Public schools have historically been key institutions in our nation of immigrants. They provide a space for young people, regardless of their economic or ethnic background, to acclimate themselves to U.S. norms, share their cultures with their peers and learn to speak, read and write in English.
Today traditional public schools are suffering cuts and closures at the hands of federal and state lawmakers — sometimes even at the hands of mayors. Schools committed to bilingual and English language learner (ELL) education, which serve kids who are learning English in addition to their native language, are as vulnerable as the rest.
And the charter schools sprouting in U.S. cities, where many first-generation immigrants live, aren’t always able or willing to provide the same service.