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By Merle Bertrand | March 26, 2002

What happens to their kids when migrant workers migrate? A question you never really considered either? Good. Now I don’t feel so bad. For if it’s hard enough for the average American kid to drag his or her lazy butt out of bed and get to high school five days a week, imagine what it would be like to have to do that, knowing that you’re going to switch schools five or six times during a given school year.
That’s the plight Liliana Luis — and tens of thousands of other children of migrant workers — faces every single year. Director Hannah Weyer’s documentary “Escuela” (“School”), examines the Luis family, in essence turning them into a case study of the problems migrant workers’ families face when it comes to getting the education their kids need to escape the fields.
The film stays remarkably non-judgmental. Not so surprising when it comes to the Luises, perhaps. But even the “system” emerges relatively unscathed. Yes, the film says it’s unfortunate that children like Liliana have to move around so much that they make Army brats seem sedentary by comparison. But as kids have almost always had to go to school rather than having the school come to them, “Escuela” seems content to point out the inequities in such a system, without offering much in the way of a solution.
Maybe that’s enough for now; that just shining a light on a little considered problem is an important first step in getting that problem corrected. Because let’s face it. Before I saw “Escuela,” the trials and tribulations of migrant workers’ kids trying to stay in school wasn’t exactly on my Top Ten World Problems list. Still isn’t, to tell you the truth, but at least now, it’s a problem that’s on the radar.

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