As the Trump administration continues to reduce the number of refugees the U.S. will admit each year, our leaders should look to Ohio for examples of how states should welcome and resettle refugees. With strong initiatives in refugee job training and unprecedented support for immigrant-owned businesses, it’s no surprise that Ohio has been successful in helping refugees make the state their home. In fact, aside from Texas and Washington, Ohio resettled more refugees than any other state in 2018.
Access to a high-quality education is also a key factor that determines whether refugees can succeed in the United States. A good education is one of the only ways refugee children can catch up. Its transformative impact moves them from the grip of trauma into the freedom of opportunity and success. Thanks to state policies that allow schools and educators to tailor curriculum to the needs of students, Ohio is leading the way in educational opportunities for vulnerable populations like refugees.
At the same time, unfortunately, traditional schooling models are failing refugee students. Many refugee children cannot read and write in their own language, not to mention in English. Consider the language barrier alone: Only about 60% of English language learners graduate from high school, while the national average is more than 80%. It is clear refugee students need more intensive language study to be academically proficient, but most public schools don’t provide this.
Luma Mufleh is a 2019 Civil Society Fellow at the Manhattan Institute. Mufleh is the inspirational founder and CEO of Fugees Family, Inc., the nation’s only school network dedicated to educating and empowering child survivors of war.
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