Supported and Unsafe: The Impact of Educational Structures for Immigrant Students On School Safety

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We draw upon the case of Seacrest High School to show that the extensive, physical separation of U.S.-born and immigrant students, as well as targeted supports for immigrant students absent similar attention to the rest of the student body, undermine the conditions necessary for a safe school. Seacrest community members expressed conflicting and conflicted perceptions concerning the extent to which immigrant students should receive differential treatment and the extent to which they should be physically isolated. These perceptions, which evoked concerns about fairness and educational efficacy, put the school’s legitimacy into question and threatened its ability to ensure safety. Despite misgivings, the structure was insulated in part by a web of racial stereotypes about Asian immigrant and African American students. We conclude that educational practices for English language learners should be evaluated by their effects on school culture and particularly on school safety.



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