Graduation Year

2008

Document Type

Ed. Specalist

Degree

Ed.S.

Degree Granting Department

Psychological and Social Foundations

Major Professor

Michael J. Curtis, Ph.D.

Keywords

Home-school communication, Parent involvement, Immigrant families, Cultural-ecological theory, English-speaking Caribbean

Abstract

The purpose of this exploratory study was to examine the understandings and perceptions that West Indian parents and caregivers residing in the U.S. have about U.S. public schools. A second purpose of this study was to examine the consistency between these findings and the cultural-ecological theory advanced by Ogbu (1974) which posits that immigrant minorities to the U.S. hold different perceptions and expectations in relation to U.S. schools. Using interviews with 13 families in the Tampa Bay area, the study examined West Indian parents' and caregivers' understanding of the American public schooling process, expectations for education, role beliefs, and roles they played in their children's schooling. Several themes emerged from the interviews regarding these areas. These themes included: families viewed education in very instrumental ways (a finding that aligned with Ogbu's cultural-ecological theory), families had overwhelmingly positive perceptions of resources and opportunities offered by U.S. public schools, and most families were satisfied with the home-school relationship. A minority of families described negative relationships with schools. In addition, families reported that they believed school-based involvement was important. However, they reported very low levels of school-based involvement, but high levels of home-based involvement. Obstacles to parent involvement included logistical barriers, and lack of familiarity with the U.S. school system. Implications of the findings for school personnel are discussed and suggestions for further research are offered.

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