Black immigrants’ kids do well in school

The children of black immigrants from Africa, the Caribbean, and Latin America are well-prepared for school and well-behaved in the classroom, compared to their native-born black classmates and children born to Hispanic immigrants, concludes a University of North Carolina study released by the Migration Policy Institute.

Black immigrant parents are likely to be married, educated, employed and proficient in English, notes Education Week.

. . . mothers are also less likely to have abused drugs or alcohol during pregnancy and more likely to have breastfed, all of which lead to better health outcomes for young children, the report says.

Black immigrant parents also report strong support for education and were more likely to enroll their children in center-based care during the preschool years.

More than half of black immigrant children come from low-income families, the study found. Apparently, strong parents can ensure that poverty isn’t destiny.

About Joanne


  1. The problem is not poverty; it’s culture. Dysfunctional habits and behaviors cause and perpetuate poverty; poverty doesn’t cause dysfunction.

    I grew up in a small town where almost everyone was poor, in terms of material resources, but there were no illegitimate kids (in the 50s-early 60s), only one divorced person (abuse had been the issue) and a very strong work ethic. Kids finished 8th grade with better literacy, numeracy and general knowledge skills than most of today’s HS grads- because families and the community demanded it. Kids getting in trouble at school were also punished at home.

  2. I think this also flies in the face of the whole “soft bigotry of low expectations.” Almost Every student who performed well in my classroom did so because they took school & learning seriously. The majority of those who performed well also had at least one supportive and engaged adult in their life who held them accountable for getting the work done.

    When I have students approach me, years after having been my students, who range the spectrum of students of color (I’ve had a handful each year of students who were white), they universally tell me how much they enjoyed having me as a teacher & often thank me for being “so tough” on them as 6th graders. That toughness was nothing more than holding them to a standard that I knew each one could meet if they were willing to get the work done.

    • tim-10-ber says:

      Thank you ms_teacher for holding the kids to a higher standard! They will rise to it when they know someone believes they can!

    • You inspire me with your words. And your “Ms.” Oh, if it wasn’t for the forced anonymimity of the Internet, I’d ask you out to dinner! Oh well, c’est la vie.

    • OK, never mind. You’re not anonymous! And you’re married. 😛 (Forgot that lots of people here link their own websites in their posts.) Still, though, your husband’s a lucky guy! LOL

  3. Crimson Wife says:

    There is the whole selection bias thing about voluntary vs. involuntary immigrants. It takes a certain amount of brains and hard work to immigrate voluntarily from a distant continent. So we may be seeing the “cream of the crop” so to speak.

    • You make a good point about those who choose to immigrate, but their success here, despite poverty, casts doubt on racism as the explanation for native-born American blacks’ behavioral and academic/economic problems. And I don’t think that native-born American blacks can be categorized as involuntary immigrants, given the length of their heritage here; significantly longer than that of many, if not most, whites.

      • Crimson Wife says:

        But their ancestors were involuntary immigrants, brought here as slaves, vs. most white Americans’ ancestors, who had the gumption to set out for a distant land in search of better opportunities. There is a theory that one reason why ADHD rates are much higher among European-Americans vs. Europeans is that it’s genetic. Those whose ancestors were risk-takers immigrated to the U.S., while those with a lower risk tolerance stayed put in Europe.

        • Stacy in NJ says:

          No, sorry. We don’t have higher rates of ADHD in the USA; we have higher rates of diagnosis. That’s all.

          • Deirdre Mundy says:

            Also, most US blacks are mixed race. So they have ‘voluntary immigrant’ ancestors as well. And can the debtors, indentured servants, and religious refugees with nothing to lose at home really be such a ‘superior’ class? Yet we don’t cluck our tongues at the poor scholastic performance of DAR members…..

    • Wonks Anonymous says:

      Voluntary migrants do tend to systematically differ from their countrymen (particularly in the case of legal immigrants, who are further filtered by the receiving country). I would also suggest looking at refugees as another comparison. They tend to have poorer outcomes than immigrants.

  4. George Larson says:

    Doesn’t the life of a teenage thug sound like more fun than attending high school, obeying teachers and doing homework?

    • Crimson Wife says:

      Sure, I just love not knowing from day to day whether I might end up in prison, or worse, the morgue. ;-p

      • There is a reason why the popular slogan at the moment is YOLO (you only live once). Many of these kids expect to end up in prison or the morgue, and just want to enjoy themselves on the way.

        • George Larson says:

          I can understand why some kids grow up with an expectation of prison and early death, but why do I know middle class black children trying to emulate the thug life?

          • Because that is what popular culture holds up as success…..

          • Also, in schools and communities where there are both middle/upper-middle class blacks and the urban dysfunctional ones (thanks to socioeconomic integration programs), black kids who do well academically and behave well are targeted by the gangbanger wannabees as oreos and sellouts. Dressing and acting like a thug can be camoflage (since the two groups of kids are unlikely to be in the same MS-HS classes), but it’s all too likely to become real, both attitude and academics take a nosedive. I know parents who were forced to send their kids to private school to escape the poisonous influence. Despite the assertions of the social utopians that bringing kids from the inner cities to the affluent suburbs would magically turn them into well-behaved, high-achieving students, I saw no signs of same, but they sure did a number on the black kids (particularly boys) whose parents had earned the resources to buy houses in the best school districts.

          • Deirdre Mundy says:

            At my HS in the early 90s, there were ‘Asian yo-boys’ who dressed, talked, and tried to act like gangbangers… however, they didn’t let their grades get TOO low, for fear of parental crack-downs. And their peers mocked them as pathetic….

  5. This thread is dangerous, because it speaks too many truths that are not meant to be spoken. Just being on this thread may get us all put on a government watch list… “Possible racist. TSA should scrutinize when getting on any plane, train, or boat.”

  6. Florida resident says:


    I have not read the study myself.
    How about camparing them with white non-ispanic part of US population ?
    How about comparing them with kids of Chinese or Korean immigrants ?

    Respectfully submitted by F.r.

  7. Florida resident says:

    I tried to cite this:
    The children of black immigrants from Africa, the Caribbean, and Latin America are well-prepared for school and well-behaved in the classroom, compared to their native-born black classmates and children born to Hispanic immigrants..

    Sorry for the typo: should be “comparing”