Harvard Educational Review
  1. Fall 2011 Issue »

    The Power of Context

    State-Level Policies and Politics and the Educational Performance of the Children of Immigrants in the United States

    Alexandra Filindra, David Blanding, and Cynthia Garcia Coll
    HER Fall 2011 SmChildren of immigrant backgrounds—children who are immigrants themselves or were born to immigrant parents—are the largest segment of growth in the U.S. school population. In this exploratory interdisciplinary analysis, Filindra, Blanding, and Garcia Coll ask whether the context of policy and political receptivity, even when they are not directed at school reform or at immigrants, nonetheless affects the high school completion of children of immigrant backgrounds. The novelty of this work is its theoretical integration of insights from multiple disciplines and its emphasis on the larger context in analyzing the educational outcomes for children of immigrants. The authors’ findings suggest that policy matters and that it matters in different ways. Specifically, they find a strong positive association between the immigrant inclusion in state welfare programs and high school graduation rates for the children of immigrants. At the same time, the study suggests that multiculturalism policies, targeting racial and ethnic minorities rather than immigrants specifically, may have the opposite effect. Finally, the authors suggest that politics also matters, as seen in the gap in graduation rates between the children of immigrants and the children of U.S.-born parents, which is narrower in Democrat-dominated states than it is in Republican-controlled states.

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    Alexandra Filindra is an assistant professor of political science at William Paterson University and a research associate at the Center for the Study of Human Development at Brown University. In the past, she held the position of postdoctoral fellow at the Taubman Center for Public Policy and American Institutions at Brown University. Her dissertation, completed at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, was on federalism and state-level immigration policies in the United States. Filindra’s main interest focuses on the drivers of state-level immigration policies in social welfare, health care, and access to rights. She is the coauthor (with Melinda Kovacs) of a study on state legislative resolutions relating to immigrants and immigration (2011). She has also coauthored an essay (with Jane Junn) on immigration policy and race for an edited volume on immigration policy issues (Oxford University Press, forthcoming). Another of her essays on immigration and birthright citizenship is included in Debates on Immigration: Political and Legal Issues, edited by Daniel Tichenor and Judith Gans (Sage, forthcoming).

    David Blanding is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Political Science at Brown University. His interests lie at the intersection of scholarship on race, the presidency, public opinion, and public policy. He has presented his research at the annual meetings of the American Political Science Association, the Midwest Political Science Association, the Southern Political Science Association, and the Northeastern Political Science Association.

    Cynthia Garcia Coll is the Charles Pitt Robinson and John Palmer Barstow Professor of Education, Psychology, and Pediatrics at Brown University. Her latest book, Immigrant Stories (Oxford University Press, 2009), documents the academic and cultural trajectories of children of immigrants (six to twelve years of age) in two school systems in Rhode Island. She has published articles on the parental involvement and ethnic identity of children in immigrant families. More recently, her research has pushed the field for a better understanding of the immigrant paradox. Her forthcoming edited book, The Immigrant Paradox in Children and Adolescents: Is Becoming American a Developmental Risk? (APA, 2011), will summarize the state of our knowledge in this area. For her work on fostering a better understanding of contextual and cultural influences on child development, she has received awards from the Society for Research in Child Development (2009), Society for Research in Adolescence (2010), and the Society for Pediatric Research (2011).
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    Fall 2011 Issue


    Immigration, Youth, and Education
    Editors’ Introduction
    Soojin S. Oh and North Cooc
    The Power of Context
    State-Level Policies and Politics and the Educational Performance of the Children of Immigrants in the United States
    Alexandra Filindra, David Blanding, and Cynthia Garcia Coll
    Growing Up in the Shadows
    The Developmental Implications of Unauthorized Status
    Carola Suárez-Orozco, Hirokazu Yoshikawa, Robert T. Teranishi, and Marcelo M. Suárez-Orozco
    “Because We Feel the Pressure and We Also Feel the Support”
    Examining the Educational Success of Undocumented Immigrant Latina/o Students
    Things I’ll Never Say
    Stories of Growing Up Undocumented in the United States
    Undocumented to Hyperdocumented
    A Jornada of Protection, Papers, and PhD Status
    Whose Deficit Is This Anyhow?
    Exploring Counter-Stories of Somali Bantu Refugees’ Experiences in “Doing School”
    Toward a Pedagogy of Acompañamiento
    Mexican Migrant Youth Writing from the Underside of Modernity
    Elementary Forms of Cosmopolitanism
    Blood, Birth, and Bodies in Immigrant New York City
    Maria Kromidas

    Book Notes

    Immigrants Raising Citizens
    Hirokazu Yoshikawa

    Balancing Acts
    Natasha K. Warikoo

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