Saturday, January 17, 2009

Immigration and schools

I've been laying low lately, maybe too low. Anyway, a regular reader of this blog passed along this piece from the NYT, which I had somehow missed. It covers how immigrant groups are seeing charter schools are a helpful way of negotiating their way and their children's way into American culture. Pretty different from the 19th c. immigrant world in some ways, but closely parallel in others.


Becca6296 said...

Have people forgotten the history of the tenements in the late 1800's in NYC? The immigrant children were only provided for if the Children's Aid Society stepped in. There was child labor in Dickensian orphanages, the Day Nurseries,and the still very much alive Fresh Air Fund would provide respite in the country during unbearable summer heat and the stench of human waste.
The controversial How the Other Half Lives by Jacob Riis is very interesting the St Martin's Press edition Editor Leviatin 1996 The Bedford Series in History and Culture. Today having lived both in NY born Italian Irish in Brooklyn and raised in New Hampshire as well I see charities today , 130 years later, who's volunteers take responsibility for educating our immigrants. They depend on volunteers from the Literacy Project and Lutheran social services to obtain driver's licenses and pass the citizien's exams. Your grasp of the language is only as ghood as your educator. In the 1800's the kids went to shine shoes or sew and launder clothes and hang them in the steets for pennies to feed their sometimes over 10 siblings with. Today, children are subjected to No Child Left Behind Or ( no child left a dime) .... If we do not have enough teacher aids for special education and funding what priority will placed on immigrant students?
Today I think we have similar problems with the obvious improvements of industrialization and technology, but not with our command of the language. Who determines what a reading level is if it is acceptable that our soon to be former President can masacare it all while being married to a teacher and librarian?

Mr. Verb said...

I'm not sure the post suggests anything about forgetting the history of 19th c. tenements, but you've outlined a number of historical differences and some parallels.

Of course (public and even private) schools in some parts of the country played a very positive role for immigrants in the 19th century.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, the comparison is worth thinking about in many ways. Charter schools, despite coming during NCLB, do represent a move away from centralization in education. And the role of volunteer organizations was huge back in the 19th, and continues today.

In so many ways, Bush was pushing us backwards toward the 19th c. Let's hope a better day is dawning!