Thoughts from the Chair
It is my pleasure to represent IMEC as Chair for the next 2 years. Migrant Education has long been a passion for me since I was a teacher in a migrant summer school and had the opportunity to work with the students and meet their families. My hope for the time I have as chair is to increase the visibility and sustainability of the many successes of the migrant program through the work of IMEC.
In 1966 Congress amended the ESEA to create the Migrant Education Program to address the special needs of mobile farm worker children. The original ESEA did not have Title I Part C. After the passage of ESEA in 1965 there had been discussion that migrant students due to their unique needs, i.e. mobility, needed special attention. Since its inception, migrant education has been a source of support to increase educational outcomes for these students.
Migrant Education has changed over the last 50 years. What are those changes and how do we continue to provide quality services? How do we continue and renew our efforts to make migrant education relevant to the needs of todays’ migrant students.
Many of these changes are best discovered through listening to the voices of our students. Justin is a migrant Out of School Youth (OSY) living in western Nebraska. Justin had been in several schools and had dropped out. He was identified by Rosie, one of the Nebraska statewide ID&R specialists and migrant services provider. He was riding his bike or walking two miles one-way each day to work long hours in a feedlot. Rosie made the case to Justin that the obstacles he was already facing and overcoming proved to her that he was capable of doing anything he set his mind to do, including completing his GED. She convinced him that a GED was important to his future. He lived a distance from the nearest GED Center. Rosie picked him up whenever he needed to be at the GED center. Sometimes she needed to put on her tough mom hat, telling him that she was counting on him being there, and that she WOULD be there to pick him up at the stated time. Justin used the PASS GED packet and galaxy tab provided by the MEP to prepare for his GED. He passed the tests and received his GED. He then moved to larger community in western Nebraska. Today he is a partner in a home renovation business and owns his own home. All in 9 months!
What can we learn from Justin’s story that informs us of the changing face of migrant education? Some observations about the Nebraska program:
- Justin is an OSY. OSY has expanded existing PK-12 services
- He was identified by a statewide migrant specialist using an electronic Certificate of Eligibility (COE) process
- He received support from a migrant service provider
- Type of work different now; his work was temporary to include processing, feedlots, dairy
- Technology assisted materials to acquire GED skills
- More ethnic diversity-Justin is Caucasian
- Year round services
- Few OSY students were served
- Services were primarily within school district boundaries and recruiters used paper COEs
- Services more district-based. No statewide service coordinators.
- This area of the state was seasonal primarily sugar beet harvesting
- Materials primarily paper/pencil
- Primarily Hispanic
- Summer services only.
From the Justin story we can see many changes in migrant services are occurring. What is still the same from 50 years ago is the advocacy by staff for students. It is the heart of the program.
Migrant education is unique in that we can know our student successes and learn from them. Each of us has stories of students who have been successful in spite of dramatic challenges. In fact, at the recent IMEC Meeting, many migrant student success stories were heard from the New York students attending Close Up.
After many thoughtful discussions by the Council about the changing face of migrant education, some questions emerged. What are the trends in agri-business worker employment? What are the changing patterns in mobility? What are the needs of this changing population? How do these needs shape Migrant Education services?
To proactively respond to these questions, the timing seemed right for a national conversation about migrant education. The Council is pleased to sponsor A National Symposium on “Changing Demographics and Mobility: New Opportunities in Migrant Education.” The symposium purpose is to proactively support a national conversation on migrant education’s past, present and future with a focus on the changing demographics, poverty & mobility.
We hope your voice will be heard at the Symposium. The Symposium is an opportunity for the migrant education community to come together to learn how our advocacy for these students can be strengthened. The symposium will feature National expertise describing trends and opportunities in migrant education. Facilitated discussion groups will identify policy issues and recommendations. A proceedings document describing symposium findings will be issued.
More information on the Symposium can be found on the IMEC website under EVENTS CALENDAR. Please consider having your state migrant program represented!