Never could this saying be truer than to a migrant student. While most students are excited about their new clothes, new backpacks and seeing old and new friends, the majority of migrant students are still laboring in the hot sun from wee hours of the morning until sun down. They miss out on all the fun to be had at the beginning of the school year – not to mention missing out on all of the instruction. In many instances a migrant student does not enroll in school until mid-October; for others, they do not start the school year until much later, like November or December. The life of a migrant family is to pursue seasonal harvests. If the harvest is good, they don’t waiver; they keep on working until there is nothing left to harvest. At the end of the season, they journey back to their home town, only to find out many of the classes the students needed are full to capacity and students have to resort to what is left over.
The longest U.S. stream of migrant farmworkers starts in South Texas, the permanent place of residence for thousands, and leads up through Canada. A recent article in South Texas’ largest newspaper The Monitor highlighted a group of migrant students and their success. Four students who migrate with the seasons and work 10-plus-hour shifts in the fields were recognized as exemplary migrant students in the Pharr-San Juan-Alamo Independent School District (Texas). Exemplary is right. Sadly, these four students are the exception to the rule. Success like this is not the norm for the majority of migrant students. Farmworker youth, especially migrant students, have high school dropout rates of up to 65%. As can be seen in the article, Migrant Education Programs in their high schools have been key in bridging the gap for the average migrant student that may not have a built in support system.
If migrant farmworker students attend your local schools, ensure the educational support exists for them and let the farmworker families know about them. For those schools that have no programs in place, talk to your school administrations so those funds can be requested and these students can get the support they need to complete high school.
All children deserve an education, including migrant farmworker youth. Investing in our children’s well-being will not only ensure a better future for the children, but also for our country.
With an education, migrant students can break the generational cycle of poverty and sing a happier tune.