Language, Culture, and Immigration

Language, Culture, and Immigration

"We advocate for equal educational opportunities and quality, integrated public education for all children to prepare them for the multicultural and multiracial realities of American life." —1991, General Synod Pronouncement, "Support of Quality, Integrated Education for All Children in Public Schools" 

As our nation becomes increasingly diverse, religiously, ethnically, and racially, how will public schools be prepared to serve children from diverse backgrounds?  How can the church be supportive of helping schools fully and openly welcome children, whatever their language and culture?  And how can the church help develop the political will for financial support for public schools that serve children from many cultures?  Resources from Justice and Witness Ministries will help your congregation explore these sometimes emotional issues.

Check out our web page, Immigration and Public Education, especially for information about the DREAM Act.

News Coverage

April 22, 2013: Marcelo M. Suarez-Orozco and Carola Suarez-Orozco, who have conducted research at UCLA about needed support for the adjustment of adolescents who emigrate to the United States, describe Immigrant Kids, Adrift and what is needed at school to assist them.

March 2013: Judge Upholds Arizona Law Banning Ethnic Studies Classes

March 2012: Arizona eliminates multiculural education program in Tucson public schools; bans books.  NY Times writer, Michael Winerip, examines impact on adolescent readers in Racial Lens Used to Cull Curriculum in Arizona.

February 2012: Shattered Families is the new and important report from the Applied Research Center about the tragic results when undocumented parents are detained by ICE and their children go into foster care. Too frequently the families are never re-united.


June 15, 2012: DREAM Act Good News!   Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announces process for eligible young people who may have been brought to the United States as children and do not present a risk to national security or public safety to receive deferred action for two years, subject to renewal, and to be eligible to apply for work authorization.

June 20, 2012: The National Immigration Law Center has published Frequently Asked Questions: Obama Administration's Relief Process for Eligible Undocumented Youth, that addresses several key issues about the new policy, including who is eligible, what are the fees, and whether those individuals granted deferred action will be able to get a driver’s license and qualify for in-state tuition. 

To learn more about the DREAM Act, check out our page on Immigration and Public Education, which explores the implications of the Development Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act (DREAM) Act, which has been re-introduced in the Senate and House for years by a bi-partisan group of sponsors and also what happens to children in school when their parents are detained in workplace immigration raids. 

UCC Justice & Witness Ministries Resources

The Justice & Witness Ministries 2010 Message on Public Education explores the politically charged issue of immigration as it affects public schools and children who are new to our country, their communities, and their schools.  As primary civic institutions, public schools reproduce the strengths and also the injustices in our society.  It is important for us as faithful citizens to reflect on ways we can work to make public schools more equitably serve all children. (We hope you will share with us how you used this resource.)

Whose Child Left Behind? Why? is the report of a UCC Public Education Task Force that visited schools in Cleveland, Ohio; Phoenix, Arizona; Hartford, Connecticut; and Wartburg, Tennessee between 2001 and 2005. The Task Force reported that, "how the school's culture and the child's culture are folded together matters." Study guide for this report is part of the 2006 Message on Public Education.

Experiencing Public Schools, A Process of Immersion and Discernment is a short study guide that will help your congregation set up, carry out and reflect on a visit to a public school in your community.  A focus of the UCC's Public Education Task Force, that prepared this guide, was consideration of the hidden curriculum at school—what every child in the school learns but nobody ever names.  These subtle messages often reflect on the identities, the cultures, and the languages of the students.

Repairing the Breach: Language and Culture at School was the cover story of the 2004 Message on Public Education.  It reports on a pre-Synod event sponsored by the UCC Public Education Task Force at General Synod XXIV, an event that featured James Banks, known as the Father of Multicultural Education.

Separate and Unequal is the report of a 1999-2000 public education task force appointed jointly by the American Missionary Association and the Commission for Racial Justice.  Language and culture at school are issues considered by this group.