the spring about the additional barriers that parents of immigrant children face engaging with schools. 

Most recently, the Hechinger Report just launched a successful crowd-funding effort to do more about covering immigrant education during the next year. (They’re currently at $42,000 raised.) So we can look forward to more coverage in the near future. 

Alexander Russo

Alexander Russo is a freelance education writer who has created several long-running blogs such as the national news site This Week In Education, District 299 (about Chicago schools), and LA School Report. He can be reached on Twitter at @alexanderrusso, on Facebook, or directly at alexanderrusso@gmail.com.