New Issue Brief from IIH Celebrates Innovation of Educators in Immigrant-Serving Districts in Response to Covid-19
August 3, 2020
MEDIA RELEASE, 08/03/2010. 12.00 EST.
ISSUE BRIEF: 'Connectivity and Creativity in the Time of COVID-19: Immigrant Serving Districts Respond to the Pandemic' (Available in English and Spanish).
A new policy report released today by the Immigration Initiative at Harvard with the PIECE (Putting Immigration and Education in Conversation Everyday) research collaborative reports cutting-edge findings on how six immigrant-serving school districts are adapting and connecting with communities in the face of COVID-19 pandemic and school closures. It includes case studies and quotes from educators on the front-line.
Professor Rebecca Lowenhaupt isAssociate Professor of Educational Leadership at Boston College, co-author of the report and founding member and Principal Investigator of the present study. She commented:
"When the pandemic hit, we felt a sense of urgency to respond to the inequalities that were laid bare and exacerbated by the crisis. At the same time, we were inspired by the innovative responses of our district partners, who demonstrated commitment and creativity in supporting immigrant students during school closures this Spring. As districts prepare for the uncertainty of the new school year, we wanted to share immediate insights from our conversations with the hope it might help other immigrant-serving districts grappling with similar dilemmas.”
Since 2017, the PIECE research team has worked in partnership with six immigrant-serving school districts across the country to identify promising practices to support immigrant-origin youth and work toward reducing the inequalities they face.
Based on two meetings in mid-May of 2020, this issue brief presents some initial findings from this research in progress. Among other key findings, it reports that:
The disproportionate and inequitable impacts of COVID-19 nationally mean that immigrant communities face added burdens on their physical and mental health, in addition to economic disparities. These increasing concerns, combined with ongoing efforts to restrict immigration, limit access to educational opportunity.
Immigrant-serving districts have grappled with these challenges as they seek ways to ameliorate inequalities exposed and deepened by the COVID-19 pandemic.
School districts can support immigrant-origin students and families during this time by creating innovative strategies to meet families’ basic resource-related needs, developing rapid-response equitable instructional policies that center students and their needs, and prioritizing relationships and communication in a way that is sensitive to the specific needs of immigrant families.
A district administrator in Texas who was interviewed for the research, commented,
“It's like we're all in the storm, but on different boats. Some people are in a yacht, some on a raft, some have no boat at all. We have a responsibility as humans to help one another, but especially as educators, it's compounded. In this storm, our role is to really help kids and their families get through this.”
About the PIECE Research Collaborative
Funded by the W.T. Grant and Spencer Foundations, the PIECE research collaborative was established in 2017 with the goal of “putting immigration and education in conversation everyday” by examining the educational implications of increasingly restrictive immigration policy in the US. Led by a team of researchers at four universities including Boston College, City University of New York’s Graduate Center, the University of Washington and the Harvard Graduate School of Education, the research-practice partnership involves district and school administrators in 6 immigrant serving school districts in distinct contexts around the US.
About the Immigration Initiative at Harvard
The Immigration Initiative at Harvard (IIH) was created to advance and promote interdisciplinary scholarship, original research, and intellectual exchange among stakeholders interested in immigration policy and immigrant communities. The IIH serves as a place of convening for scholars, students, and policy leaders working on issues of immigration — and a clearinghouse for rapid response, non-partisan research and usable knowledge relevant to the media, policymakers, and community practitioners.
The report is the fifth piece of research to be released as part of IIH’s Research Series, an ongoing initiative to disseminate rigorous, non-partisan, and non-ideological research on immigration issues across a broad range of disciplines and perspectives. In January 2020, they published a report that focused on the impact of immigration enforcement on the nation's schools. Additional briefs will be released on a bi-monthly basis through 2020.
For more information on the research and for media comment related to the brief, please contact:
Professor Roberto G. Gonzales, Professor of Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and Director of the Immigration Initiative at Harvard; co-author of the report and founding member of the PIECE research collaborative.