More Dominican immigrants are succeeding in school, despite their parents poverty and lack of education, writes Samuel Freedman in the New York Times. He cites a study by Prof. Ramona Hernandez, a sociologist who directs the Dominican Studies Institute at CUNY.
“We came here to make it,” said Professor Hernandez, who moved to New York herself in her late teens. “When we leave home, we really leave. This is it for us. You have this immigrant courage, energy, desire.”
Parents who work at draining jobs for meager wages – janitors, cabbies, seamstresses, hairdressers – point to their own toil as the fate their children must avoid.
Korean immigrants are seen as “the new Jews – a largely educated, urbanized population in its homeland that rapidly surged into higher education and the professions in America,” Freedman writes. The Dominicans are more like the Italians.
In this case, the peasantry has come from the Cibao valley or the Santo Domingo barrios instead of the Mezzogiorno, but the upward mobility through public education and small business follows the same trajectory.
Yet even as more Dominican immigrants earn a high school diploma, more American-born Dominicans drop out of school. When immigrant drive isn’t enough to lift a family, Freedman theorizes, “the next generation adopts the most self-destructive attitudes of poor, urban America, about how doing well in school is just for chumps.”