Sunday, April 30, 2017
Written by Peter Balonon-Rosen for Wyfi Indianapolis:
Alex Rodriguez dials an unfamiliar number on his cell phone.
“Yes?,” a voice on the other end answers. On speakerphone, the phone booms inside Rodriguez’s parked silver Ford Escape.
“This is Alex,” Rodriguez says. “I’m on the way to your home so that I can complete the enrollment for the kids.”
An estimated 3 million migrant workers travel the nation each year, following work. Depending on the season, Indiana farms employ between 2,000 and 20,000. And like anyone in the nation under 22, migrant workers and children are entitled by law to an education.
And that’s where Rodriguez comes in. He serves Indiana’s southwest region as one of Indiana’s six migrant education recruiters. His mission is simple: Find, recruit and enroll migrant children and workers for public school services.
Today he sets out from a Wal-Mart parking lot in Vincennes. It’s the closest thing he has to an office.
He often parks here and finds prospective students. After all, he says, everyone comes to Wal-Mart.
“Just a minute ago, there was a bus full of migrant workers from Mexico,” Rodriguez says with a laugh, as he pulls away. “I didn’t know they were here.”
The Indiana Department of Education runs a program specifically aimed at educating migrant workers and children. It operates across the state. Anyone under 22 qualifies for the public service if they or their family has moved for seasonal field or farm work. Regardless of citizenship.
“If it’s a youth 18 or older, maybe by themselves or a group of them, I usually think about English classes and some vocational programs that we have,” Rodriguez says. “If it’s a family I think about the program for the kids.”
To actually enroll children means tracking people down.
Read more here.