MARCH 11, 2008
While cities across the nation pass ordinances to seek relief from the devastating toll of illegal immigration, the nation’s public school districts will continue suffering from the influx thanks to a federal law that says they must provide a free education to all children regardless of immigration status.
There are an estimated 1.5 million school-aged illegal immigrants in the United States and the government spends an estimated $12 billion annually to educate them. The biggest chunks are spent by California ($7.7 billion) and Texas ($3.9 billion), where the situation has become a public education crisis with no end in sight.
The Lone Star State’s public schools have seen a huge increase in illegal immigrant Hispanic students with dismal Mexican and Central American education histories that are contributing to an overall lowering of academic standards across the board.
Case in point: The Irving School District, located mostly in Dallas. It has suffered one of the nation’s largest increases—63%–of illegal immigrant students in the last year compared to a 33% increase in 1995. Irving’s superintendent says it’s tough to bring so many students with such poor schooling up to state and federal standards.
Mexican government statistics reveal that only 58% of Mexicans 15 and older have some elementary school education and working with them requires slowing down and teaching the very basics. Many of the kids that attend Irving District schools haven’t been in a classroom for years and educating them is an ongoing uphill battle that has depleted public resources in many Border State districts.
Besides spending nearly $6,000 a year to educate each student, the districts also spend more than $1.5 million annually to pay bilingual teachers extra because they are hard to find and have additional credentials. Illegal immigrants are well aware of the free education perks and admit they are a big incentive to enter the country illegally.
A family of illegal immigrants living in Irving says it has greatly benefited from the U.S. taxpayer-financed free education, which makes living in the country illegally worth the risk. The 35-year-old mother took free English classes offered by Irving schools so that parents can help their children with homework and her children speak English fluently thanks to their free topnotch U.S. education.
If the family gets deported, the illegal immigrant mother said, they could use their new language in the tourist industry in Mexico. Otherwise, they have no plans to return to Mexico.
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