Segregation of Children Who Migrate to the U.S. From Puerto Rico

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This study examined patterns of school segregation (ethnic/racial, linguistic, and socioeconomic) and other ecological characteristics of the schools that preadolescent children who migrate from Puerto Rico to the United States (New Jersey) attend in this country during the first two years following their arrival (N = 89 schools). The data show that Hispanics/Latinos are the majority of the student body in 43% of the schools; African Americans, in 30% of the schools; and European Americans, in 12% of the schools. Native speakers of Spanish are the majority of the student body in 29% of the schools. Approximately one half of the schools are in economically depressed, highly urbanized areas. Although the schools are on average large, 44% of them enroll above capacity. In most schools the majority of the student body is from economically impoverished families with low levels of parental education. There are, however, wide differences among the schools on each of these variables. Correlations show that the higher a student body's proportion of Hispanics/Latinos or native speakers of Spanish, the higher is the student body's proportion of pupils from economically impoverished households with low levels of parental education, and the higher the school's likelihood of being crowded and of being located in a poor inner-city area. Similarly, the higher a student body's proportion of African Americans, the higher is the student body's proportion of pupils from low-income families, and the higher the school's likelihood of being in a poor inner-city area. The findings are discussed with regard to implications for policy and hypotheses in need of research concerning possible consequences of school segregation for students' academic, linguistic, social, and emotional development. Also presented is a historical overview, to the present, and discussion of U.S. policies and judicial decisions concerning school segregation, with particular reference to segregation of Hispanics/Latinos.


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How to Cite
Laosa, L. M. (2001). Segregation of Children Who Migrate to the U.S. From Puerto Rico. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 9, 1.
Author Biography

Luis M. Laosa, Educational Testing Service

Luis M. Laosa has conducted extensive research in varied Hispanic/Latino communities (Chicano/Mexican American, Puerto Rican, Cuban American) throughout the United States and in Mexico and South America. His current studies include a large-scale longitudinal project focusing on child migration, supported in part by the William T. Grant Foundation and the Spencer Foundation. He is the author of numerous scientific and scholarly publications and is often sought as scientific and technical advisor to government agencies, universities, research centers, and philanthropic foundations. He is a fellow of the American Psychological Society and of the American Psychological Association (in the divisions of developmental psychology, educational psychology, general psychology, and ethnic-minority psychology). Other honors include a Martin Luther King, Jr./César Chávez/Rosa Parks Visiting Professorship at the University of Michigan, receipt of the Educational Testing Service's Senior Scientist Award, and induction into the Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society. Dr. Laosa has served on the editorial boards of Review of Educational Research, Child Development, Developmental Psychology, Journal of Educational Psychology, Psychological Bulletin, the Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, Early Education and Development, and Journal of School Psychology. He received his Ph.D. (1971) from the University of Texas at Austin (specializing in cross-cultural psychology, personality/social development, educational psychology, measurement, and research methodology); completed a postdoctoral residency in clinical and community psychology at the University of Texas Medical School, Health Sciences Center, at San Antonio; and received his certification in school psychology and his professional certification and license in general psychology. He was chief school psychologist in a large school district and has served on the clinical faculty of the Department of Psychiatry of the University of Texas Medical School and on the faculty of the Graduate School of Education of the University of California, Los Angeles. He has been on the research staff of Educational Testing Service in Princeton, New Jersey, since 1976, where at present he holds the post of principal research scientist.