Year of Publication



Martin School of Public Policy and Administration

Executive Summary

Migrant laborers and their families have historically faced, and continue to face, major barriers in their education. The migrant population is, according to Dr. Michael Romanowski, “the most undereducated major subgroup in the United States” (Romanowski, 2003). The lack of educational attainment among migrant families can be attributed to numerous factors: above all, the disruptive migratory lifestyle of seasonal agricultural workers (Rosenthal & Banz-Spall, 2003), but also to socioeconomic burdens, mental and physical health issues, and more recently, linguistic and cultural barriers.

The Migrant Education Program is a supplemental federal program that was created under Title 1 Part C of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act to remediate the negative effects of the migratory lifestyle and to allow educational opportunities to migrant workers and their children ( U.S. Department of Education, 2004). A migrant is identified as a family or individual who has completed a move seeking work in agriculture. While this definition has

In the early 00s, the Office of Migrant Education conducted nationwide assessments of enrollment practices and found that many school districts were using extremely loose definitions for Migrant Education Program participants. As a result, numerous programs decreased considerably in size nationwide, and enrollment overall decreased by about a third. In Kentucky, this significant change in student enrollment was coupled with changes in agriculture, demographics of migrant workers, and an increase in the use of the H2A Program.

While most research on migrants has investigated the problems that migrant students face inside and outside of the classroom, virtually no analysis has been done on the local factors that influence enrollment. This paper analyzes local agricultural factors in Kentucky following the policy change in the early 00s, to see if the policy changes made for a more predictive growth in areas where there is a need for labor intensive agriculture.