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California's Immigrant Children: Theory, Research, and Implications for Educational Policy

Rubén G. Rumbaut & Wayne A. Cornelius, editors
ISBN: 978-1-87836-717-4
1995/272 pages
U.S.-Mexico Contemporary Perspectives Series
Distributed for the Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies at the University of California, San Diego

"The information presented in this book provokes educators, researchers, and policymakers to take a hard look at how we are educating immigrant children. . . . The reader is able not only to understand how a multitude of issues relate to the education of immigrant students, but also to comprehend how varied the issues are among different immigrant student populations. The findings emphasize the need to disentangle immigrant groups and to pay closer attention to each of their particularities."—Mitra Shavarini, Harvard Educational Review


No state has felt the impact of the new immigration more than California, and no institution more than its schools. Fully a third of the nation's 20 million immigrants are concentrated in California, and over a third of the state's schoolchildren speak a language other than English at home. Largely from Asia and Latin America, these new Californians are extraordinarily diverse in their social, economic, and cultural origins. Their children are growing up in a context of prolonged recession and fiscal woes which have fueled public discontent over the presence of immigrants in the state as evidenced by the passage of Proposition 187 in November 1994.

Yet for all the political controversy surrounding public funding of education for immigrant children—and even though these children will become a crucial component of the larger economy and society in years to come—very little is known about their educational progress and adaptation patterns to date.

The original works assembled in this volume address these complex issues systematically, as well as their implications for educational policy. The expert contributors sociologists, political scientists, anthropologists, psychologists, and educational policy analysts bring to the topic a wide range of theoretical perspectives and methodological approaches.

Several chapters report new comparative studies on patterns of acculturation and achievement among both U.S.-born and immigrant students. Others focus critically on educational policy and politics, particularly school restructuring reforms and efforts by public school systems to meet the needs of immigrant children.

The book will be of great use to scholars of immigration, ethnicity, and education, and to professional educators, applied researchers, and school district and government agency heads.


Wayne A. Cornelius is director emeritus of the Center for Comparative Immigration Studies (CCIS), University of California, San Diego (UCSD).


  • Introduction and Overview—Wayne A. Cornelius.
  • The New Californians: Comparative Research Findings on the Educational Progress of Immigrant Children—Rubén G. Rumbaut.
  • Segmented Assimilation among New Immigrant Youth: A Conceptual Framework, Alejandro Portes Additive Acculturation as a Strategy for School Improvement—Margaret A. Gibson.
  • Korean and Russian Students in a Los Angeles High School: Exploring the Alternative Strategies of Two High-Achieving Groups—Mia Tuan.
  • The Psychological Dimension in Understanding Immigrant Students —Amado M. Padilla and David Durán.
  • The Cultural Patterning of Achievement Motivation: A Comparison of Mexican, Mexican Immigrant, Mexican American, and Non-Latino White American Students—Marcelo M. Suárez-Orozco and Carola E. Suárez-Orozco.
  • Testing the American Dream: Case Studies of At-Risk Southeast Asian Refugee Students in Secondary Schools—Kenji Ima.
  • School Restructuring and the Needs of Immigrant Students—Laurie Olsen.
  • Are Our Schools Really Failing?—Richard Rothstein.
  • Commentary—Politics, Education, and Immigrant Children in New York City —Karen Shaw.