USF panel discusses shortfalls of 'migrant' education

10/21/11 Jean Henry Telcy
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Just over 20 people gathered in the Grace Allen Room at the University of South Florida Library for the panel organized by the Institute for the Study of Latin America and the Caribbean in partnership with the Center for Migrant Education. It was moderated by Ann Cranston-Gingras, director of the Center for Migrant Education.

“[Education] becomes an issue because there are no ... regulations at the university level for [migrant] students to have access to higher education,” said Cranston-Gingras.

A migrant worker is someone who travels within a country to pursue seasonal work—— in this case, farm work. Sometimes migratory children can be penalized by disparities among states in curriculum, graduation requirements or academic content. But Cranston-Gingras said programs such as the Migrant Education Program and the High School Equivalency Program can help address these issues.

Georgina Rivera-Singletary is the Supervisor of the Migrant Education Program for the Hillsborough School District. She shared her past as a migrant worker and the struggles she faced trying to continue her education. She said this story is not unique among migrant families.

Sergio Andrade is a former child migrant worker who, like many, had to drop out of high school to help his parents with farm work.

“I would have had to wait until I was 21 to graduate high school, so I just decided to drop out,” said Andrade.

Since completing the university’s High School Equivalency Program, Andrade plans to study engineering at USF in the fall.

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Proper identification???

Identifying and recruiting eligible migrant children is a cornerstone of the Migrant Education Program (MEP). Identification means determining the presence and location of migratory children within a State. Recruitment means describing the benefits of the MEP to the child and his or her family and obtaining the necessary information to document the child's eligibility and enroll the child in the program. Identification and recruitment of migrant children are critical because: •The children who are most in need of program services are often those who are the most difficult to find. •Many migrant children would not fully benefit from school, and in some cases, would not attend school at all, if the State educational agencies (SEAs) failed to identify and recruit them into the MEP. •Children cannot receive MEP services without a record of eligibility. This could be a great place to start with the proper identification of migrants...