20 / 2004
Mirjam Milharčič-Hladnik


The text is based on the interviews with Slovenian immigrant mothers, teachers and experts and with a principal and a teacher of English as a second language in New York City, Cleveland, Ohio and Washington D.C., conducted in spring 2004. That was a field work for the research project »Equity in educational systems – a comparative study«, which also focuses on equity concerning ethnicity in USA, Sweden, Australia and of course, Slovenia. Experiences of Slovenian immigrants in these countries are of utmost interest as is the historical context of their narratives. I have chosen the period after 1960 since it is the time of crucial social and political changes in the U.S.A, which brought multiculturalism into schools and new ethnicities on the streets. The interviewees are describing the differences that started after 1970. in regard to the ethnic origins of students in school. For a century, the general goals of public schooling were assimilation and acculturation and that started to change. First, there were radical projects and cultural wars among those who wanted public schooling more ethnic oriented and the opponents who insisted that school had to provide the same, civic education for all future citizens of the U.S.A. The interviewees have had in general very good experiences with the American schools from Pre-K to the High School level. They stressed the fact that in the period after 1970 they felt positive attitude concerning ethnic, religious and cultural differences of students and they praised the special attention that was given to those with English as a second language. The experiences of Slovenian immigrants of this period are very positive also because as educated, white and culturally »compatible« people, they were most welcomed by the host country and did not face many problems in general.