Immigration & Education Scholarship

Meaningful engagement with the Iranian-American community between home and school may build on the strengths of the communities’ socio-cultural, economic and political pieces of knowledge and identity. The importance of such an understanding cannot be understated. Especially when juxtaposed against the new era of demographic transformation that is currently underway. The United States is undergoing its most profound immigrant population growth in over a century.

This work contributes to the study of immigration and education, in so far as it will develop new scholarship about Iranian immigration and its various modes of incorporation and how impacts on American society. With continued exploration using the funds of knowledge and identity approach investigating the social relationships of children and their interactions, learning environments, and engagements, these accumulated funds, can add to a wider depth of knowledge on schooling, community, and society. This lens offers a different perspective of Iranian-American immigrant communities whose absorption of the familial, communal, and schooling funds of knowledge and identity may reveal another level of the ways generational Iranian-Americans adapt the cultural values and transform identity.

Immigration is the driving force behind many of the most significant changes in the United States and the world. Specifically, changes that affect new labor, business and skill development that are crucial for the 21st century (Foner, Rumbaut, & Gold, 2000). Therefore, education and immigration scholarship can and must play a role for arriving immigrants but also distinguish between the different generations. The better we understand the role of immigrant families the more we can learn about adaption, education and everyday experiences.

Therefore, education and immigration scholarship weaves methods to represent such diverse communities. The immigrant population of the United States today numbers 55 million people (Foner, Rumbaut, & Gold, 2000). 27 million are considered first-generation immigrants and 28 million U.S. born children of immigrants (49). Alone, these numbers reveal the importance of establishing scholarship for and with the current immigrant population in mind.

The advantages of working together with large segments of the population to include representations of identity, culture, and knowledge can increase the success of   today’s newcomers. With many immigrant communities heavily concentrated in particular areas and neighborhoods- ethnic enclaves. Producing scholarship such as the models of identity and funds of knowledge can articulate the circumstances for many of the families and children from these neighborhoods. Intentionally developing a scholarship of this type may further explain what Portes and Rumbaut (2006) discuss as the fragmented environment second-generation youths confront today. Specifically, the segmented assimilation model that looks at the diverse experiences of assimilation among new waves of immigrants and their children, which is predicated on educational attainment and career success.

The theory is articulated in the literature based on the idea that American society is now diverse and segmented. With fully one-third of the immigrant population of the United States residing in large cities like California, Florida, Texas, and the New York-New Jersey region. The argument is, the newer immigrants can associate with these established groups and thus assimilate either upwardly or risk the three major challenges articulated by Portes and Rumbaut (2006). These challenges are the persistence of racial discrimination, the divergence of the American labor market and its growing inequality, the alternative lifestyles in American inner cities such as gangs and drugs (200). The central question is not whether the second generation will assimilate to American society but to how and what segment of that society they will assimilate.

An additional and alternative view to vocalize the experiences of second and third generation youth would be through the funds of knowledge and identity models. The goal is to gain considerable insight into how children, communities, and schooling accumulate and utilize these practices and activities to overcome segmented obstacles. The challenge then is to use theoretical modeling to understand the outcomes of immigrant groups and for raising questions about and responses to social and political conditions. Especially important is the societal issues regarding inequity, racism, poverty, and the slew of social injustices surrounding immigrant communities, which only heighten the value of education and immigration scholarship. Unlike the last great wave of European immigration at the turn of the twentieth century, which was halted by the passage of restrictive legislation in the 1920s and by the back-to-back global cataclysms of the Great Depression and World War II, the current flows show no signs of dwindling. No excessively harsh legislation that would drastically limit immigration is in sight. Moreover, inasmuch as immigration is a network-driven phenomenon and the United States remains the leading destination for a world on the move, the likelihood is that United States-bound immigrants will continue for many years to come (Foner, Rumbaut, & Gold, 2000).

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