Migrant Education: The Right Measure of Opportunity and Support

Author: Mari Riojas Lester, Education Specialist: Migrant Program


What do the individuals listed below have in common?

José Hernández, Astronaut


Dr. Alfredo Quiñones-Hinojosa, Neurosurgeon


Susie Jimenez, Chef


John Quiñones, Broadcast Journalist


Salvador Mendoza, Jr., Federal Judge


Diana Saldaña, U. S. District Judge


Alexis Fernández, Engineer


Nereyda Valle, Language School Teacher in Spain



The obvious answer may be that they are intelligent, accomplished and successful professionals. The not so obvious answer is that all of them grew up with migratory families that made a living by working seasonal, temporary jobs in agriculture (also known as migrant workers or migrant farmworkers). Most likely, these individuals are intimately familiar with the challenges associated with low-paying, unstable, hazardous, and physically demanding jobs. Most important, it is also quite likely that the right measure of opportunity and support bolstered their dedication, dreams, and hard work toward excellence. These individuals are merely a handful of the numerous and inspiring success stories about children from migratory families.




Fifty years ago, in 1965, the Migrant Education Program (MEP) was authorized by Title I, Part C of the Elementary and Secondary Act (ESEA) to provide supplemental services to address the unique needs of migratory students under age 22. The ESEA is part of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s War on Poverty legislation. The Migrant Education Program strives to ensure that all migrant students reach challenging academic standards and graduate with a high school diploma that prepares them for responsible citizenship, further learning, and productive employment. Almost from the inception of the MEP, Education Service Center Region 13 and many of the school districts in the region have been involved in the identification and provision of supplemental services to eligible students. Our goal is to help all students graduate from high school and continue on to higher education.


Who are the migrant students?

Migrant children in our school districts and classrooms are children and youths ages 0 to 21 who have been identified by a certified Migrant Program Recruiter as eligible for services through the MEP because the parents/guardian, or youth (on their own) work in seasonal/temporary jobs in the agricultural, dairy, and/ or fishery industries. Migrant students move across district lines and the qualifying move must be within the past 36 months. Does your school have migrant students?


How can we increase the number of migrant student success stories?

  • The first step is to find them. Migrant Program Recruiters rely on referrals from school staff and word-of-mouth information from families to schedule eligibility interviews year-round. Contact the ESC Region 13 Migrant Program Recruiters about potentially eligible students.
  • Second, know who the migrant students are in your district. When students register, regardless of late-entry or early withdrawal, make sure there is accurate grade placement and that migrant students have access to all the district programs and services for which they are eligible. This may include Free and Reduced Lunch Program, Preschool services, Gifted and Talented Program, Summer School, Credit-Recovery Programs, AP Classes, Dual Credit Programs, and other district programs and services.
  • Third, collaborate with your district and regional MEP staff. The MEP team members are often the additional partner or resource to help you problem-solve, explore and coordinate for the best case-by-case student outcome. Please contact ESC Region 13 Migrant Education Program for more information.

Every school district has the responsibility to, either independently or with the assistance of a Regional Education Service Center, participate in the identification and recruitment of eligible migrant students in the district’s attendance area. This shared responsibility also makes it possible for us to come together when it is time to celebrate the accomplishments of migrant students everywhere.


Visit the sites below for more information about the MEP at the federal, state and regional level:

US Department of Education: http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/oese/ome/index.html

Texas Education Agency: http://tea.texas.gov/TitleI/PartC/Migrant/

ESC Region 13: http://www4.esc13.net/migrant

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