26 SES 02 A, Challenges Surrounding Inclusion, Migration and Refugees - The Educational Leadership Context
This exploratory, comparative study examines the leadership challenges associated with a great influx of refugees with respect to the relationship between schools and communities in two different contexts—the US and Sweden. Our study focuses on two small, rural communities in northern Sweden and one rural community in northern Vermont, all of which have recently experienced unprecedented numbers of refugees. Prior to the arrival of the refugee families, all three communities reflected a relatively stable demographic composition with respect to race and ethnicity. All of these communities were unused to dealing with the complexity of federal and state immigration policies and practices associated with the unprecedented numbers of refugee arrivals. Our study examines the responses of local educators – school leaders and teachers - and community members to the presence of teenage refugees and the extent to which they have worked together to respond to these needs.
This is a situation that many communities in Europe and over the world can recognize, since migration and refugees are global issues that are ultimately handled at the local level. While politicians around the world engage in military action and diplomacy to resolve the issues that have created the current humanitarian crisis, the new challenges on a country level are to create policy and laws to regulate the education and care of the refugees. On a more practical level, it’s a challenge for school districts, principals and teachers to cope with the new arrivals, many of whom are unaccompanied refugee children (Wimelius, M.; Eriksson, M.’ Isaksson, J. & M. Ghazinour, 2017.
Our research questions focus on how school leaders and teachers do policy enactment in new and challenging situations (Ball, S., Maguire, M. and Braun, A. (2011). Although both Sweden and the United States are experiencing a rise in antirefugee sentiment, Sweden, together with Germany, is a leader in Europe with respect to welcoming and resettling refugees ( Nilsson, J & Bunar, N. (2015); Norberg, K 2017). Within the United States, Vermont has also earned praise for its reception and resettlement of refugees (Danitz Pache, 2017).
Our exploratory study draws on social ecological systems theory (Bronfenbrenner, 1979; Paat, 2013) to identify the various entities involved in the education of refugees. In addition to using social ecological systems in analyzing the interactions between these groups and the schools, we draw on the typology of school-community interaction (Casto, Sipple, & McCabe, 2016), and the framework for school-community linkages (Johnson & Chrispeels, 2010). The purposes of our research are to: 1) describe the policies and practices related to the reception and resettlement of teenage refugees and their placement in public schools; 2) identify the various agencies that are also involved in these efforts and the extent to which they communicate with one another and the school leaders; 3) explore the ways in which the school leadership have attempted to responded to needs of teenage refugees, and the implications for the administrators, teachers, and the students themselves. This paper focuses on the leadership challenges in the enactment and communication among the stakeholders.
Our exploratory study in spring 2017 drew from a variety of data sources including: publicly available policy documents, interviews with school administrators, classroom teachers, ESLteachers, directors of local refugee resettlement agencies, field notes from school and classroom visits, and observations of educational activities. In phase one, of data analysis, interviews and field notes from each of the schools were transcribed and coded for emergent themes specific to each country. In phase two, we conducted a cross-national comparison of these themes. The two communities in the north of Sweden were selected because they had been welcoming more refugees per capita than any other Swedish municipality. Both Blacksmith town and Sami town have been losing population and both have fewer than 3.000 inhabitants. In both towns receiving refugees is considered as a way to create new jobs, and it is their hope that if the refugees get successfully integrated in the municipality and feel the possibility for inclusion in the community, they might stay and become inhabitants. In both towns there is only one Upper secondary school of about 400 pupils, which makes the refugee children highly visible in the schools. Even if the schools are small, they have been ranked high on national Swedish comparisons of student achievement. The Blacktown school has been ranked many times in the top 3 bracket. Because the towns are so small, these refugees are very evident in the neighborhood, and everyone sees their importance as new citizens as well as the benefits of the support resources they get for each refugee from the government. The challenges with these new resources are to create and use existing assets like sport facilities, libraries, after school activities in a smart way to create a meaningful context for the newcomers and to provide activities that facilitate their integration into the community. In the US example, Mountainscape, Vermont, is a town of approximately 8,000 people, roughly 4/5 of whom are classified as white. While Mountainscape School District necessarily complies with UN and U.S. federal guidelines regarding the education of refugee children and youth, it is important to note that it operates within a State Board of Education framework that is clearly supportive of refugee education.
From the perspective of social-ecological systems theory, the refugee students’ lives in both Sweden and Vermont were characterized by numerous microsystems: family, friends, peers, care providers, immigration and asylum processing systems, resettlement agencies, public schools, private schools, independent language schools, religious organizations, neighborhoods. In both locations, there were unaccompanied minors whose lives necessarily incorporated alternative and sometimes additional microsystems. At the mesosystem level, the nature and extent of communication among these microsystems was limited. The cultural, economic and political contexts in Sweden and Vermont were generally supportive of the refugees and sympathetic to their requests for asylum. An increase in anti-immigrant sentiment at the national level has, however, played a role in restricting the flow of refugees to both countries. From the school-community linkages framework (Johnson & Crispeels, 2010), the schools struggled to find “common ground” with other refugee-serving organizations regarding shared mission, goals, and roles. School leaders and teachers were confused about the processes associated with the arrival of refugees, their resettlement, and their application for asylum. They also reported a lack of knowledge about the history, cultural norms and practices of the refugee students. The relational linkages necessary for developing the trust required for productive collaboration were difficult to achieve because of the lack of communication among agencies. Although the resettlement agencies interacted directly with the school leaders when enrolling refugee students, there was no subsequent interaction with the schools. Regarding structural linkages within the schools, the refugee students tended to be separated from other students. Nonetheless, the smaller size of the schools facilitated a faster integration of refugees through sports and other extra-curricular activities. We also found that administrators, teachers and sport leaders were often personally interested in identifying opportunities for integrating the refugees into activities with local youth.
Ball, S., Maguire, M. and Braun, A. (2011). How Schools Do Policy: Policy Enactment in Secondary Schools. New York & London: Routledge. Bronfenbrenner, U. (1979). The ecology of human development. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. Casto, H.; Sipple, J. & L. McCabe. (2016). School-community partnering and universal prekindergarten policy. Educational Policy 30 (5), 659-687. Danitz-Pache, T. (2017). Vermont State Board of Education Approves Resolution Criticizing Trump Immigration Policies (February 25). Retrieved from: vtdigger.org. Johnson, E. & Chrispeels, J. (2010). Linking the central office and its schools for reform. Educational Administration Quarterly. 46(5), 738-775. Nilsson, J. and Bunar, N. (2015), “Educational responses to newly arrived students in sweden: understanding the structure and influence of post-migration ecology”, Scandinavian Journal of Educational Research, Vol. 60 No. 4, pp. 399-416, doi: 10.1080/00313831,2015.1024160. Norberg, K (2017) Educational leadership and im/migration: preparation, practice and policy – the Swedish case. International Journal of Educational Management, Vol 31 No 5, 2017,pp 633-645. Paat, Y. F. (2013). Working with immigrant children and their families: an application of Bronfenbrenner’s ecological systems theory. Journal of Human Behaviour in the Social Environment, 23(8), 954–966. Wimelius, M.; Eriksson, M.; Isaksson, J. & M. Ghazinour. (2017). Swedish Reception of Unaccompanied Refugee Children—Promoting Integration? Int. Migration & Integration (2017) 18: 143.
00. Central Events (Keynotes, EERA-Panel, EERJ Round Table, Invited Sessions)
Network 1. Continuing Professional Development: Learning for Individuals, Leaders, and Organisations
Network 2. Vocational Education and Training (VETNET)
Network 3. Curriculum Innovation
Network 4. Inclusive Education
Network 5. Children and Youth at Risk and Urban Education
Network 6. Open Learning: Media, Environments and Cultures
Network 7. Social Justice and Intercultural Education
Network 8. Research on Health Education
Network 9. Assessment, Evaluation, Testing and Measurement
Network 10. Teacher Education Research
Network 11. Educational Effectiveness and Quality Assurance
Network 12. LISnet - Library and Information Science Network
Network 13. Philosophy of Education
Network 14. Communities, Families and Schooling in Educational Research
Network 15. Research Partnerships in Education
Network 16. ICT in Education and Training
Network 17. Histories of Education
Network 18. Research in Sport Pedagogy
Network 19. Ethnography
Network 20. Research in Innovative Intercultural Learning Environments
Network 22. Research in Higher Education
Network 23. Policy Studies and Politics of Education
Network 24. Mathematics Education Research
Network 25. Research on Children's Rights in Education
Network 26. Educational Leadership
Network 27. Didactics – Learning and Teaching
The programme is updated regularly (each day in the morning)
- Search for keywords and phrases in "Text Search"
- Restrict in which part of the abstracts to search in "Where to search"
- Search for authors and in the respective field.
- For planning your conference attendance you may want to use the conference app, which will be issued some weeks before the conference
- If you are a session chair, best look up your chairing duties in the conference system (Conftool) or the app.