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California's Immigrant Children: Theory, Research, and Implications for Educational Policy


No state has felt the impact of the new immigration more than California, and no institution more than its schools. Fully a third of the nation's 20 million immigrants are concentrated in California, and over a third of the state's schoolchildren speak a language other than English at home. Largely from Asia and Latin America, these new Californians are extraordinarily diverse in their social, economic, and cultural origins. Their children are growing up in a context of prolonged recession and fiscal woes which have fueled public discontent over the presence of immigrants in the state as evidenced by the passage of Proposition 187 in November 1994. Yet for all the political controversy surrounding public funding of education for immigrant children—and even though these children will become a crucial component of the larger economy and society in years to come—very little is known about their educational progress and adaptation patterns to date. The original works assembled in this volume address these complex issues systematically, as well as their implications for educational policy. The expert contributors sociologists, political scientists, anthropologists, psychologists, and educational policy analysts bring to the topic a wide range of theoretical perspectives and methodological approaches. Several chapters report new comparative studies on patterns of acculturation and achievement among both U.S.-born and immigrant students. Others focus critically on educational policy and politics, particularly school restructuring reforms and efforts by public school systems to meet the needs of immigrant children.

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