Immigrant Parents’ Involvement in One Ontario School: a Case Study
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As Ontario is home to more than half of Canada’s immigrants (Statistics Canada, 2006), Ontario’s school enrolment is very diverse. Levin (2008) provided some statistics: 27 percent of the population of Ontario was born outside of Canada; 20 percent are visible minorities. Toronto, with approximately 40 percent of the province’s population, is one the most diverse urban areas in the world, and receives approximately 125,000 new immigrants each year from dozens of different countries. Accordingly, as the number of immigrant families in Toronto increases, it is increasingly important that teachers and administrators understand how immigrant parents want to be involved in their children’s education, and how to best support these parents’ needs and the needs of their children. The purpose of this case study was to examine the involvement of immigrant parents in one classroom. Specifically I examine: (a) how one school involved immigrant parents in their children’s education; (b) how immigrant parents perceive they have been involved; and (c) how immigrant parents want to be involved in their children’s education. This constructivist case study examined immigrant parent involvement from the perceptions of different stakeholders--the vice-principal, teacher and immigrant parents from the one teacher’s class. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with the vice-principal and one teacher of one model middle school in the Toronto District School Board to elicit information about their school and their experiences related to immigrant parent involvement. In addition, a parent questionnaire was used to explore parents’ perceptions. The parent questionnaire was distributed to the one teacher’s class of parents (all but one who were immigrants). The data analysis revealed five core themes related to immigrant parent involvement. The educators suggested that parents lack the knowledge of how the Ontario education system functions, while the immigrant parents said that they were unaware of what is being asked of them or offered to them. No communications sent home to the parents were translated. Suggestions for future research and recommendations are offered to the school and school board in order to provide additional support to immigrant parents.