By Jeff Manuel, PhD candidate in History at the University of Minnesota. IHRC Affiliated Faculty
As Donna Gabaccia recently pointed out on this site, much of the concern over immigrant education in the U.S. is aimed at teenage high school and college students (e.g. the Dream Act) and ignores the many thousands of younger immigrant children attending mandatory k-12 education. How and what should these younger students be taught? Teachers of younger children—including young immigrants and the children of immigrants—face daunting challenges as they navigate both the educational and social needs of these children and mandatory public education’s historical imperative to Americanize immigrants. Yet in spite of these challenges the elementary classroom is also fertile terrain, where instructors are crafting innovative approaches to teaching young people about their world, no matter where they or their parents were born. In honor of Mother’s Day, I’d like to share one such story about, well, my mom.