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Prepared for

House, Education and Labor Committee

U.S. Congress

October 12, 1977

Board of Directors
Austin H. Armitstead
Jackson Heights, New York
Susan W. Butler
New York, New York
Boren Chertkov
Silver Spring, Maryland
Robert Coles
Cambridge, Massachusetts
Eleanor A. Eaton
Lincoln University, Pennsylvania
Karolyn R. Gould
New York, New York
Irving Louis Horowitz
New Brunswick, New Jersey
Juan Irizarry
Hartford, Connecticut
Al Martinez
Indianapolis, Indiana
Johnny E. Parham, Jr.
Athens, Georgia
Mike Perez
Seattle, Washington
Norman H. Perlstein
Stamford, Connecticut
Vito Perrone
Grand Forks, North Dakota
Ronald G. Petrie
Portland, Oregon
Julian Samora
Notre Dame, Indiana
Lewis Tamblyn
Washington, D.C.
Grace Trueman
Glenwood, New Jersey
Natalie Carrillo Warner
Denver, Colorado
E. Thelma Waters
Indiantown, Florida
Doxey W. Wilkerson
South Norwalk, Connecticut

Cassandra Stockburger, Executive Director
National Organization for Migrant Children, Inc.
310 East 42nd Street, New York, N.Y. 10017


The National Organization for Migrant Children is a national non-
governmental Organization concerned with the total welfare of the
children of migrant agricultural workers. Its Board of Directors
is composed of outstanding leaders in education, health, community
and farm labor affairs. The Organization is just completing a
study of community services for migrant children. Cassandra Stock-
burger, its Executive Director, is a nationally known advocate for
migrant children and was for thirteen years the Director of the
National Committee on the Education of Migrant Children. In that
capacity, she directed the first study of ESEA migrant education
programs, published as Wednesday's Children in 1971.

Cassandra Stockburger
Executive Director

A miqrant educator, in a state which has a major migrant child population, recently commented, " After ten years we still don't know anything about the migrant child. This honest statement offers encouracement that at least some migrant eductors are, after eleven years of ESEA programs, beginning to realize the complexity of the migrant child problem and perhaps to recognize some of the deficiences in current attempts to provide education for these children,

The migrant amendment to Title I of the ülementary and Secondary Education Act was hailed in 1966 as a major step forward in resolving the persistent problems in educating the children of migrant farm workers. It has resulted in an unprecedented involvement of the public schools with the migrant child. Visits to classrooms across the nation, such as we have made over the years, reveal migrant children enrolled in programs equal to those offered to nonmigrant children. Some are receiving very special attention, even over and above that usually offered by the schools. Nevertheless, it has been most difficult to determine whether, over the long term, this kind of education is meeting the child's needs as he moves from place to place.

Criticism of ESEA migrant programs are numerous and well-documented, dating from Wednesday's Children in 1971, which cited poor educational methodology, lack of national goals and leadership, poor retention of children beyond the elementary grades, lack of evaluative data, and generally poor fiscal management. Subsequent audits and studies by HEW and others over the past seven years have indicated similar problem areas.


Migrant educators have been unable to stem this tide of criticism because no data collecting processes or long-term studies were initiated in the early stages and subsequent evaluative procedures have been unreliable or non-existent. As a result there does not exist any body of data which can adequately evaluate the migrant education efforts under ESEA over the past eleven years.

From the beginning, the program was placed in the hands of technicians and consequently did not benefit from sound needs assessment or creative planning. Migrant children are still expected, for the most part, to receive their education within traditional framel:orks of public school education despite their mobility and special needs.

But, even if every child enrolled in supplemental migrant education projects funded under the ESEA were receiving the services most appropriate to his needs, there would be just as many receiving no benefits. It seems clear that no more than 50% of the total eligible population are enrolled in ESEA project schools. In Texas it is reported that 40,000 of the estimated 105, 000 eligible children receive no benefits. In Florida it is estimated that 50% of the districts where migrant children live do not elect to participate.

At the same time enrollment figures are found to be inflated by the enrollment of improperly or inadequately identified children who are ineligible for participation, thus increasing the state's bounty. And some states continue to hold unutilized funds from year to year, while others complain of inadequate funding.2

While technology might be expected to play an important role in keeping up with migrant children, efforts to date have been unfortunate. Millions of dollars have been squandered on the ligrant Student Record Transfer System without producing workable and dependable design. It is to the credit of many sensitive and well-trained classroom teachers that they have rejected the repeated efforts of technicians and bureaucracts to impose the L-ISRTS as an educational tool by transmitting test and skills data of doubtful validity.

The HSRTS track record has been so poor and local hostility to its demands so strong, that it is doubtful that it can ever receive the local cooperation required to provide reliable data of any kind. The use of the MSRTS as a source of predicting patterns of mover.ent or as the basis for reliable enrollment figures did seem to be a possible justification for its use. However, this must also be questioned. • The failure of local districts to properly certify eligibility or timely report enrollments appears to be a serious problem. Patterns of movement can likely be more reliably predicted and documented by crop and weather forcasts from year to year than by educators. In most communities arrival and departure times are quite reliably available from employers. So the continued use of a computer for such predictions may not be cost/effective in the absence of useful educational information.

To persist in attempt after attempt, as we have seen over the past five or six years, to transmit some commonly understood and acceptable test data or skills levels is questionable from an educational point of view. Teachers, adequately trained in evaluative techniques, simply do not need such information in order to teach.

The NSRTS operation still functions 50 poorly that in the summer of 1977, schools in Delaware had received no records at the beginning of the fifth week of a six week session. At the same time, Maryland had just begun to receive records which were reported as, once again, containing no new information than that last transmitted. The migrant education amendment programs have, we belive, been seriously weakened by making it a "catchall' for meeting educational needs of a number of rural and urban poor groups. Before the program was adequately established as a provider of special services for the currently migrant child, it was being constantly expanded to include other population groups such as former migrants and fishermen. It should be seriously questioned whether former migrants have a sufficient commonality of need to justify joint programming. Although current migrant children are intended to receive priority treatment, it is seriously questioned whether this is indeed now the case.

The current definition of a migrant child is inadequate. Without any determination that education has been interrupted or that educational need exists, children are being certified as eligible for special services. For example:

1. A college graduate, who vacationed with his family in the Carribean, moved into another county to take a job as a foreman on a large farm and enrolled his child in an ESEA supported program.

2. A teacher who moves to the coast with his family in the summer to find wosk as a fisherman believes that his children are eligible for the migrant program under the present definition,

The present migrant education program is far from adequate, but it is an improvement over conditions which existed a decade ago. We must seriously question whether or not the mirrant life style lends itself to a successful educational experience for the chilrren, if they are expected to be educated in the conventional classroom and during the conventional school year. In the face of overwhelming evidence that the educational needs of many nigrant children remain unriet we urge that changes be made in the operation of the programs and that alternative approaches to providing education be explored.

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1. Eligibility for migrant education programs should be tied to some determination of educational deprivation or interruption caused by migrancy. (Some parents object to the notion that their children should attend school year around simply because they are migratory.)


2. Eligibility should be restricted to current agricultural micrant children, ages 4 - 17, inclusive.

Migrancy should be defined as a temporary move or moves to work in seasonal jobo in agriculture, and should not include fulltime farm work. Other categories of non-migrant educationally deprived should be provided for under Regular Title I or state and local programs.

3. Further expansion of the proftram to cover other age groups should not be permitted, ecept as four year old can be accomodated in existing pre-school programs and youth, older than seventeen, remain in school to complete their secondary education. Post-secondary and adult education should properly be placed in other programs. This position is based on the fact chat:

a. the public schools have not yet demonstrated capability of handling

the education of the currently authorized population and to add other age groups or populations with such distinct needs as ages 0-3 and/or adult education would seriously hamper the required reforms and expansion called for in order to educate elementary and secondary child


b. the public schools have little experience in the care and education

of the O- 3 population whose needs can be met best in settings especially designed for them. Unless a special formula were provided such infant care would creatly dilute the procram for older children. Experience indicates that costs for such programs may be more than $50 for each child per week. The tooling up period for inclusion of young children in the public school would of necessity be a long one. The availability of such funds would discourage the development of other resources for micrant child care. And it is doubtful that many schools would elect to offer such services. Child care goes far beyond the normal responsibility of the public schools and requires flexibility and services not generally within the pattern or competence of public school education,

4. Comprehensive data collection and assessment procedures should be instituted at the national level which will provide basic data on the migrant child and his educational progress, as well as determine the cost/effectiveness of such programs as full-funded summer schools and the MSRTS.

5. it multi-disciplinary Research and Development project should be initiated at the national level to study effective models with other migrant populations, if there are any, and to develop a national strategy for dealing with the multiple needs of the migrant child.

6. "Supplemental" services should be so interpreted as not to rule out effective interration of migrant children into on-going school classrooms and services. (See HEW Audit, Arizona, 1976.)

7. The ESEA legislation should be amended to guarantee any eligible migrant
child access to supplemental assistance. If state agencies cannot provide
such aid through the child's local school, then there should be a provision
to provide to such a child comparable services. The Commissioner's deter-
mination of "unable or unwilling" siould be based on the child's own school's
failure to provide services, not on the state's failure as a whole as is the
cabe at present.

8. Provision should be made for educational alternatives to the public schools, especially during the summer months. Summer schools are costly, non-comprehensive in their care and of undetermined educational value in the long-term education of the child. Primary emphasis during the summer should be on the child's care and protection during whatever period of time the parent is working and unable to provide such care. Possible alternatives are the purchase of care from existing services such as day care centers, residential and day camps.

We would strongly recommend that authorization be given for certain kinds of carefully planned and monitored experimental approaches to care and education of migrant children, These may be apart from the public schools or may include them as a partner in the experiment. We believe comprehensive child development centers for children up to age twelve could be provided in high migrant impact areas. These would be able to combine present day care, health and education services and elininate duplicate administration, staffing and transportation costs. Hours and dates of operation should be determined to provide maximum accomodation to the needs of the migrant family instead of being based on current patterns of school operations.

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