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Education and Immigration

Grace Kao, Elizabeth Vaquera, Kimberly Goyette

ISBN: 978-0-745-64832-3 February 2013 Polity 232 Pages


Education is a crucially important social institution, closely correlated with wealth, occupational prestige, psychological well-being, and health outcomes. Moreover, for children of immigrants – who account for almost one in four school-aged children in the U.S. – it is the primary means through which they become incorporated into American society. 

This insightful new book explores the educational outcomes of post-1965 immigrants and their children. Tracing the historical context and key contemporary scholarship on immigration, the authors examine issues such as structural versus cultural theories of education stratification, the overlap of immigrant status with race and ethnicity, and the role of language in educational outcomes. Throughout, the authors pay attention to the great diversity among immigrants: some arrive with PhDs to work as research professors, while others arrive with a primary school education and no English skills to work as migrant laborers. As immigrants come from an ever-increasing array of races, ethnicities, and national origins, immigrant assimilation is more complex than ever before, and education is central to their adaptation to American society.

Shedding light on often misunderstood topics, this book will be invaluable for advanced undergraduate and beginning graduate-level courses in sociology of education, immigration, and race and ethnicity.

1 Education and the American Dream 1

2 Becoming American (or Not): Paths to Assimilation 25

3 Historical Overview of Immigration 51

4 Educational Attainment and Socioeconomic Status of Immigrant Adults 76

5 Educational Achievement and Outcomes of Children in Immigrant Families 106

6 Language and Educational Success 140

7 Conclusion 170

References 189

Index 210

"In a little more than 200 pages, Education and Immigration covers state-of-the-art knowledge in this field in a clear and structured way that will appeal to students, researchers, and interested readers on both sides of the Atlantic."
European Sociological Review

“Public debates about immigration become more contentious by the day. Yet, far too often, this debate is based on myth, assumption, and conjecture rather than sound scientific evidence. With this book, Kao, Vaquera, and Goyette – first-rate scholars all – have provided the solid compendium of evidence that we so desperately need, sketching out the risks that the children of immigrants face in the American educational system and the remarkable resilience they demonstrate chasing the American Dream.”
Robert Crosnoe, University of Texas at Austin

“In this insightful and gracefully written volume, Kao, Vaquera, and Goyette show there is no single story of immigration and education. There is important variation between and within immigrant groups that policy makers need to attend to, and variation along the lines of class, race, and language that we all need to be aware of as we consider which groups do better and why.”
Vivian Shuh Ming Louie, Harvard University

“America is both an immigrant society and an education society. This important book intertwines these two important themes and brings together the latest scholarship on the topic. I highly recommend this book.”
Yu Xie, University of Michigan

  • An insightful new book exploring the educational outcomes of immigrants and their children in the US
  • With children of immigrants making up almost a quarter of school-aged children in the US, the role education plays in adaptation to US society is critical
  • Examines issues such as the effects of culture and class, the overlap of immigrant status with race/ ethnicity, and the role of language in educational outcomes
  • Ideal for upper-level students thanks to its lively and accessible style, engagement with contemporary theory, and questioning of common misconceptions