Immigrant Parents Face “Distinctive Challenge” in Helping Their Children with Homework

An article in today’s New York Times (subscription required) highlights a big problem with homework when parents aren’t equipped to help.

Parental involvement is a buzzword in education, a recommended cure for high dropout rates, poor test scores and almost everything else that ails schoolchildren. But for immigrant parents, helping their children absorb lessons in an inscrutable language in a strange country has always been a distinctive challenge.

Hispanic children now make up 18.6 percent of the nation’s public and private school children, and many of those are immigrants or children of immigrants. Their dropout rates and test scores trouble policy makers, so educators have been focusing on what parents can do to help their children thrive in school and what obstacles they face, among other approaches.

“It’s a huge issue,” said Dr. Pedro A. Noguera, director of the Metropolitan Center for Urban Education at New York University. “Many Latino parents are working a lot, so their ability to get involved is limited. There’s the language barrier. In many Latin American countries there’s a tendency to defer to authorities in school, an assumption that educators know what they’re doing.â€?

Long-established middle-class American parents, he said, take for granted that they are “critical consumers, making sure their kids are getting the right teachers and the right classes.� But, he said, “many immigrants parents don’t understand that this is a role they need to play.� For those who immigrated without proper papers, the problem is “compounded by legal status; any time you engage public officials there’s anxiety that you can be discovered.�

Read the entire article here.

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