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Kids Of Migrant Farm Families Plan For College

August 2, 1990

MEADVILLE, Pa. (AP) _ A generation ago, the children of migrant farm workers rarely finished high school. Now, many are part of an education program aimed at getting them to college.

″We saw some of these kids that are talented, they have the desire, but college for them is another planet,″ sai Paula Stoup, a research specialist with the state’s Migrant Education Program.

Thirty-two migrant students gathered for four days of workshops at Allegheny College in northwestern Pennsylvania this week to discuss career goals, brush up on their writing and computer skills and improve their study habits.

The program reaches about 6,000 migrant students in about 800 schools across the state, said director Manuel Recio. It helps children who switch from school to school as their parents travel looking for work in the agriculture and fishing industries.

The students receive tutoring to help them catch up and can get help with language problems and cultural differences, he said.

Marilyn Agosto, 16, attended the program last year and returned this year to help other students. For the past four years, she has lived in Toughkenamon, a town about 20 miles west of Philadelphia. But before that, she moved 14 times because her mother works in health care for migrants.

″You get in a school and stay there a couple months and then you move to another school,″ she said. ″You get behind and your grades drop. It’s hard to get caught up.″

When the program began in the 1960s, more than 95 percent of migrant students dropped out of high school, Recio said. Now, about 60 percent fail to graduate.

″That’s still very high, but we never would have thought so many of them would get near to college,″ he said.

State lawmakers heard from migrant students during an education hearing Wednesday at the college to discuss increasing the program’s budget.

″When my father was growing up, he had no hope in life. He was on his own and there was no one to push him on to do anything,″ said Sandra Ramos, 16, from Toughkenamon. ″When I started four months ago to talk about college it shocked my family.″

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