CIANA Joins Allies in Calling for Educational Equity for Immigrant Youth

On May 11, CIANA joined the New York Immigration Coalition’s Education Collaborative at Tweed Courthouse, headquarters of the NYC Department of Education, to push for equitable educational resources for immigrant youth in New York City.

As part of the Collaborative, we called for a total of $6.1 million to be allotted towards immigrant education- $4 million to expand the NYIC’s L.I.F.E. Project, which allows immigrant families to enroll their three- and four-year-olds in preschool; and $2.1 million to enable high school-aged immigrants to access transfer schools in the outerboroughs.

At the rally, which was held just yards away from City Hall, speakers from the NYIC and other immigrant advocacy organizations explained in depth the impact that not having sufficient educational resources has had on immigrant communities. A few immigrant parents themselves talked about the personal impact this has had on their families.

NYC's population of school-age immigrants is growing, yet culturally competent resources for them are lacking. Many immigrant parents’ first exposure with the City’s educational system is complicated and unwelcoming, struggling to simply enroll their young children in pre-K and 3-K, thereby missing out on early childhood education that is crucial to their long-term growth.

Older students are likewise impacted by the lack of equitable resources. While most immigrant youth live in Queens, Brooklyn, and the Bronx, many public schools there lack the resources necessary to serve students who have recently arrived to the U.S. Most transfer high schools that do provide these services- ranging from English language support, college guidance, and social services- are located in Manhattan.

Education Programs Director Sophie Riina (far left) spoke with the New York Immigration Coalition about the need for accessible transfer schools for high school-age immigrants.

“Additional support for newly arrived older immigrant youth is desperately needed. Dropout rates are high and enrollment rates are low for this group because there is a lack of support in the current school system,” Sophie Riina, CIANA’s Director of Education Programs, told the NYIC.

“These students must be provided with better access to transfer schools, with teachers who are culturally sensitive and have expertise in helping older newcomer youth get the language support that they need.

"Most of these students reside in the outer boroughs of NYC, yet nearly all the transfer schools that are set up to help them are in Manhattan. NYC can and should do better. We must establish more transfer schools in the outer boroughs to help the newly arrived immigrant youth succeed.”

Lack of access, geographic and otherwise, to quality education lessens the likelihood of achieving financial stability and overall success in the future. Given the increasing population of immigrant youth in New York, it is imperative that the City Council set aside funding for these communities in the coming year’s budget.