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A closer look: Immigration and education

Kristen B. Morales

February 17, 2017

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In a new book, "U.S. Latinization: Education and the New Latino South," Pedro R. Portes and Spencer Salas have curated essays from across the country that demonstrate how policymakers and educators should treat immigrant education and social progress—two ideas that have become intertwined in our country. Portes is the Goizueta Foundation Distinguished Chair in Latin Teacher Education at the UGA College of Education, where he also directs the Center for Latino Achievement and Success in Education. His co-editor, Salas, is associate professor of middle, secondary and K-12 education at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

Question: Why should we pay attention to changes in education as a result of immigration? Portes: At a time of extreme division in the United States that affects all sectors of the population, the quality of education is of utmost importance—not only to those living in poverty, but perhaps more important for future leaders and voters alike. In this book, we offer new insights that address the overall cultural development of the United States as a result of increased Latino and Asian immigration in the past two decades.

Q: How does immigration connect social progress with education? P: The success of a democratic culture today hinges on social, educational and economic fairness within an educational system that maximizes the talents of children as future global citizens. In particular, the Latino population's histories are complex, poorly understood and increasingly stereotyped, as with other immigrant groups before them—and especially following such a divisive national election.

Q: How do these issues relate to educational policy? P: The chapters in this book speak to the pivotal role of education policies and practices that affect both immigrants and non-immigrants—especially when there is a dominant group that might see diversity as a threat or understand it as an asset. Remaining less educated about world history, the benefits of dual language education and the role of ethical practices in preventing violence threatens the national interest and the integrity of our institutions.