Poverty's Effects: Mexican-American Students | Teen Ink

Poverty's Effects: Mexican-American Students

March 12, 2015
By Kaylaboo GOLD, Omaha, Nebraska
Kaylaboo GOLD, Omaha, Nebraska
15 articles 69 photos 3 comments

Favorite Quote:
Music is...a higher revelation than all wisdom and philosophy. -Ludwig Van Beethoven
A woman is like a teabag, you don't how strong she is until she is in hot water. -Eleanor Roosevelt

 Many students who are not living in the United States of America are attending American public schools for free. In 1982, the Supreme Court made it illegal for schools to investigate a family’s immigration status (Brown). Laws make it impossible for a school to restrict undocumented immigrants or non-residents from attending. May 2014, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. and Education Secretary Arne Duncan delivered a reminder to schools that refusing undocumented children an education is against federal law (Preston). Secretary Arne Duncan also made a statement saying, “Our goal must be to educate, not to intimidate” (Preston). American citizens should not have to pay taxes to support students that are not citizens of the U.S.A. or traveling students that do not live in the school’s district. If an American student is living in Mexico, that student should attend school in Mexico, not the United States. 

By rule of federal law, public schools are unable to request documentation, as previously stated. The federal government if forcing school districts to accept all students; Plyler v. Doe (1982) made a major impact on the court’s decision. According to Cornell University’s Law school, “Plyler v. Doe is a U.S. Supreme Court case in which the Court struck down a Texas statute that denied funding to local school districts for the education of children who were not "legally admitted" into the United States, and which authorized local school districts to deny enrollment to such children (Cornell). The Court held that illegal aliens and their children, though not citizens of the United States or Texas, are people "in any ordinary sense of the term" and, therefore, are afforded Fourteenth Amendment protections and that since the state law severely disadvantaged the children of without a "compelling state interest” it violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment” (Cornell). These laws should be changed. Amendments to the Constitution exist for a reason. Only those that support the “liberty” of the United States of America as a whole should benefit from its grace and protection.
It is important for every child to receive an education, but not at the great expense to another country, in this case, the United States. Schools impact students in a number of positive ways including classes providing health and physical education information that discourage unhealthy behavior. Children in low income or struggling homes often drop out of school, and tend to get into trouble more than students who continue school and graduate. Numbers seem to be even higher for Mexican children, and the young ages of the affected children are astonishing. One negative effect is the broad number of smoking minors and drug users. The International Journal of Behavioral Medicine explains one study done based on the numbers of Latino smoking children and teens. “In a recent study, Moreno et al. (1994) found that Mexican and Mexican-American parents are more likely to prompt, directly or indirectly, their seventh grade adolescents to engage in smoking-related behaviors than parents from other ethnic groups” (Sallis).

America’s hard-earned tax dollars are spent on undocumented students that do not help support the school district’s funding. A major point in the argument for traveling students from Mexico to the United States is their citizenship. Hundreds, maybe even thousands, of undocumented Mexican immigrants have children in the United States every year. These children are legal American citizens even though their parents are not. American children whose parents do not live in America do not contribute to the national and local taxes. Traveling students that reside in Mexico and attend United States schools add to the financial problems.  The students use up American taxes and put unnecessary pressure on the school districts. No, it is not necessarily fair to the students themselves, but it is not right that they travel and a separate school district is made responsible for their tuition fees. Sandra Dibble wrote about the struggles traveling students face in her article “Program helps U.S. students in Mexican schools”. She seems to approve of the student’s undocumented attendance in United States schools. It is hard for kids, who were raised in America, to make it in Tijuana schools even though their families are of Mexican origin, and many speak Spanish at home. Dibble explains that many of the students consider themselves American and want to return to their old schools.

New York Times journalist Patricia Leigh Brown published an article that states, “Ed Brand, superintendent of the Sweetwater Union High School District in Chula Vista, says an American citizen living outside the county would pay tuition of $7,162.” So, for every student in that district that should be unapproved, $7,162 is spent (Brown). Studies in 2010 showed that Mexico spent a minimal average of $2,993 per student (Washington AP). If a country is not willing or able to meet the growing needs of its students it should not be the required duty of another country to do so.  

Figure 1 displays the education spending for multiple countries. Mexico, shown in red, spent $2,765 per student in 2011 while the United States, shown in blue, spent $11,841 per student.  The statistics presented are troubling because as costs are rising, Mexico is decreasing its education funding (Washington AP). Education is Mexico will have a dismal future if changes are not made. Rising financial pressures, caused by the Mexican government and economy, have pushed families to illegally immigrate. The outrageous number of undocumented immigrants and students in the United States are primarily caused by Mexico’s inability to support its people. Mexico needs to take responsibility for its citizens.

The government of Mexico should pay a minimum of $2,993, or $2,765 depending on which year data is taken from, to the United States government for every Mexican student that attends American public schools. A stipend would assist the United States and give more students of Mexican origin an opportunity to attend school without draining the education taxes. Traveling and undocumented students would no longer have to hide behind a shameful façade built on lies. The students have shown themselves to be hard workers fighting for an education. A fee based on location, nationality, and family income would benefit both the students and the U.S. government. Of course the Mexican government lacks the funds to fully pay for all of the children attending schools in America, but a plan such as this could help more students thrive. If successful students can achieve great things in America, they can help cultivate a strong educational program in Mexico. The motivation is there, but students need funding and more opportunities. Positive results can come from a stressful and confusing issue such as the fight for education.  

By implementing necessary changes needed to government policy, politicians would greatly improve the education in schools needed in the United States of America.

The author's comments:

I wrote this article for my English Comp II class. It covers some important aspects of how poverty effects Mexican and Mexican-American students that are trying to receive and education. 


There is a figure that I was unable to include from OECD website that shows countries spending on education. If you are interested in viewing the graph this citation might help: Education Spending: Primary to non-tertiary, US dollars/students, 2011. Source: Education Database, Education Resources. OECD 2015. Web. 4 March 2015. 


For the sake of space and time I will not include the rest of the works cited, but comment if you'd like more information!

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