Even with restrictions placed on refugee resettlement amid changing political mandates, the United States has welcomed more than 50,000 refugees per year in the past decade. Nearly one-third of these refugees are children, who often expect their new futures in America will be anchored by education, continued opportunity, and stability.
But the sad truth is that many of these children will confront monumental challenges related to race and socioeconomic status as they transition into adulthood — barriers that can prevent them from fulfilling their American dream.
A critical look at these children’s education in the U.S. reveals that it is just as important for schools to acknowledge refugee students’ steep and specific challenges as it is to help them perform well academically. Teachers have to be wary of the “false hope” that being successful in school will translate equally into livelihood opportunities for all students, according to a new paper by international education policy expert Sarah Dryden-Peterson and doctoral student Celia Reddick. Educators need to equip refugees with an understanding of the challenges they will face in the U.S. if they are economically disadvantaged or people of color — and not assume that these students will live the simpler lives of some native born and more affluent Americans.