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MailTribune.com
  • Migrant student numbers soar

    ESD summer school serves the largest cohort in the state
  • Southern Oregon Education Service District officials aren't sure whether recruiters are just getting better at identifying migrant students or more migrant students are passing through the area, but either way, the number of those students has skyrocketed in recent years.
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  • Southern Oregon Education Service District officials aren't sure whether recruiters are just getting better at identifying migrant students or more migrant students are passing through the area, but either way, the number of those students has skyrocketed in recent years.
    Currently, SOESD serves the largest population of migrant students in the state, according to Charlie Bauer, who coordinates SOESD programs for migrant and Indian students, as well as English Language Learners.
    "I started this job 11 years ago," Bauer said. "The year before I started, we served 16 students (in migrant summer school). Last summer, we served 705."
    Of that number, 480 students lived in Jackson County, 225 in Klamath County and none in Josephine County. SOESD serves all three counties.
    Migrant students, explained Antonio Ramos, director of the Oregon Migrant Education Service Center, are those who have not graduated from high school and who move frequently — alone or with their families — for a specific agricultural job or in search of agricultural work.
    As of June 30, local recruiters had identified and completed eligibility forms for 2,626 migrant youths, ages 0 to 21, living in Southern Oregon, Ramos said. Neither Ramos nor Bauer knew how many of those youth would attend migrant summer school this year.
    "Perhaps the most significant service we can offer migrant families is summer school," Bauer said. "The reason migrant education exists is because these are students who have experienced a disruption in their education. Maybe they are moving from a school that hasn't covered fractions and to a school that has covered fractions so they don't learn fractions. Summer school is one of the ways we fill these gaps."
    SOESD offers migrant summer school at 22 sites in Jackson, Josephine and Klamath County. The length of the program varies by site, ranging from two to six weeks.
    Like her mother, who works in the vineyards during the summer and at a pear factory during the winter, Amaryllis Monje is a hard worker.
    Monje, 17, will be a senior at North Medford High School this fall. While she is on track to graduate next June, she is taking a family health class this summer at Central Medford High School as part of Medford's migrant program.
    Monje said she is taking the class to reduce her workload during her senior year so she has more time to apply for scholarships and work. Ideally, she'd like to attend Oregon Institute of Technology in the fall of 2015 and study dental hygiene.
    Currently, Monje, who has had a job since she was 15 years old, works 25 to 30 hours a week at Yogurt Hut. With the money she earns, Monje said, she is able to pay her own car insurance and phone bill and buy her own clothes, easing the financial burden of her mother, who at one point was working two jobs to make ends meet.
    This year, about 50 migrant secondary students are actively attending Migrant Summer School at Central, said Robert Harrison, who coordinates the program at the school.
    "These are students who see the struggles their parents go through and want to take advantage of the opportunities they are given," Harrison said.
    Angel Zamores, 14, who will be a freshman at North Medford High School this fall, is taking a bilingual literacy class as well as a middle school science class at Central to better his English and get a jump start on his high school credits.
    "If I wasn't in school, I would just be watching TV," he said.
    Samantha Angel, 12, has been attending summer school in the area since she was in first grade, first as a migrant student and later, once her family had settled, as a regular student.
    Angel's mother, Raquel Garay, has registered her children for summer school to improve their literacy and math skills.
    "I myself struggled with school," Garay said. "My parents were migrants, and we were moving here and there, and I couldn't go to summer school either because they couldn't get there or because there was limited access."
    Now, Garay makes sure her kids don't miss out on the opportunity.
    "Most families are dying to get into summer school," Bauer said. "Most families came here for a better life for their children. So it's very important to them. And during the summer most parents are working and working long hours so it's beneficial to them to have their children occupied doing something positive and not on the street."
    Reach education reporter Teresa Thomas at 541-776-4497 or tthomas@mailtribune.com. Follow her at www.twitter.com/teresathomas_mt.
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