Schools Teach Refugee, Migrant Kids Skills To Succeed In U.S.

Dec 3, 2019

A few schools in across the United States are teaching newly arrived refugee and immigrant children English skills, emotional support and classroom customs. Valencia Newcomer School in Phoenix is among the specialized facilities that give the students an extra year of attention before they transfer to mainstream schools.

Director Lynette Faulkner, middle, tries to slow down a student at Valencia Newcomer School between classes Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019, in Phoenix. Children from around the world are learning the English skills and American classroom customs they need to succeed at so-called newcomer schools. Valencia Newcomer School in Phoenix is among a handful of such public schools in the United States dedicated exclusively to helping some of the thousands of children who arrive in the country annually.
Credit (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Since fall of 2018, the public school has welcomed students from countries including Myanmar, Eritrea, Indonesia, Afghanistan and Cuba for an extra year of attention before transferring to mainstream schools. This year’s kindergarten through eighth-grade students come from 21 countries and speak 15 languages.

Arizona ranks eighth among states for refugee resettlement. The number plunged from 4,110 people in fiscal year 2016 to 998 in 2018, then rose slightly to 1,216 for the 12-month period that ended Sept. 30. About half are kids.

The work at the schools comes amid an effort by President Donald Trump to cap the number of refugees and allow states and cities to reject resettling them. Governor Doug Ducey hasn’t weighed in yet on the president’s executive order. At least five states have signaled they will accept refugees, and no governor has said they plan to keep them out. Several agencies sued last month seeking to halt the order.