ESSA, Low-Wage Migrants, and the Persistent Neoliberal Education Structure: A Critical Review [article]

Jennifer Serniuk
Exacerbated by the divisive rhetoric of the Trump administration, the current sociopolitical climate in the United States is predicated on sensational rhetoric and loaded discourse regarding many of the country's racial and ethnic minority groups (Quinn, Hopkins, & García Bedolla, 2017) . Most notably, immigrants have become the prime target for a growing right-wing, populist movement seeking to deport or ban them from remaining in and/or entering the U.S (Lemke, 2017). As a result, immigration
more » ... reform has become a central focus for conservative politicians seeking to implement discriminatory policies aimed at minimizing opportunities for low-wage migrants 1 (Nguyen & Kebede, 2017; Quinn, Hopkins, & García Bedolla, 2017) . Concerned with the potential implications for education from this growing political movement, we find it important to examine the sociopolitical position of low-wage migrants in the United States and explore its connections with current policies and reforms. Specifically, we: 1) identify relevant legislative, economic and educational policies that have structurally positioned low-wage migrants within society; 2) discuss the link between this position and its negative impact on the educational experiences for children from low-wage migrant families; and 3) explore the potential implications of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) within the context of history and the current sociopolitical climate. In addition, we conclude with policy recommendations that we think could help ameliorate the negative impact on low-wage migrant families and their children. To achieve these research aims, we used the following questions to guide our research: • How have past legislative, economic, and educational policies led to the social, political, and economic position of low-wage migrant families? • How do the social, political, and economic positions of low-wage migrant families shape their educational experiences? • How might ESSA influence these experiences? 1 Low-wage migrant is being used to include any refugee, asylees, labor migrant, low-wage immigrant or undocumented person, as it acknowledges their unique situations, but highlights similarities in experiences (i.e. work, education, discrimination etc.) once arrived in the United States. It is intended to exclude newcomers who immigrate with a higher socioeconomic status (i.e. professional migrants, diplomats, investors etc.). Through discriminatory policies and neoliberal practices, public institutions have historically marginalized low-wage migrants on the basis of race, ethnicity, class, and English-language ability. Under the Trump administration and Republican-led Congress, anti-immigrant practices and rhetoric have intensified. This paper explores the impact of current educational policies as they exist in a structure dominated by anti-immigrant ideology. In a critical review of scholarly literature, this paper examines the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) in the context of past legislation and the position of these groups within the structure of U.S. education. Our investigation acknowledges that the ESSA attempts to improve educational opportunities for low-wage migrants, but the policy's shift toward state and local control creates uncertainty for these students. Specifically, we conclude that policy implementation for migrant populations will remain ineffective without fundamental changes to the climate and organization of state and local systems.
doi:10.15781/t2m902n9f fatcat:hggl5ewwifayrm7kecvkkmp63u