On January 24, 2022, the Office of English Language Acquisition in partnership with the Office of Refugee Resettlement, the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education, and the Office for Civil Rights hosted a webinar entitled Keeping the Promise: Education and Afghan Newcomers. Questions raised during that webinar are addressed below.
1. What are the rights of Afghan newcomers to education? How does the U.S. Department of Education support these rights?
In the United States all children have the right to free public education. Children have this right regardless of their or their parents’ or guardians’ immigration status. Confronting Discrimination Based on National Origin and Immigration Status: A Resource For Families and Educators is a new resource from the Civil Rights Division (the Division) of the U.S. Department of Justice and the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at the U.S. Department of Education that outlines the rights of students and their families when enrolling and attending school in the United States. This document reminds families and educators that schools may not prevent or discourage children from enrolling because of immigration status or lack of documentation such as birth certificates or social security cards. The document also states that schools must provide language assistance as well as disability related services to all students who may need them. This resource also provides guidance on what families can do if they believe that their child is experiencing discrimination based on immigration status, or if their child is not receiving services that he or she is entitled to.
Additional resources on schools’ civil rights obligations to English learners and parents who require English language assistance can be found here.
2. What language resources exist in Dari and Pashto to help communities support our Afghan newcomers?
The U.S. Department of Education has launched a Keeping the Promise webpage that features resources to help communities support Afghan newcomers and their families. This page features a number of curated resources intended to help SEAs and LEAs in serving Afghan newcomers. Under the Linguistic and Cultural Resources tab, you will find helpful tools and resources on Dari and Pashto languages, as well as Afghan history and culture that can help communities in the U.S. welcome and support Afghan newcomers.