In a not so distant past, immigrants from Eastern hemisphere traveled long distances to reach the coasts of the United States. In hopes of a better life, they uprooted their lifestyles and planted themselves in the soil of freedom in the New World.
Now, those “uprooted immigrants” have grown tall and strong, and their seeds have fallen to the ground. These seeds are their second, third, fourth generation relatives, and they too have grown under the shade and protection our forefathers created for us. We are these rising seedlings and like our fathers before us, we too struggle to find answers to problems that are similar to theirs.
One of the problems that we face is how we should respond to an increasing rise in immigrant population. As children of immigrants, the answer should be easy, but sadly it is not. We are several different groups divided by language, social norms, and beliefs and we are posed to with proposition to live up to our nation’s name, and become one United States.
As Christian teachers, what should our response be to this issue?
On the public school side of our Education system, schools with newcomer programs are springing up more often than before. After school ESL programs and other organizations are reaching out to help the next generation, but funds in most urban areas where the need is most prevailent are low. For that reason, an immigrant child’s future is questionable in the hands of the inner-city schools that are trying so desperately to provide for them.
On the parochial side, however, there is hope. The University of Notre Dame has published a report on this exact situation. It highlights the need for a culturally accepting Catholic education for the present-day immigrant children. Statistics from the study state that immigrant children are several times more likely to graduate from high school if they go to Catholic schools. Similar numbers state that they are more likely to go to college than their Public school peers.
This study is merely the springboard for greater things to come. Sure, funding and language barriers will be an issue, but the report highlights methodology and framework for Catholic schools to overcome economic and academic obstacles. To do so, the Notre Dame task force focuses on flourishing schools systems that have experienced success in immigrant education such as the NativityMiguel Network (Lasallian and Jesuit), and the Cristo Rey Schools (Jesuit). With their efforts and all Christians nationwide, the future looks just as bright for our immigrant children as it was for our forefathers.
So what is our response? As Christian teachers, our response to the need of our immigrant brothers and sisters is simple: we must reflect the God-given light that our hardworking forefathers shined upon us and direct it towards the immigrants of today. With the right amount of light, they will build our Nation, our Catholic Schools, and the Church into the unity that both God and our forefathers have always desired. The Notre Dame report gives us the mirror we need to do just that.
Live Jesus in our hearts forever!
Link to the complete Notre Dame Report: http://catholicschooladvantage.nd.edu/assets/19176/nd_ltf_report_final_english_12.2.pdf
Link to the NativityMiguel Network page: http://www.nativitymiguelschools.org/
Link to the Cristo Rey page: http://www.cristoreynetwork.org/