Overview of Migrant Education in California
The Migrant Education Program (MEP) is a federally funded program, authorized under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), as amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The complete text of ESSA (PDF) is located on the U.S. Department of Education Web page. MEP is administered in all 50 states including Hawaii, Alaska, District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. MEP is authorized by Part C of Title I and is designed to support high quality and comprehensive educational programs for migrant children to help reduce the educational disruption and other problems that result from repeated moves.
California's MEP is supported by both federal and state laws. Although the state law does not provide funding for the program, it does set out the administrative framework for delivering local MEP services through regional offices. The California MEP is the largest in the nation. One out of every three migrant students in the United States lives in California. Currently, there are over 102,000 migrant students attending California schools during the regular school year and 97,000 attending summer/intersession classes.
According to ESSA the purpose of Migrant Education is to:
- Support high-quality and comprehensive educational programs for migratory children to help reduce the educational disruption and other problems that result from repeated moves;
- Ensure that migratory children who move among the states are not penalized in any manner by disparities among the states in curriculum, graduation requirements, and state academic content and student academic achievement standards;
- Ensure that migratory children are provided with appropriate educational services (including supportive services) that address their special needs in a coordinated and efficient manner;
- Ensure that migratory children receive full and appropriate opportunities to meet the same challenging state academic content and achievement standards that all children are expected to meet;
- Design programs to help migratory children overcome educational disruption, cultural and language barriers, social isolation, various health-related problems, and other factors that inhibit the ability of such children to make a successful transition to postsecondary education or employment; and
- Ensure that migratory children benefit from state and local systemic reforms.
Eligibility Requirements for Participation
A child is considered "migratory" if the parent or guardian is a migratory worker in the agricultural, dairy, lumber, or fishing industries and whose family has moved during the past three years. A "qualifying" move can range from moving across school district boundaries or from one state to another for the purpose of finding temporary or seasonal employment. A young adult may also qualify if he or she has moved on his own for the same reasons. The eligibility period is three years from the date of the last move. Eligibility is established through an interview conducted by a Migrant Education recruiter who visits both home and employment locations where migrant workers are employed. The law states that migrant education services are a priority for those students whose education has been interrupted during the current school year and who are failing, or are most at risk of failing to meet state content and performance standards.