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January 2001, Volume 7, Number 1

Farm Worker Services

Cruz Reynoso, the first Latino to serve on the California Supreme Court, received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in August 2000. Reynoso was director of California Rural Legal Assistance for four years.


The Legal Services Corp made California Rural Legal Assistance the only provider of legal services in rural California, thus shutting down Channel Counties Legal Services Association and Legal Aid of the Central Coast at the end of 2000. Barbara Macri-Ortiz, head of Channel Counties, worked for the UFW between 1969 and 1987, leaving with a law license gained through the United Farm Workers School of Law, the apprenticeship program she developed.


Roberto Carmona was named the USDOL National Monitor Advocate; the post was created to settle a lawsuit in the 1970s that accused DOL of not providing equal employment services to farm workers. Federal and state monitor advocates work inside the ES agencies they monitor.


MEP. The federal Migrant Education Program spends about $355 million in federal funds to assist 735,000 children of migrant farm workers with supplemental educational services. Eligible children are aged three to 21 who have moved during the last 36 months because of their family's agricultural, dairy, fishing or logging employment. In 1999, MEP provided $90 million for 240,000 migrant students in California.


Fresno county has the nation's largest MEP program, receiving $4 million a year to provide supportive services to 10,000 of the 80,000 students in the Fresno Unified School District. An effort to manage the city program directly, not through the Fresno County Office of Education, was stopped in October 2000.


California has several pilot programs, including Portable Assisted Study Sequence or PASS, which provides high school courses to help 8,000 migrant students accumulate credits toward graduation in a central location as they move around the state.


Many migrant children spend part of the year in Mexico and part of the year in the US. With the aid of Miami-based long-distance telephone service Americatel (800-530-5120), Mexico has been promoting the use of the "transfer document for binational migrant students." The bilingual document, available at Mexican consulates, is filled out with the help of the student's American school and must contain the student's personal information, courses completed, grades and educational needs. The student's parents are required to bring the document with them when they enroll the child in a Mexican school in grades one through nine.


There are more children with nonfarm parents crossing school district lines than children of migrant farm workers. New Jersey reported in November 2000 that at least 10 percent of New Jersey's elementary and high schools see more than one-third of their students change by midyear.


CAMP. The US Department of Education also operates several other education programs for migrants and their children, including the College Assistance Migrant Program (CAMP).


One application for a CAMP grant in Texas asserted that 19 percent of the Hispanic students enrolled in grades seven-12 in Texas were identified as migrant students in 1998 by the Texas Migrant Education Program.


The U.S. Department of Education in September 2000 awarded the University of Wisconsin $1 million to develop distance learning materials for 2000 migrant families. Lupe Martinez, executive director of United Migrant Opportunity Services in Wisconsin, said the program would help open new opportunities for migrant workers.


402s. The US Department of Labor provides funds to administer two employment and training assistance programs for needy workers-for migrant and seasonal farm workers and for Native Americans. Some of the service providers that compete for MSFW assistance funds have become significant businesses, including California Human Development Corp, which has a $23 million annual budget to provide a variety of services to MSFWs and others--$3.5 million is from the 402 program.


The US Department of Housing and Urban Affairs has a page of links for MSFW service providers at: http://www.hud.gov/migrant.html