Date of Award

8-2012

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Department

Executive Leadership

First Supervisor

Marie Cianca

Second Supervisor

Susan H. Hildebrand

Abstract

Using Coleman’s (1987) social capital theory as a framework, this study examined the perceptions of refugee parents and school staff regarding the schooling and education of refugee children in a large upstate New York school district. The study specifically examined the perceptions of refugee parents and school staff prior to their participation in a family literacy program (FLP) and their perceptions as a result of participation in the program. This qualitative study used a descriptive research design based on data collected during observations, focus groups and in-depth interviews with refugee parents and teachers as well as the school principal. The study identified changes as a result of participation in the FLP with a small group of refugees and classrooms teachers. The study also identified connections between the amount of social capital refugee parents gained and their level of involvement in their children’s education. Consistent with Epstein’s (1992, 1995, 2001) typology, the results of the research findings suggest that multiple dimensions exist in refugee parents’ involvement in their children’s education. The study underscores the importance of programs that address the needs of refugee families and how these programs can lead to more collaborative and successful home-school partnerships. The findings also suggest that more targeted professional development would better prepare educational leaders to bridge the gap between schools and refugee families during resettlement. Positive forms of social capital can be generated when a genuine partnership based upon respect and a shared sense of responsibility exists between school and parents.

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