Immigrant Children Among Highest Achievers
Two Brown University professors could be dispelling thoughts that children of immigrants are more likely to fail academically and commit crimes due to cultural, economic, and language barriers.
Professors Evelyn Hu-DeHart and Cynthia Garcia Coll say that studies are showing that first-generation immigrant children have lower rates of juvenile delinquency than children whose families have been in the U.S. for two or three generations. Also, first-generation children are outscoring them in standardized tests and have more positive attitudes toward teachers and school in general. And while usually starting behind U.S.-born students, the first generation immigrant children catch up quickly.
Hu-DeHart and Garcia Coll have dubbed the finding the ‘immigrant paradox’.
‘In a time where immigrants are seen as detriments to our society and not making contributions, what this research is telling us is that the first generations come in with amazing energy and amazing capabilities of surmounting lack of education in parents, poverty and language differences,’ said Garcia Coll, Robinson and Barstow Professor of Education, Psychology and Pediatrics at Brown. ‘The tragedy is that as some kids acculturate and become American, they start doing worse.’
Hu-DeHart and Garcia Coll believe the ‘paradox’ to have come from commonly assumed roles played by immigrant families and communities which emphasize education. They are presenting the research in a briefing booklet for policymakers and educators called ‘The Immigrant Paradox in Children’s Education & Behavior: Evidence from New Research”.
‘Political leaders are concerned about the economic effects of immigrant children to their budgets and the social effects to their communities.’
‘The conventional view may be wrong, but it is strong and widely held. It is our responsibility and duty to these children who will be the future leaders of our country to provide them with an educational environment that fosters learning and to support them in their quest to overcome the challenges of poverty, foreignness, and social exclusion.’