An LA School That is Meeting the Needs of Its Central American Students

Many Latino families find it a challenge to ensure their children receive a high quality education, even when their children are born in this country and have the support of family members.

For the estimated 100,000 Central American children who have immigrated to the U.S. without their parents in the past 5 years, the obstacles can be even greater. Going to school is often times coupled long hours of work, and in many cases international borders separate children from their families.

A story by the Los Angeles Times details the inspirational story of Gaspar Marcos, a Belmont High student who migrated from Guatemala to the U.S. alone at the age of 13.  

“If you don’t have education, nobody will respect you,” Marcos said. “If you don’t educate yourself, you don’t have employment. I want to be a good person and have an education … have a good, stable job. I want to have a home, the sort of home I never had.”

The story also explains the steps Belmont Principal Kristen McGregor takes to ensure that students like Marcos have the opportunity to learn.  At Belmont High, “nearly 1 in 4 of the school’s estimated 1,000 students came from Central America — many of them as unaccompanied minors”. Principal McGregor is adapting to the changing student demographic:

“Our students, a lot of them have to work. A lot of them have to send money home or pay for rent,” she said. “This is going to take a rethinking of education in general. Sure, they get into school, but what’s next? How do we support them?”

If policy makers are serious about improving education for Latino students, schools need to have the resources to holistically address the needs of all students, particularly those that are most disadvantaged.

Read the LA Times story here

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Brenda Benitez

Brenda Benitez

Brenda Benitez is the daughter of Mexican immigrants and grew up in Chicago, IL with her 4 brothers and sisters. She recently graduated from Pomona College in Claremont, CA, where she studied Public Policy with a concentration in Psychology. She is passionate about education and immigration reform. Thanks to scholarships for both high school and college, Brenda had the opportunity to attend high performing private schools, and her interest in education is born of the realization that too few low-income students have access to this type of education. Furthermore, her own family’s struggle with the immigration system inspired her to be active in the immigration reform movement since a young age. Brenda is currently an intern at Education Post.

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