Newcomers Left Behind

Immigrant Parents Lack Equal Access to New York City's Schools 

In a city of immigrants, language and cultural barriers inevitably prevent some people from participating fully in civic life. Yet when it comes to education, parent involvement is widely recognized as a fundamental component of a child's success. Acknowledging this, public school policymakers have established guidelines intended to overcome the problems that differences in language and culture pose for New York's immigrant parents so that they may participate more actively in their children's educational life. This report discusses findings from a survey of, and interviews with, immigrants from around New York City conducted between the summer of 2002 and the spring of 2003. We found that the policies and procedures meant to address the special needs of immigrant students—and particularly English Language Learners—and their parents are in many cases either unknown to or not being carried out by school staff.