Translating for family members is often considered a burden on bilingual children that can distract them from schoolwork, says Marjorie Faulstich Orellana, now an education professor at the University of California at Los Angeles. But her study of nearly 300 bilingual students in Chicago found just the opposite was true.
Today, Leticia Barrera is an education organizer for the Logan Square Neighborhood Association (LSNA) and one of several dozen parents from the area who are studying to become bilingual teachers through a program organized by LSNA. Called Nueva Generación, the program holds afternoon classes at the Monroe Community Center in the Monroe School Annex.
DREAM stands for Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors. Despite an impressive academic record at a Chicago public high school, Fernando has had to turn down many opportunities—among them a summer program at Harvard University and a four-year scholarship to Benedictine University in suburban Chicago—because he is ineligible for a Social Security number.
Since school districts are barred from asking students about immigration status, there is no solid count on the number in Chicago who might benefit from the act. A study by the Center for Urban Economic Development at the University of Illinois at Chicago suggests that about 20,000 undocumented high school students live in Chicago, and that roughly 3,500 of them graduated from high schools last June.