Faculty News

Xue Lan Rong authors book on educating immigrant students

Xue Lan Rong, professor of social science education and the sociology of education, is first author of a recently published book, Educating Immigrant Students in the 21st Century: What Educators Need to Know (second edition). Published by Corwin Press, the book provides the information that educators need to know in order to address new challenges in educating children of diverse immigration backgrounds. Judith Preissle of the University of Georgia is the co-author.

The book is guided by research findings on immigrant students and their families. It explains the intro- and inter-group educational differences among varying immigrant students based on their diverse backgrounds, including race/ethnicity, linguistic characteristics, social status, economic condition, religious affiliation, generational status, and reason for and process of immigration. In addition, the book describes the varying local educational policies and school/classroom practices that immigrant students have experienced. It also offers helpful strategies and approaches for educators who are dealing with challenges resulting from the recent increase of immigration into the United States and the enormous diversity that immigrant children bring into our schools.

The book is divided into eight chapters. The first four provide an overview of immigration and education in the United States while the last four examine current immigration patterns from the following geographic areas: Asia, the Caribbean and Africa, Latin America and the Middle East.  Each chapter follows a similar format: A sketch of the immigration history of people from the region is presented, followed by a socio-demographic profile of immigrant children 5-18 years old and their parents. Then the educational attainment of immigrant children is examined.  The differences in life and schooling between immigrant children and native-born children as well as the variations among the nationality groups are explained within the framework of established theories. The last section of each chapter outlines the special needs of immigrant children from that region of the world and offers recommendations for educators, policymakers and parents.

The authors attempt to answer a range of important questions such as:

  1. What challenges do schools face as they try to come to grips with new immigration-driven student demography? What should schools do to encourage the integration of newcomers with the longer-term immigrants and the ones who are established? What role can communities play in helping culturally diverse children do well in school? How will schools cope with declining federal and local supports while still effectively integrating immigrant children into U.S. society? How should schools and communities deal with those who arrive uninvited?
  2. What are the promises and problems, challenges and opportunities when society and its schools deal with practical and policy issues on the education of large numbers of immigrant students with enormous diversity? What are differences between temporary and long-term solutions, simplified and more comprehensive solutions? What have been common agreements and disputes surrounding school and classroom practices as well as dilemmas and paradoxes surrounding laws and policies on the education of immigrant children? 

Ann Lin Goodwin, professor of education and associate dean of Teachers College at Columbia University, has recommended this book to educators, “Rong and Preissle’s first volume, Educating Immigrant Students, has become a standard reference for the education of immigrant students; one would be hard-pressed to find a piece of writing on this topic that does not cite or build upon their work. Their update of this important volume promises to be equally influential. The evolution and expansion of their research to encompass transnational and transcultural theoretical frameworks is cutting edge and absolutely timely given the changing, almost discursive nature of immigration within an increasingly complicated and shifting world context.”

Rong, a first-generation immigrant and native Chinese speaker, has focused much of her academic career on working with immigrant students, their families and ethnic communities. She has taught in public schools in the United States and China, and has served on the faculty of the UNC School of Education since 1993. She is the co-author of three other books and author or co-author of more than 20 journal articles and numerous book chapters.