20 SES 17, Inclusion, Interculturality and Refugees: Approaches and didactics
Within the context of school improvement and educational research, I study the integration of displaced students in public schools. As refugee families arrive in a host country through resettlement, education represents a gateway to a new life (Bal & Arzubiaga, 2014). School leaders devise ways to support campus culture and integrate students through partnerships with communities and local agencies (Duffy & Gallagher, 2017). This study focuses on how school leaders develop intercultural practices to support refugee students. These practices represent an important aspect for systems that promote the integration of refugee students (Taylor & Sidhu, 2012; Tyrer & Fazel, 2014). Education in Europe and the U.S. entails contrasting experiences for displaced people, such as refugees and asylum-seekers. In this regard, I plan to investigate policies and programs for displaced students as they attend and integrate into public schools.
For this study, I devise a conceptual framework that investigates the role of schools and educational leaders in this process of student integration. Through this framework, I investigate the ways in which intercultural exchanges affect and respond to students’ social and cultural wealth. Innovative school programs have instituted an intercultural approach to support refugee integration (Moskal & North, 2017). This framework relies upon the ontological perspective that every individual possesses knowledge and cultural wealth. For Bourdieu & Passeron (1990), the student arrives in the school environment with cultural wealth, which, in turn, develops into scholastic wealth through education. In contrast, Yosso (2005) argued that the concept of cultural capital creates inherent inequities, since people not of the dominant society, e.g., People of Color, marginalized youth, displaced students, lack cultural know-how to negotiate the social systems.
While Yosso developed this analysis within the context of critical race theory, this conceptual framework invokes variances in cultural wealth as a focal point in the analysis of school integration. This lens infuses Yosso’s approach as it considers the inclusion of social and cultural wealth of every student. At times, schools as institutions instigate a form of subtractive assimilation, which purposefully ignores cultural wealth (Valenzuela, 1999). Most programs for refugees integrate themes of acculturation, which McBrien (2005) defined as the change in one cultural group upon interacting with a more dominant group. This framework ascertains that students access cultural wealth to participate and strengthen their own cultural identities through both school and community support to offset pressures of acculturation (Varenne & McDermott, 1999; Yosso, 2005). This insight provides an epistemological link to the capacity for displaced students to engage their cultural and knowledge resources in schools through participation and community involvement.
The following research questions guide this study:
- How do school policies and practices support the integration of refugee students?
- How do school leaders develop and monitor culturally responsive practices?
- How do school leaders incorporate cultural experiences of refugee students into campus-based practices?
- How do school and community leaders promote an intercultural approach to education that encourages dialogue and mutual respect among all stakeholders?
- How do school and community leaders define and measure program effectiveness?
Schools represent the places where learning and discovery occur for youth and adolescents, as these institutions prepare students for social participation. Displaced students face the challenge of assimilating into school cultures. The school remains a first place for social interaction. Often schools fail to provide quality education to refugees, and refugee resettlement has led to both social and cultural inequities (Capps et al., 2015; Pinson & Arnot, 2007). The objectives of this research project focus on intercultural efforts by school and community leaders, through both campus-based change efforts and partnerships with stakeholders, to provide more equitable spaces for learning and interaction.
This research study uses a multi-sited ethnography to examine the experience of school and community leaders in the U.S. and the Netherlands. Over the last two years, I have carried out research at schools in central Texas. I have noticed an increase in the collaboration between schools and local organizations to support refugee integration. As part of the multi-sited study, I am conducting research at schools and partner organizations in The Netherlands. The migration of millions of people across the Mediterranean and Europe has created emergency relief situations beyond the capacity of the UNHCR and other organizations (CSCE, 2016; Esses, Hamilton, & Gaucher, 2017; LSE, 2016; UNHCR 2016). The Dutch experience is significant for my study because local organizations collaborate with schools to support refugee integration. These partnerships are in a nascent stage in Central Texas, and findings from The Netherlands can determine how the partnerships promote refugee integration. The study design for this research employs a methodology that analyzes a subject existing in different locales through a relational analysis of observations and data collection (Marcus, 1995). The multi-sited ethnography examines the conflation of apparent systems within the complex sociocultural environment; Marcus (1995) referred to this environment as the lifeworld, representing contiguous social and cultural realities. A defining principle of this approach involves the repositioning of that which is researched, since the subject itself exists in diverse contexts and dynamics (Marcus, 1995; Pierides, 2010). I chose this approach to show how leaders devise programs to promote the integration of refugee students, who face much different acculturation patterns than those encountered by immigrants of similar backgrounds (Lazarevic, Wiley, & Pleck, 2012). I will collect data through archival research, observations, and interviews with educators and community leaders working with refugee students. I will also use descriptive statistics to analyze school survey data, enrollment, and attendance for orientation programs. Since I will participate in the ethnography, my own perspective will influence the process of conducting research and interpreting meaning in aspects of this study (Vagle, 2009). The feedback of participants provides ways to formulate constructive responses to support refugee integration (Brown & Stega, 2005). Through the research, I will follow trends that arise as the subject of the study emerges across diverse sites and settings. This study examines how school leadership supports refugee integration, and the findings will offer insight for similar initiatives across Europe, the U.S., and other parts of the world.
This proposal considers the efforts of school leaders to develop policies and programs fostering refugee student integration. Educational leaders devise campus-based strategies promoting diversity, cultural responsiveness, and inclusion within the school culture. Campus leaders support the integration of refugee students through equitable, culturally responsive practices. The inclusion of intercultural aspects in school-based programs promotes refugee integration in both the school and greater community. With the increase in refugee students, educational leadership benefits from strategies to enact programs that are situated in intercultural practices (Moskal & North, 2017), which integrate students while respecting their cultural experiences. The issues affecting the lives of refugee students include factors that extend beyond political, economic, and social concerns (Alba & Holdaway, 2013). Through this research, I use a multi-sited ethnographic approach to study systems of refugee integration in school environments. I investigate how educational leaders promote refugee integration through inclusive practices and campus-based systems that instill an intercultural approach to learning and community development. Findings from this research allow school leaders to comprehend how efforts at school improvement are related to cultural exchange and collaboration with community partners. The findings from this study inform research for school programs for refugee students as well as other newcomers. The results of this project provide insights into the development of a diverse campus culture. This research provides supporting data on sites and initiatives supporting both school and community programs. In this way, this research explores the way in which satisfaction with and participation in campus and community support programs possibly predict integration into the school community. As this study investigates how school leaders establish partnerships with community organizations to develop, implement, and monitor initiatives, such as vocational training or general orientation, for refugee families, the results of this research have implications in both school leadership and community development.
Alba, R. & Holdaway, J. (2013). The integration imperative: Introduction. In R. Alba and J. Holdaway (Eds.), The children of Immigrants at school: A comparative look at integration in the United States and Western Europe (pp. 1-38). New York: New York University Press. Bal, A., & Arzubiaga, A. E. (2014). Ahıska Refugee Families' Configuration of Resettlement and Academic Success in U.S. Schools. Urban Education, 49(6), 635-665. https://doi.org/10.1177/0042085913481363 Bourdieu, P. & Passeron, J. (1990). Reproduction in Education, Society and Culture. London, UK: Sage Publications. Brown, L. & S. Strega, S. (2005). Research as resistance: Critical, indigenous, and anti-oppressive approaches. Toronto, ON: Canadian Scholars' Press/Women's Press. Esses, V. M., Hamilton, L. K., & Gaucher, D. (2017). The Global Refugee Crisis: Empirical Evidence and Policy Implications for Improving Public Attitudes and Facilitating Refugee Resettlement. Social Issues & Policy Review, 11(1), 78-123. Lazarevic, V., Wiley, A., & Pleck, J. H. (2012). Associations of Acculturation with Family and Individual Well-being in Serbian Refugee Young Adults in the United States. Journal of Comparative Family Studies, 43(2), 217-236. Marcus, G. (1995). Ethnography in/of the World System: The Emergence of Multi-Sited Ethnography. Annual Review of Anthropology, 24(1), 95-117. McBrien, J. (2005). Educational Needs and Barriers for Refugee Students in the United States: A Review of the Literature. Review of Educational Research, 75(3), 329-364. Moskal, M., & North, A. (2017). Equity in Education for/with Refugees and Migrants-Toward a Solidarity Promoting Interculturalism. European Education, 49(2/3), 105. https://doi.org/10.1080/10564934.2017.1343088 Pierides, D. (2010). Multi-sited ethnography and the field of educational research. Critical Studies in Education, 51(2), 179-195. https://doi.org/10.1080/17508481003731059 Pinson, H. & Arnot, M. (2007). Sociology of education and the wasteland of refugee education research. British Journal of Sociology of Education, 28(3), 399-407. Taylor, S., & Sidhu, R. K. (2012). Supporting refugee students in schools: what constitutes inclusive education? International Journal of Inclusive Education, 16(1), 39-56. https://doi.org/10.1080/13603110903560085 Tyrer, R. A., & Fazel, M. (2014). School and community-based interventions for refugee and asylum seeking children: A systematic review. PLoS One, 9(2), e89359. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0089359 Varenne, H., & McDermott, R. (1999). Successful failure: The school America builds. Oxford, UK: Westview Press. Yosso, T. (2005). Whose culture has capital? A critical race theory discussion of community cultural wealth. Race Ethnicity and Education, 8(1), 69-91.
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