By the Numbers: How the Immigration Tsunami Is Overwhelming Our Schools

Female High School Teacher Taking ClassForcing schools to educate the children of legal and illegal immigrants amounts to the greatest unfunded mandate that the federal government has ever placed on the states.

With schools straining to provide for an influx of new students, the need for new teachers to serve the growing Limited English Proficiency student population represents a massive potential taxpayer outlay that will keep school districts scrambling to balance their budgets for years.

Since 2009, the Border Patrol has apprehended 242,354 Unaccompanied Alien Minors, around 98 percent of whom came from Mexico, El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala. And they keep on coming: more than 20,000 between October 1, 2015 and January 31, 2016. Along with other illegal alien minors, they are able to attend public schools at no cost and without fear of reprisal, thanks to the 1982 Plyler v. Doe Supreme Court decision.

Over the next five years, local districts nationwide will have to find an extra $4.8 billion to hire the 82,408 additional teachers that the National Center for English Language Acquisition projects will be required to serve this population – if they can find them. Around 10 percent of all public school students are in LEP programs, but only 1 percent of all teachers are certified in English as a Second Language. Several states grant teaching and other licenses to illegal aliens and justify the policy by noting the teacher shortage.

Right now, local school districts spend $21.5 billion on the salaries and benefits of 346,776 LEP teachers. None of these figures include supplies, administration, building maintenance or other costs borne by taxpayers. In fact, the State of Maryland and the Government Accountability Office calculated that it could cost twice as much to educate LEP students than other pupils.

Though the burden to hire teachers falls primarily on state and local governments, the federal government spent $637 million in 2013-2014 on Title III programs to provide language instruction to students with limited English skills.

But the sad fact is that despite all of the resources provided to LEP students, there is little to show for it. These students have demonstrated limited progress in all subject areas, not just language, and they may be affecting the performance of non-LEP pupils.

Educators measure four categories of achievement: Below Basic, Basic, Proficient and Advanced. Nationally, in 2015, more than two-thirds of LEP students demonstrated Below Basic skills and 24 percent acquired Basic skills. Only 7 percent of fourth grade LEP students performed at the Proficient level and 1 percent performed Advanced level work.

In comparison, 40 percent of non-LEP fourth graders perform at the two highest levels, Proficient and Advanced, with one-third displaying Basic skills. The rest, 27 percent, achieve at Below Basic level. In other words, even though non-LEP students perform better than their LEP counterparts, more than half of them are only managing Basic or Below Basic work.

For eighth grade LEP students last year, the numbers are also striking: 71 percent have Below Basic skills, one quarter score at the Basic level and only 4 percent are Proficient. The statistic for the Advanced level rounds out to zero. The results for 12th grade LEP students in 2013 (the last year statistics are available) are even worse: a full 80 percent demonstrate Below Basic skills. The remaining 20 percent performs at the Basic level.

The percentage of LEP students who graduate on time, moreover, is appalling: 39 percent in New York, 24 percent in Nevada and just 20 percent in Arizona. Other states have higher rates, but just because someone graduates there is no way to determine if he or she met rigorous standards. And, of course, school systems continue to pay for students who stay in high school longer than four years.

And clearly, non-LEP students are also sinking, according to the latest figures. The percentage of eighth graders that score Proficient or above in every subject is abysmally low: just 18 percent in United States history, 27 percent in geography, 27 percent in writing and 33 percent in math.

As colleges across the country sound the alarm about ever-increasing numbers of students who are unprepared for academia, the public school system is failing all constituents, not just LEP pupils. In the future, it will cost hardworking Americans more to achieve such mediocrity.

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Content written by Federation for American Immigration Reform staff.


  1. avatar
    Raul Allegre on

    What’s obvious to everyone but the PC crowd is illegals aren’t just like us. They’re poor, they have no skills, they are illiterate in Spanish and English, they have no education and their culture does not stress the importance of education. Put that all together and you have a real problem for our schools. You can’t just throw them all into our schools along with some Spanish-proficient teachers and expect them to excel. It’ s not going to happen. Of course the stats are going to show them lagging behind no matter what we do. It should surprise no one.

  2. avatar

    This message needs to be widely communicated! The impact to American children is terrifying. The costs of this alone is enough to justify spending $10B on Trump’s wall that the media mocks as it will have a ROI within 2-3 years! America’s schools, local budgets, and labor forces cannot afford to be dragged down by massive immigration from third world nations.

  3. avatar
    Janice Killian on

    The people who come here legally , have to know English and We Welcome Them- to America,, but the ones who cross our borders illegally are law breakers to begin with and are the problem. They want us to SPEAK their Language, obey their laws , let them fly their flag, and become the Country that they are running away from. Then after they win and destroy America , what are they planning on doing?

    • avatar

      As most of us are aware, the plan of many of the Progressives is to ‘dumb down’ the general population by providing little to no real education in public schools. The focus of this is: #1 that it is easier to propagandize those who have little education, #2 low education folks are more likely to end up on welfare and those on welfare are more likely to vote Democrat. Secondary focus of this is that immigrants in general are more likely to vote Democrat as the progressives promise to give them more stuff, welfare, free schooling, health care, etc.
      Thus the overall goal is to create a large majority of Democrat voters and eliminate conservative politicians, thus leaving the progressives as the ruling class.

  4. avatar

    I seem to remember hearing that when many immigrants from Asia were coming into the state of Washington, the children were put into an English immersion class. There were so many different languages and dialects that it would have been prohibitive to find that many different teachers. I say this is what we must do as things are getting out of control and children are not receiving the attention they all need.

    • avatar
      Barbara Ortega on

      When immigrants came here LEGALLY, one of the requirements was they learn English to become citizens.. and as far as I know, it is still a requirement.. BUT most of these Hispanic illegals do NOT want to be citizens and they do NOT want to learn English.. they want US to learn Spanish and cater to them.. Our government caters to them by printing documents in their language, the taxpayers pay for translators if they go to court, etc… so WHY should they learn English…

      • avatar
        Leonard Chapman on

        You are right, in my area of California, we are swamed by hispanics, and all the schools have poor graduation numbers.

  5. avatar

    Democrats have created this problem. Stupid, Ignorant, Lazy, Lying POS morons called Democrats. I just wonder how these fcking morons will enjoy the world they voted for?

    • avatar

      While the Democrats are certainly blinded by excessive political correctness, both parties are in favor of lots of cheap labor, as this keeps wages down for the corporate donors, while costs (like schooling – and many other things) are borne by taxpayers. Nice arrangement!

      • avatar

        Don’t see how the republicans can be in favor of the illegals since for the most part all vote democrat unless they are in favor of their party dissolving.

        • avatar

          Those Repubs who are controlled by big business campaign donations, by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and such (like McConnell) all campaign saying they are conservative but then support the illegals and H-1B’s because they provide cheap labor. They don’t care who the illegals vote for as long as they stay in power or know that they have guaranteed high paying jobs as lobbyists if they get voted out. It is a sewer of corruption in the D.C. culture.

  6. avatar
    Robert McManus on

    It’s coman knowledge this is happening but the important question is what is being done to stop this. Any politician who allows this to happen should be removed from office. There needs to be an organization maned by American citizen that can orchestrate a movement to cease the funding for this and start impeachment proceedings for those who continue to support this idiotic program.

    • avatar
      Barbara Ortega on

      They are doing NOTHING to stop it… they continue to make excuses instead of ENFORCING our laws… they tell the people the system is broken, when IN FACT the Politicians are what is broken.. they are lawless and IGNORE our laws, allowing for millions and millions of illegal aliens to flood this country while WE foot the bill…
      our corrupt and lawless government continues to hold these illegals above the welfare and safety of the citizens… our citizenship anymore, is a liability for us citizans

      • avatar

        About the only hope we have is to vote for Ted Cruz. Even Trump would probably improve the situation. Both Hillary and Bernie have promised to do more of the same if they get elected.

        • avatar

          In 2014, Ted Cruz was in McAllen, Texas with Glen Beck handing out teddy bears and soccer balls to the children of the illegals as they came over the border. They hosted an all day event for the illegals giving them all sorts of freebies and ending with a barbeque. Even though I live in Texas, I will not vote for Cruz
          He is just another lifetime politician and will sell us out. Like Trump says, he is lying Ted
          His first name is actually Rafael and his father is Cuban. Where do you think his loyalty really is?

  7. avatar

    Why should foreign speaking students make a real effort to read, write and speak English…..Why should they? Their illegal foreign speaking alien parents speak in their foreign tongue at home so that’s what he kids will automatically do. No one at home to practice using English with.

      • avatar
        Barbara Ortega on

        Leland, if we continue to allow these illegals to flood this country, it will NO longer be an English speaking country.. the Hispanics are trying to get the language officially to Spanish… our government allows these illegals to flood this country unstopped … one of the requirements for coming here legally and becoming a citizen is to learn English… coming here illegally, they don’t have that same requirement placed on them and our government does NOTHING to stop the flood of them coming… in fact, our government ENCOURAGES them to continue flooding this country by all the freebies they get handed when they are here…. they should get NOTHING but Emergency medical if needed and deported IMMEDIATELY… I’m sick of supporting these illegal aliens…

    • avatar
      Diane anglin on

      They should make an effort because to be financially successful in this country you need to be able to speak English.

      • avatar
        Barbara Ortega on

        not quite so much anymore… they would make an effort to learn English if our government would QUIT catering to them and printing the documents in their language and stop paying for translators for them when they show up in court or anywhere else… Where is the incentive to learn English…??? there are so many Hispanic illegal aliens in this country, if they start a business in an area that is a huge population of the illegals and legal Hispanics, they will do fine…
        our government does nothing to make it necessary for them to learn English.. we cater to them in their language… and once again… as always.. the citizens get screwed…

        Our citizenship has become a liability to us anymore

    • avatar
      Barbara Ortega on

      our government ALSO caters to them by printing documents in their language (mostly the Hispanics) and when they show up in court for traffic violation and anything else, WE pay the bill for a translator… we cater to them so why should they learn English… we need to force them to learn English and we need to force them to pay for their own translator… I’m fed up with footing the bill with our tax dollars to support illegal aliens…

  8. avatar

    Bottom line is that we are spending twice as much to “educate” non English speaking students as we are spending on English speaking students. For that huge extra expense, we are getting educational achievements that are far below those of the English speaking students. Colleges are not only sounding “the alarm” about unprepared students, but many colleges have “remedial” classes because large numbers of students are woefully short of basic proficiency. This is unprecedented in our history.

    BTW, this is another of the areas where “advocates” continue to falsely rhapsodize about our “history of immigration”. The facts are that most students a hundred years ago did not even finish high school. They went to school to learn enough to get the basics because most jobs then were unskilled, including a large percentage who were farmers. We spend huge sums now and don’t even have students as educated as those who went through 6th grade decades ago.

    And there was no teaching in two languages. It was English only, which has been proven repeatedly to be the best way to teach. We are “graduating” students who have an appalling command of English and spelling. I once had an online discussion with a young man who could barely write a sentence. When I pointed that out, he blamed it on high school teachers who he didn’t like. I said I had teachers I didn’t like but it was my job to learn the subject.

    • avatar

      Baby Boomers Made Up the Same Size Classes in Public Schools as Today

      But had half the teaching staff in Seattle in the 70s, but taught math and science adequately [the math and science teachers actually had BSs in math and science]and almost everyone got a diploma…..there was extra money for study halls to help failing students pass…, no study hall money and I asked Phoenix Academy what their high school graduation rate was [without decrepit 9th grade level GEDs]….it was 20%. HORRIFYING!

      I don’t blame the kids for our dismal education system….I blame it on hopelessness for our next generation with this OVERPOPULATION ATTACK on America. I’d be playing apocalypse video games and iPhone texting all day if I was them too.

      • avatar
        Barbara Ortega on

        And back then also, people who came here made an effort to learn English.. today they don’t want to learn English… THEY want YOU to learn their language… my friend works at Walmart and she said these illegals come in and are rude.. they will snap their fingers at you wanting you to come immediately and wait on them.. this one illegal told my friend that she needed to learn Spanish.. my friend told her, “NO, you are in MY country, you need to learn English!”
        we continue to bend over backwards to cater to these people instead of standing our ground and informing them that they WILL learn English… but our government prints all their documents in Spanish, we pay for translators for them, etc.. WHAT incentive do they have to learn English when we cater to them in their language. No reason to learn English…
        our American citizen children are suffering in our schools because of it… back when I was in school.. many years ago.. a Cuban girl came into my Geography class and spoke no English… the teacher handed me an English-Spanish Dictionary and asked me to help her…. so with that dictionary, the two of us worked together so she could learn.

      • avatar

        SWE I do blame our kids for being lazy and non self-driven…I have seen it with my own eyes when I taught math at the university……pitiful!!!

      • avatar
        Barbara Ortega on

        You are exactly right!! so they will stoop to anything to stop Trump from winning… the career politicians want to **** on to their gravy train and their power over us… How many years has it been and NOT ONE politician has made an effort to STOP illegal immigration… THEY avoid the problem all together, but Trump brought it up when he started running.. but STILL NOT ONE Of them will REALLY do a thing to stop it… they don’t want to offend Mexico.. they care MORE about Mexico then they do the American Citizens…

        • avatar

          I’ve always said that some American politicians should be required to register as lobbyists for Mexico, because all they do is look out for their interests over ours.

    • avatar
      Barbara Ortega on

      exactly.. Because of these non-English speaking students and the teachers trying to teach everyone as they are, our English speaking students are suffering in class… we’ve had teachers in Texas who have lost their jobs because they don’t speak Spanish.. we are bending over backwards to take care of people who have NO right to be in our country so we not only have students suffering… we have teachers who are also suffering because of our incompetent, corrupt and lawless government

      • avatar

        OK let’s start with you….you have a hispanic and probably form Mexico last name………how about you?