Latino Immigrant Youth and Interrupted Schooling

In February we published Marguerite Lukes’ new book Latino Immigrant Youth and Interrupted Schooling. In this post, Marguerite gives us a bit of background to the book.

Each year countless immigrant youth migrate to the US and Europe with dreams of a better tomorrow. International news organizations report regularly on migrants’ ordeals (see here  and here) but few focus on what happens once they settle in their host country. Many, in the midst of their adolescent years, have abandoned their schooling and arrive as unaccompanied minors, facing multiple challenges in education and the labor market, with adolescent needs but shouldering adult responsibilities.

Latino Immigrant Youth and Interrupted SchoolingMigrant youth are the subject of my new book Latino Immigrant Youth and Interrupted Schooling. The book explores the voices, perspectives and life experiences of a growing group of immigrant young adults at a time when both Europe and the US struggle to design effective immigration policies to integrate and educate them. The book emerged from my personal experiences teaching and designing programs for these youth. I found that prior research tended to ‘explain away’ the issue of immigrant youth’s interrupted schooling, equating it with disinterest in education. In the classroom, I met young migrants thirsty for information about college and job training, and who often had been encouraged to leave school or were frustrated because their need to work and support families with remittances conflicted with school’s schedules. Far from being disinterested in school, the young people whom I met were eager to learn English, enter college, and become professionals, many with aspirations to become doctors, lawyers, teachers and social workers and sought opportunities to advance. Yet institutional barriers stood between them and realizing their dreams; they had few mentors or peers who could help them access feasible educational options.

The book fills a glaring gap in scholarship on immigrant young adults who are categorized as dropouts (those who have left secondary school) by presenting new data on a significant but overlooked population. In the book, I present recommendations for supporting and serving these youth. Persistent deficit views that suggest that some groups ‘value’ education more than others overlook sociopolitical realities and global economic factors the lead to school interruption prior to migration and institutional barriers that keep students out of school once they arrive in the host country. The book seeks to enrich the conversation by putting faces to young people who are often presented merely as statistics. The book also explores ways in which the US political economy impacts the lives, educational pathways and work options of these young adults, and their integration into the cultural, social and economic mainstream of the US.

Historical and contextual data are used to provide the reader with an understanding of the socio-political forces at work that lead young people to leave school in their countries of origin.

By using data collected in interviews of 150 students who arrived in the US between the ages of 15 and 24, I present their experiences as they navigate the complex and confusing education landscape after arriving in the US. Existing policies often provide disincentives for schools to serve youth who are emergent bilinguals and older than the average secondary student, and sometimes with emergent basic academic skills.

Central to this new volume is an examination of the role of language, English proficiency, literacy and academic skills play in access to educational options. It presents research on multilingual and translanguaging approaches to academic English development and existing policies and practices for students with interrupted formal education. The book concludes with a discussion of existing public policies, opportunities and institutional constraints that impact the young adults discussed here. Existing models that show promise are presented, alongside challenges and persisting questions and directions for the future. The book shares voices and compelling stories of young immigrant adults who were eager to share their experiences. Time and again they reminded me that this type of scholarship is important because, as one youth explained, “they don’t really see us.”

If you would like more information about this book, please see our website.

Celebrating 100 books in the Bilingual Education and Bilingualism series

Latino Immigrant Youth and Interrupted SchoolingThe publication this month of Marguerite Lukes’ book Latino Immigrant Youth and Interrupted Schooling is the 100th book in the Bilingual Education and Bilingualism series. Here, the series editors Nancy H. Hornberger, Colin Baker and Wayne E. Wright tell the story of the beginning, development and future of the series which has also reached its 21st anniversary.

To begin at the very beginning…
The series started with a phone call from Mike Grover (of Multilingual Matters) to Colin Baker just before Christmas in 1993. He simply asked Colin to consider being the editor of a series of books on bilingualism and particularly bilingual education. It was a lovely Christmas present. On 4 January 1994, Colin gratefully replied with an acceptance letter on the condition that the series “encompasses the variety of aspects of bilingual education.”

Mike Grover
Mike Grover

Colin’s letter finished with a ‘cricket’ analogy. The final sentence was a question. “Here’s to a good innings. You open the batting. I’ll face the fast balls and googlies. A century to come?” Twenty-one years later, an answer has been reached. By March 2015, a century of books has been published. An enormous amount of credit goes to the recently departed and much-loved Mike Grover for having the original vision for such a series. He would be delighted that his risk-taking and dream led to a century of books. Requiescat in pace.

VermaBack to the beginning. The first book in the series was published on 16 June 1995 entitled Working with Bilingual Children and edited by Verma, Corrigan and Firth. Other books were being written and processed in 1994 and 1995, and several became bestsellers such as Carrasquillo & Rodriguez’s Language Minority Students in the Mainstream Classroom that ran to a second edition in 2002.

Carrasquillo 2nd edThe beginning was soon over. In the first six months of 1995, a surprising avalanche of new proposals was received for publication in this series. Many came from the United States. Mike and Colin realised that a US co-editor of the series would be beneficial, if not essential, for many reasons.

A letter from Colin dated 28 June 1995 to Nancy Hornberger at the University of Pennsylvania explains it all. Here are some extracts: “As you know, Multilingual Matters has established itself as a major, if not the major publisher of books on bilingualism, multilingualism, bilingual education and many associated topics… The Bilingual Education and Bilingualism book series has already attracted a wide variety of proposals, and has a number of published, almost published and ‘in the pipeline’ manuscripts. Mike Grover is very optimistic about the future of this series, with ‘considerable growth’ expected.

Since Mike and I were in the US last March, I have been increasingly convinced that the Bilingual Education and Bilingualism book series should work by a partnership of two series editors… It would also be invaluable for someone in the US to parallel my European, quantitative, education and psychology background. Mike and I have discussed the idea of two series editors, and agree who is our number one choice. You!”

The partnership began, and the series went from strength to strength. The partnership became a close friendship, a joyful shared commitment to serve in a highly supportive manner new authors and young academics, as well as to encourage seasoned authors to publish with Multilingual Matters.

Nancy, Wayne and Colin
Nancy, Wayne and Colin

Nancy and Colin defined the aims and mission of the series as follows and this remains today:

Bilingual Education and Bilingualism is an international, multidisciplinary series publishing research on the philosophy, politics, policy, provision and practice of language planning, global English, indigenous and minority language education, multilingualism, multiculturalism, biliteracy, bilingualism and bilingual education. The series aims to mirror current debates and discussions. New proposals for single-authored, multiple-authored, or edited books in the series are warmly welcomed, in any of the following categories or others authors may propose: overview or introductory texts; course readers or general reference texts; focus books on particular multilingual education program types; school-based case studies; national case studies; collected cases with a clear programmatic or conceptual theme; and professional education manuals. 

The books from 1995 to the present have been spread across:

  • many countries and areas of the world (e.g. US, Australia, South America, UK, Israel, South Africa, Canada, the Basque Country, China, Japan, Israel);
  • many topics (e.g. language policy, language planning, language and power, sociopolitics, language and identity, language revitalization, language rights, languages in higher education, biliteracy, multilingualism and creativity, language disabilities, the bilingual mental lexicon, World Englishes, third language acquisition, language and aging, language and youth culture, trilingualism);
  • many authors (currently 125) and including the ‘greats’ as well as new emerging scholars.

For the future, there is another beginning… After a century of books, Colin is retiring as series editor, and is in the process of handing over the reins to Wayne E. Wright, at Purdue University, as new series co-editor. Wayne enthusiastically responded to the invitation from Tommi Grover, “I am honored to be invited to work with both Nancy and Colin, and happily accept!” The editors look forward to starting to shape the next 100 books.

All those interested in writing a book and becoming part of the next century of publications in the series, please contact Kim Eggleton and visit: http://www.multilingual-matters.com/info_for_authors.asp. We would love you to be part of the next 100 books.