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Learning a New Land

One child in five in America is the child of immigrants, and their numbers increase each year. Very few will return to the country they barely remember. Who are they, and what America do they know? Based on an extraordinary interdisciplinary study that followed 400 newly arrived children from the Caribbean, China, Central America, and Mexico for five years, this book provides a compelling account of the lives, dreams, and frustrations of these youngest immigrants. Richly told portraits of high and low achievers are packed with unexpected ironies. When they arrive, most children are full of optimism and a respect for education. But poor neighborhoods and dull - often dangerous - schools can corrode hopes. The vast majority learn English - but it is the English of video games and the neighborhood, not that of standardized tests. For some of these children, those heading off to college, America promises to be a land of dreams. These lucky ones have often benefited from caring mentors, supportive teachers, or savvy parents. For others, the first five years are marked by disappointments, frustrations, and disenchantment. How can we explain their varied academic journeys? The children of immigrants, here to stay, are the future - and how they adapt will determine the nature of America in the twenty-first century.
Product Details

Table of Contents

Introduction: The Long View on Immigrant Students 1. Academic Engagement and Performance 2. Networks of Relationships 3. Less-Than-Optimal Schools 4. The Challenge of Learning English 5. Portraits of Declining Achievers 6. Portraits of Low Achievers 7. Portraits of Improvers 8. Portraits of High Achievers Conclusion: Immigration Policy Dilemmas Notes References Acknowledgments Index Tables and Figures

Promotional Information

In the fierce national debate about immigration, too many ignore the millions of children trying to find their way in a society that wants their parents' work, does not want to give them rights, but expects them to meet intense academic demands in a language they don't command, in communities from which their families may be expelled. The Suarez-Orozcos' remarkable study of immigrant students on both coasts challenges us to think about the consequences and to help these children realize their potential. -- Gary Orfield, Co-Director, Civil Rights Project/Proyecto Derechos Civiles, University of California, Los Angeles This is a compelling report on a groundbreaking study of immigrant adaptation to America. The authors offer a comprehensive overview of the possibilities and challenges immigrant children face in public schools, and make a strong case for practical strategies and new policies to enable them to become successful students and citizens. This is a must-read for teachers, policymakers, and educators who are invested in the future of our nation's increasingly multicultural schools. -- Kathleen McCartney, Harvard Graduate School of Education

About the Author

Carola Suarez-Orozco is Professor of Applied Psychology and Co-Director of Immigration Studies at New York University. Marcelo M. Suarez-Orozco is Courtney Sale Ross University Professor of Globalization and Education and Co-Director of Immigration Studies at New York University. Irina Todorova is an international health psychology consultant in Boston.


[Learning a New Land] examines how the children of immigrants are doing in American schools. It's a discouraging picture, and should be a wake-up call to anyone who cares about education. -- Josh Green San Francisco Chronicle 20080302 This book offers the results of a five-year study that followed 400 children from China, Central America, the Caribbean, and Mexico, all newly arrived in the United States. These kids' struggles are so poignant. The statistics are amazing, too: One of every five children in America is the child of an immigrant, and one in five immigrant children has only one native English-speaking friend. -- Nell Casey Cookie 20081201

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