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. The MEP is administered in all 50 states including Hawaii, Alaska, District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. The 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 issues 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. In the 2018–19 school year, 78,947 youth ages 3–21 were identified as migratory youth in California.
According to ESSA the purpose of Migrant Education is:
- To assist States in supporting high-quality and comprehensive educational programs and services during the school year and, as applicable, during summer or intersession periods, that address the unique educational needs of migratory children.
- To 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 challenging State academic standards.
- To ensure that migratory children receive full and appropriate opportunities to meet the same challenging State academic standards that all children are expected to meet.
- 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 succeed in school.
- To help 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 from one residence to another or across school district boundaries due to economic necessity. A young adult may also qualify if he or she has moved on his own within the past three years to engage in qualifying work or sought to obtain qualifying work (with a history of qualifying moves). 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 who have made a qualifying move within the previous one-year period and who are failing, or are most at risk of failing to meet state academic standards, or who have dropped out of school.