Bridging the Gap Between African Refugee Parents and K-12 Teachers: Expanding the Meaning of School Diversity

  • Wangari GichiruEmail author
Part of the Education, Equity, Economy book series (EEEC, volume 7)


This chapter explores ways to bridge the gap between African refugee parents and US American teachers and expands the meaning of family diversity in K-12 school contexts in the United States (U.S.). Using phenomenology as the research methodology, the chapter is framed by the notion of cultural capital as coined by Bordeaux and applied by Lareau. Participants comprised 16 African refugee parents resettled in the mid-West and teachers from public schools attended by newly arrived African refugee children. The study aimed at understanding how African refugees families experience public schools in the U.S. so that families and schools might work together in bridging the gap between them. Findings indicate African refugee families complicate the notion of diversity, which goes beyond race, ethnicity, class, and gender to include differences in perceptions of family structures, interactions and processes as well. Differences in expectations in the role families play in their children’s education, the role that teachers play in assisting children with school work, and the role of schools in resettling parents and children into school culture add to the gap between African families and public schools. This chapter contends that with increasing diversity in public schools that now include refugees from various parts of the world, there is a critical need for the teaching community to develop nuanced dispositions and understandings of family which goes a long way in providing equitable educational opportunities for all students.


Diversity Teachers Parental involvement Teacher expectations Family Refugees 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Educational Leadership, Policy & Instructional TechnologyCentral Connecticut State UniversityNew BritainUSA

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