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San Diego Unified Partners With Baja Schools As More US Kids Enroll South Of The Border

Children and their families take an adaptation course at the Binational Program for Migrant Education in the northern border city of Tijuana, Mexico, March 1, 2012.
Associated Press
Children and their families take an adaptation course at the Binational Program for Migrant Education in the northern border city of Tijuana, Mexico, March 1, 2012.
San Diego Unified Partners With Baja Schools As More US Kids Enroll South Of The Border
Schools in Baja California are seeing more new students from the United States than from Mexico. Now, the San Diego Unified School District is partnering with those Baja schools and the Mexican consulate to better serve those students.
San Diego Unified Partners With Baja Schools As More US Kids Enroll South Of The Border
San Diego Unified Partners With Baja Schools As More US Kids Enroll South Of The Border GUEST: Marcela Celorio, Mexican consul general in San Diego

Since President Trump's election more than 2000 US-born students have enrolled in Baja California schools some of the citizens move because their parents were deported and many are not fluent in Spanish and are adjusting to life in a new country. A new partnership is trying to make that burden easier. Joining me to discuss the program is the Mexico counsel general in San Diego. Thank you for having me. Researchers have called these people be invisible once. Why is that? What is school like in Baja? Yes. Since my arrival here as a Mexican Consulate, I was pretty concerned about the cross-border issues. That is what I call myself, I cross-border counsel. I am working in my team is working to join efforts to help our community. Even in this case, we launched these cross order location partnerships. This is aimed to help all these children that are binational. They are U.S. citizens and Mexican citizens. Because of the circumstances they have to go back to Mexico. While they are acquainted with the system in the United States, they don't know how the system works in Mexico. To make their life easier, not just for the children but also for the parents, and the teachers, we are launching this program. We will have these schools, they are sister schools. We are going to provide all the tools and information so there will be they will have help -- they will have help to learn the language and express themselves. They will be able to participate more often. The parents at here have PTAs but we don't have that in Mexico. This is an overall purpose of the cross border education system. How many US-born students are going to school across Mexico or in Baja? According to the Department of education there are 55,404 U.S. warned students in Baja California. Recently, in the Lasix months, we have seen the arrival of approximately 1200 students. This is not a new trend. How far back does this go? U.S. citizens enrolling in schools in Mexico and why do you think we are seeing a spike right now works As you mentioned before, these are complicated times because there is low lot of and certainty. We don't know -- uncertainty. We don't know what the new legislation will have impact. We can see these 1200 kids that are willing to study in our system in Mexico. You mentioned that many students are not fluent in Spanish because they grew up in the U.S. not speaking Spanish. What are some of the obstacles they face in school. Some of them get held back in grades because of confusion over whether grades were in America. Yes. That is an issue. The grading system in Mexico is like, you can have a 10 and it means an eight. -- And A. If they get an 8 or seven, they don't know how they are performing. Little by little, with this kind of information, they will get acquainted with the Mexican system. Once this program gets off the ground, what will it feel like for the students in Baja? What will their days be like? It is the same that happens to the Mexican community here. There are still 60% of the Mexican community that work here in the United States, leave live here and are not bilingual. Imagine the challenges they are facing here the ninth dates, they will face those challenges as well in Mexico. Fortunately they may have the people over there that will help them to be more adapted to the society. In schools, we are going to share best practices and lessons learned. Teachers, children and parents will help them to face this best these every date challenges. They have to learn Spanish. And they will be paired with Spanish-speaking people in school? Of course. Do many students return to the United States or are many of them still in Mexico as adults? We don't know. Being binational, I see it as a plus. This will give them the option in the future. If they want to remain in Mexico they will not have any problem at all. If they want to come back to the United dates as well, they are American citizens. They will be here legally. During schooling do you anticipate some may go back while they are still children to go from school to the U.S. and then back to U.S.? Yes, maybe. Every case is different. We have a generalization. You have to take a look at every case because every case has many different characteristics. Maybe. Will there also be support for these students parents? Yes. Also, there was -- when we launched this yesterday. There was a representative from the PTA. They are committed to help also the parents go through this new process. I have been speaking with the counsel general here in San Diego. Thank you so much for being with us. On the contrary, thank you so much for having me.

More than 2,000 U.S.-born children have enrolled in Baja California schools since the U.S. presidential election, according to the San Diego Unified School District. That is nearly triple the number of Mexican children enrolling, and a major strain on a system that does not have the space or materials to educate them.

That is why San Diego Unified has partnered with the Department of Education of Baja California and the Mexican consulate in San Diego. It is working to smooth the transition for its former students.

“It is an issue when we think about interrupted education and how that will impact students — and technically, you know, U.S. citizens,” said Stan Anjan, director of the district’s Family and Community Engagement Office.


Many have moved because their parents were deported, lost jobs or had a family emergency.

RELATED: Deported Students Find Challenges At School In Tijuana

Anjan said English-speaking students entering public schools in Mexico experience full immersion, unlike Spanish-speaking students in the United States, who start out in special classes for English-learners.

He said there are other things do not translate either. A U.S. student with a “4” on his or her report card is a high achiever, but in Mexico, a “4” means failing, Anjan said. He said he has heard of students being placed in lower grade levels because of the misunderstanding.

The differences add up to a rough transition.


“We are seeing an influx of students transitioning back and forth from U.S. to Mexican schools and vice-versa, experiencing significant culture shock that has a large impact on their education,” said Baja California’s Secretary of Education, Miguel Ángel Mendoza González, in a press release.

RELATED: To Attend School, Young U.S. Citizens Who Live In Mexico Cross The Border Daily

The partnership plans to pair up three San Diego kindergarten teachers with their counterparts in Mexico to troubleshoot inconsistencies between the school systems, improve communication and record sharing among schools, and bridge inconsistent curriculum so students are less likely to skip a beat when moving between systems.

San Diego Unified officials plan to travel to Mexico in May. The teachers will follow at a later date, but much of their collaboration will occur online, Anjan said.

The district also plans to develop informational materials that parents can access before making a move to either side of the border.

The phenomenon, while more acute since the election, is not new. The district has always had students who leave the country for an extended period of time and later return. The district says the partnership is an investment in children who may likely return to San Diego schools.

“Diversity is one of our core strengths as a school district and a city, just as bi-national students make our schools stronger, it is our job to provide them with every opportunity to achieve educational success,” said Superintendent Cindy Marten in a press release.

The district recently caught heat from a small group of protesters for catering to immigrant families at a time when some 1,700 staff could be laid off. The district has worked to ease fears about immigration enforcement at school sites, rolled out an anti-Islamophobia program, and voted to support a state boycott of border wall contractors.

San Diego State University already has a similar partnership. Students in its Department of Dual Language and English-Learner Education have long collaborated with teachers in Mexico. The partnership has grown stronger in recent years as the influx of U.S.-born students requires Mexican teachers to seek training in bilingual education.