As teachers and school professionals, we know you are a trusted guide for your students, and in particular, some of your more recently immigrated students may share questions and concerns with you that you may feel like you need more information to address. These concerns may require extra support perhaps requiring students to seek mental health counseling and legal assistance.
The U.S. Department of Education recently published a resource guide for educators to support undocumented youth with a focus on secondary student access to higher education. It is estimated that about 65,000 undocumented students graduate high school each year, but only about 54 percent of all undocumented young people have a high school diploma, compared to 82 percent of those born in the U.S. Included in this guide are: tips for school personnel to welcome immigrant students and their families into the classroom; information on deferred action for childhood arrivals (DACA); (which offers some young people a temporary reprieve from deportation and opens access to some jobs and scholarships); successful school models that address specific immigrant student needs; and information on scholarships available for undocumented students.
One thing to remember is that all students, regardless of immigration status, are guaranteed by law a right to a free public education under the 1982 U.S. Supreme Court decision Plyer v. Doe. The U.S. Department of Education issued a fact sheet for schools on educational services for immigrant students and those recently arrived in the U.S., and together with the Department of Justice, published a joint guidance letter , fact sheet and Questions and Answers reminding school districts of their federal obligation to educate all students residing in their respective district and how to enroll them. A student’s immigration status isn’t something that teachers can or should inquire about and school staff are prohibited by federal law from taking action that may intimidate or “chill” immigrant students from attending school.
We will continue to support your work to teach about immigration critically and thoughtfully with all students with our free lesson plans and resources.
Please help us to disseminate this vital information by forwarding this email and tell your colleagues about us.
- Navigating College Applications for Undocumented Students - a brief guide on our blog to assist school professionals in supporting undocumented students when applying to college with links to trusted resources.
- Public Education for All? Lessons From Plyer v. Doe – a high school lesson plan where students explore personal beliefs about immigration and education, and then do a close reading of an article about the landmark Plyer v. Doe Supreme Court decision.