Southeast Asian Refugee Parents: An Inquiry Into Home-School Communication and Understanding
Blakely, Mary M.
Arlington, VA: American Anthropological Association
Anthropology and Education Quarterly 14 1, 1983 Spring, 43-68 pages
Outlines the relationship between the school system and 32 families of Southeast Asian immigrant students in a middle-class Oregon town during the early 1980s. Background information on the Laotian, Cambodian, and Vietnamese immigrants is provided, as well as the current housing and employment information for the families. Home-to-school communication initially is conducted at first via family sponsors; then gradually the families develop their own informal communication network via word-of-mouth. Older children are often required to read and answer the written notices from the school. Public announcements (such as school registration announcements, immunization deadlines, bus schedules, holidays, and winter weather conditions) often are ignored by the immigrant population who do not read the newspaper or listen to news on the radio or television. Parental involvement at the schools is difficult and teachers express frustration when immigrant parents fail to attend conferences. The children do not bring schoolwork home for parents to see, and homework policies are not universally enforced for this student population. The immigrant parents indicate extremely positive opinions about their children's education and are pleased with the high quality of the teachers and facilities, enjoy the small-town atmosphere, and experience an overall sense of child safety. A bilingual program was instituted for several years at the elementary and junior high school levels, but most immigrant parents want to maintain focus on English language instruction and did not favor native language instruction.
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