The reality of many migrant farmworker children this time of year is to transfer schools as they and their families move across the state or region, seeking seasonal work in the fields.  Of course, though most schools are closed right now, the process normally involves unenrolling from one school and then enrolling in a different one.

Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as that last sentence makes it sound.  Different schools, not to mention different states, have their own transferring procedures, making it a very complicated process indeed.

Typically, parents and guidance counselors of both old and new schools get involved with ushering students through this transfer process, since it involves submitting applications, transfer requests, and a multitude of forms e.g. proof of residency, medical forms, and transcripts from your current school.  All of these need to be submitted by a parent/guardian if you are younger than 18 years of age.  Unfortunately, some reasons for a transfer request are more apt to be approved than others, so there’s no guarantee that the student’s request will even be granted.


School transfers are often so complicated, many children don’t bother enrolling in the new school but opt instead to join their parents in the fields.


Transfers take time – anywhere from weeks to months – requiring students to continue attending their current school before the transfer is complete.  Once approval has been granted, there will be placement tests and meetings with academic advisers to help a student plan their schedule.  This is important when transferring schools out of the state, since credits don’t always transfer, requiring make-up work.  Lack of credit transfers may cause a delay in completion and graduation dates, potentially affecting one’s GPA.

As scary as it sounds, if a student prepares and starts working early on with their advisers and teachers at the new school to develop a game plan on what classes to take, the transfer process can be smooth and the student will be prepared to succeed.

14-year-old Olivia harvests onions in the fields.


Regrettably, this is not the experience of many of our farmworker youth when they transfer schools.  For a large number of them, transfers are not a one-time occurrence or a strategic move.  Rather, it’s usually an abrupt move to a new area in a different state, not to mention school district.  Paperwork is often an afterthought if a thought at all, so advisors are unprepared and uninformed of the challenges our farmworker youth could be facing.  Add to that the likelihood of another impending transfer before all matters have even been resolved, and you can well imagine why many farmworker kids don’t bother enrolling in a new school at all.  Rather, they may opt to go to the fields with their parents to avoid the entire hassle.  Unfortunately, this approach could ultimately harm their chances of graduating.

For these reasons and more, AFOP’s Children in the Fields Campaign works to elevate the voices of our farmworker youth.  Everyone needs to hear the stories of their struggles but also of their hard-won successes.  By educating the world one individual at a time, we hope the word will spread about how wonderful farmworker children really are.


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