From Myth to Multiculturalism

1325 WordsJun 22, 20186 Pages
Nieto and Bode (2008) observe that one myth about first-generation European immigrants who came to the United States during the period of immigration between 1880 and 1915 is that they succeeded academically. The fact, however, is they did not do well (Rothstein, 2004 as cited in Nieto & Bode, 2008) and most of the immigrants did not graduate from nor even attend high school ("Education," n.d.). Even second-generation immigrants often did not fare well; for example, only 17% of male and nine percent of female second-generation Italian students in 1915 in Providence, Rhode Island entered high school and a mere 33% of these graduated (Foner & Alba, 2006). Despite these facts, the Horatio Alger Theory of Ethnic Success (Steinberg, 2001)…show more content…
The problems of relocating to a new country during the already-difficult adolescent years can be greatly exacerbated by not being adequately prepared in one’s former academic setting to succeed in the new school. Immigrants also have to face the obstacle of attitudes and perceptions of the native population. The myth of the successful immigrant is neither the only nor the most unfair one that awaits the newly arrived immigrant. “Some people believe immigrants are an uneducated, unskilled burden on our economy and take advantage of many of the government funded programs established for the benefit of U.S. citizens” (Carmona, 1996, para. 1). While immigrants are less likely than the native population to have graduated high school, they are, on average, more likely to have received a post-graduate degree (Simon, 1995 as cited in Carmona, 1996). The problem with attributing success of some immigrants to cultural factors of their countries of origin is it forces one to blame the cultural factors for the failure of others (Steinberg, 2001). This then allows the native-born citizens to absolve themselves and their cultural structures of any guilt for the plight of immigrants. Scapegoating gives the native population license to ignore the problem and if confronted with it to blame someone or something else. This approach will not be of help to anyone. One way of aiding immigrant students in attaining academic
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