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An Increasing Number U.S.-Born Students Are Enrolling in Mexican Schools

Mark Keierleber - The74
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October 26, 2017
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San Diego-born Wendy Ortíz and Karla Soto attend school in Tijuana (Peggy Peattie)

In the desert just south of San Diego, towering 18 to 30 feet in the air, are eight prototypes for the wall President Donald Trump has promised to build along the 2,000 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border. But as the administration tests designs for keeping undocumented Mexicans out of the U.S. and cracks down on those already here, a large number of Mexicans, and Americans of Mexican heritage, are headed in the other direction.

About half a million now attend classes south of the border, and educators on both sides are pushing for greater collaboration to help meet those students’ unique needs — among them, gaining language skills, adjusting to different education levels, and adapting to new school cultures and structures.

American schools have long focused on accommodating English language learners, said Patricia Gándara, a professor at the University of California, Los Angeles and director of education at the University of California-Mexico Initiative. Schools in Mexico, however, haven’t historically had a large population of Spanish language learners.

Now, though, they are finding they need to provide those accommodations, even for students who grew up speaking Spanish at home. “If you come from a family in which everybody speaks Spanish, you’re going to speak Spanish, but that doesn’t mean you’re going to read it or write it or know anything about the literature or the history,” she said.

... The majority are concentrated in northern Mexican states close to the border, said Bryant Jensen, an assistant professor at Brigham Young University who has spent more than a decade researching the relationship between schools in Mexico and the U.S.

Among roughly 600,000 K-9 students enrolled in Baja California’s public schools are 50,000 U.S.-born children, said Yara Amparo López, coordinator of the Baja California Education Department’s immersion program, which helps foreign-born students adjust to Mexican schools.

... The first of a series of upcoming reports Jensen and university students are preparing from the visit highlights the challenges U.S.-born children face in fitting in at their Mexican schools. Read the rest at The74

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