Though in a country that can have very different

Though immigrants
share some characteristics, such as a desire for political and religious
freedom and economic opportunity, Immigrants have different needs as they come
from different cultures with different background such as language, religion,
customs. Some have experienced traumatic wars and threats that they were forced
to leave their homes to become part of a foreign culture. For instances, many Immigrants face varied mental
health challenges (which it is is expressed differently through culture). There
can be acculturative stress, post-traumatic stress for refugees, and conflicts between immigrants and their
children, as the younger generation adapt to life in a country that can have
very different values, and it will be nearly impossible to train and hire a
teacher or professional that could assist each student and their specific need
as an immigrant. On this article I will focus on access
to education among immigrants and how community psychology values can play a
vital role in adaptation between parents, children, teacher and community. I will also discuss
how each value of community psychology can impact the access of education among
immigrants and how it can serve as a source of communication bridge between
parents, child, teacher, community, and how by hiring community psychologist in
schools could be the key to improve access of education among immigrants and as
well as well schools’ growth. Unfortunately, I could not find in the literature
the involvement of community psychology working with schools and access of
education among immigrants, there is a certain need for it, and in this paper I
suggest that schools adopt the idea of hiring community psychologists.

 

Bridging Community
Psychology Principles with Access of Education Among Immigrants

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According to Kloss
et al. (2011) community psychology offers a different way of thinking about human
behavior. Community psychologists are interested in effective ways to prevent
problems rather than treat them after they arise. The field emphasizes
promoting healthy functioning for all members of a community rather than
intervening when problems develop for a few of those members. Community
psychology focus their research on factors at the neighborhood, community, and
societal level that support or impede healthy development rather than internal
psychological processes or biological factors. In community psychology,
discussions of values are useful for several purposes. First, values help
clarify choices for research and action. Even defining a problem is a
value-laden choice, strongly influencing subsequent action. Psychology as a
field carries seven values that can also serve as principles that can be
successfully applied to every community circumstances.

According to Fisch, Greenfield and Trumbull (1999) The
varied educational backgrounds of
today’s immigrant population mean that it is difficult to generalize about the
issues they face. Parent involvement is a multidimensional concept, referring
most generally to a partnership between school actors and parents that promotes
the “social, emotional, and academic growth of children” Parents and teachers’
communication barriers affects how the teacher and the immigrant parent work
together to educate the child (teacher may tell the parents what they should
focus on helping the child at home, but the parent may not understand the
language, and the cultural differences). Example: Teacher says to a Latino parent “Your daughter is an
outstanding student” parent interpret it as “standing out” which is something
that is to be avoided in her culture. It is important to notice that “standing
out” is not something that is to be avoided in every Latino culture
culture. Even when it comes to the same ethnic group we will find drastic
cultural differences, therefore their needs can’t have assumed as same. Latino
immigrant families are very interested in their child’s education, however
parents from Mexico and El Salvador who arrive with little education do not
realize that they and their children will be asked to give up collectivistic
values in pursuit of educational achievement, culture, language and familiarity with
the system enables their access to additional educational resources

According to Greenfield (2007), cultural brokers, such as
Latino or Asian teachers and administrators, are believed to improve the
school-parent-community environment in a number of ways. First, studies have
shown that the cultural connection between these teachers and their students
has positive effects on minority student achievement, including reductions in
dropout rates and disciplinary action, and increases in college attendance.

Second, cultural brokers have been linked to productive processes and outcomes
related to parents and communities. In particular, teachers of color are often
better equipped at recognizing and addressing cultural differences that
manifest themselves in parental attitudes and behaviors that might be
misinterpreted as disengagement or indifference                    

In the
absence of a sizable and well-educated adult population of immigrants or
persons of color, teacher training and professional development around issues
of cultural competency and language issues take on added importance.

Unfortunately, teacher preparation in parent involvement is not well developed.

For example, in most state teacher certification requirements did not mention
parent involvement, and those that did tended to do so only in superficial ways.

With this thought in mind I propose that schools with immigrant children, hire
community psychologists to  train their
teachers and staff on the following community psychology values to be used as a
bridge to connect teachers, families, chil, andminitration and community, and
here is how each value would be implemented in the training and in the schools’
programs development.

Community Psychologist at local schools

Community
psychologists focus in building relationships between the community, community
projects, and research. Adopting a community psychologist in schools could be
the answer to help better the educational experience for children, parents,
teachers, administration and community. Adopting community psychology values,
and creating training, and bringing them all together in decision making,
school planning, and give everyone a voice would the job of a community
psychologist at schools. The involvement of community psychologist in the
access to education among immigrants has been little to no existent. Liking
individuals and community is the focus of community psychology, its work in
schools could be the serve as an effective tool to support teachers and bring
teachers, students, parents, admiration and community to work towards the same
goal. The Community psychologists at school level would also work with
immigrant families, as well as with policy development, research, workshops,
help lead parent and teachers’ conferences, and any work that the school and
parents would need in the local level while recording and developing research
as the projects grow.

Individual and Family Wellness

Wellness in
community psychology englobes every aspect that makes the individual life; physical
and psychological health, including personal well-being and attainment of
personal goals symptoms of psychological distress and such measures of positive
qualities as resilience, social-emotional skills, personal well-being, and life
satisfaction. In order to  promote
individual/family wellness, community psychologists have studied and developed
community interventions focused on the prevention of maladaptive behavior,
personal and family problems, and illness; promotion of social-emotional
competence and of health; social support networks and mutual help groups;
intervention programs in such nonclinical settings as schools and workplaces;
and advocacy for changes in social services, laws, policies, and pro-grams to
promote physical and mental health such as club house.  In the school environment the teacher parent
conferences will have a group for immigrant parents where the first twenty
minutes will be dedicated to discuss about the parent experience and challenges
of educating the children in a foreign country and the parents would give
suggestions and share their thoughts about their kids’ educational development.

Instead of the teacher give a report, the parent would give the teacher the
report, to form a share bound between the parent and teacher. The main idea it
would be to hire community psychologists to ensure of such trainings and
community engagement.

Sense of Community

It is a perception
of belongingness, interdependence and mutual commitments that links individual
together and strengthen the community, it is what gives many a reason to fight
for their beliefs and stand for them. For immigrants it can be difficult to
find the sense of community belongingness in the process of integration. Being
part of fundraising, international or culture days, after school programs,
where parents can cooperate and be involved in their children education can give
them a sense of community welcoming. As humans we value the things we put
effort, time, and resources, and those things we invested in is taken as a
belongingness. Having parents, and teachers working together will help the
process of adaptation for parents, will help the parents to better understand
their children new education journey, and work together with the teacher
because both parent and teacher are now sharing equal responsibility and
participation.

Respect for Human Diversity

According to
Trickett (1996), This value recognizes and honors the variety of communities
and social identities based on gender, ethnic, or racial identity, nationality,
sexual orientation, ability or disability, socioeconomic status and income,
age, or other characteristics. Understanding individuals-in-communities
requires understanding human diversity. This value is not to be taken lightly,
we must understand the culture, tradition and ways of the people we work with
specially in schools. For example, when a teacher is working on a diverse
classroom she must understand that her students have a different cultural
experience at home, and though her job is to teacher she also must be sensitive
to the child and family cultural differences by learning about the culture as
much as she can possibly can from her student and his or her parents (the
experts). Even though she may not understand the language and culture,
understanding that there may be differences and being open to learn and ready
to receive feedback will be an important tool.

Social justice

According to Kloss
et al. (2011) A social justice perspective is often most concerned with
advocacy: for social policies and for changes in public attitudes. But it can
also guide clinical work with members of oppressed populations and research on
psycho-logical effects of social injustice or changes in social policy. According
to Burke and Sainz (2016), hundreds of young immigrant children and refugees
were dined continue to study because they were over 16, and by the time they
would graduate they would be over 20, and schools did not want that age gap, so
they suggested that students would take the GED, many failed because of lack
preparation, support, and lack of language proficiency and training. All kids
should have the right to receive proper education, and no school should be
allowed to denied students the opportunity. An upper older class could be
offered, and having a community psychologist would ensure of the validation of
these programs.

Empowerment and Citizen Participation

According to Prilleltensky
(2001), Empowerment is a process that works across multiple levels and
contexts; it involves gaining access to resources and exercising power in
collective decision making. Citizen participation is a strategy for exercising
this power. It emphasizes democratic processes of making decisions that allow
all members of a community to have meaningful involvement in the decision,
especially those who are directly affected. Teachers and parents will be
involved in the training where a new culture of parent and teacher having the
same level in the education of the children would be the ideal. Parents are
their children experts, teacher have access to the educational resources,
working together would be more affective. Homeschool is good because of parents’
involvement, constantly working with teachers would strengthen parents’
participation and involvement in the child’s education and community.

Collaboration and Community Strength

 The relationship
between the professional, the citizens and the process of the work is the
emphasis of community psychology. Parents and teachers would be more involved
in making school’s decision instead of only the principle and school
administration.

Empirical Grounding

This value is focused
on transforming research into action. Community Psychology uses both
quantitative and qualitative methods of research methods. To a professional
entering in the community work field everything he sees and experiences is
data, as no research is value free. Every experience, programs, interaction,
would be recorded, and while the community psychology integrated the programs
and worked with the teachers, parents, administration, and even children a
research would be.

Conclusion

Unfortunately, the
literature does not register of the involvement of Community Psychology with
the access of education among immigrants, which certainly should be part of the
evolvement and work of community psychologists. The teacher certification
training in most states of the United states does not offer any specific
training for teacher to deal with cultural diversity, immigrants and their
families. Implementing the training in a local schools’ level could be very
affective, and cheaper.

For Golden (2010)
talking about the education of children of immigrants can be difficult,
sparking heated—at times, divisive debates over immigration policy, national
identity, government investment, and federal, state, and local roles in
crafting early education and K–12 policies and practices. But the risk of
failing to ask and answer these questions is that government policies, funding
choices, and program approaches may hinder rather than support the success of
this large and growing group of young students, jeopardizing their long-run success

 Adopting the idea of hiring a community
psychologist in local schools could be very effective not only to improve the
access to education among immigrants, but schools’ education development, and
growth. Community psychology is a growing field with values that can be set and
developed in any setting. With the assistance of community psychologists,
schools could get the support they need to address the issues of importance in
the community. In this regard, community psychology is important and necessary.

With the expertise and support of community psychologists in schools the
challenges with access to education among immigrants, the gap of relationship
between teacher, student, parent, admiration and community would be more
impactful in the community than they already are. Another factor of how
community psychologist could be affective in schools would be rapid growth by
focusing on resolving community issues and schools’ challenges by resolving
community issues in the social, cultural, and economic spheres liking community
and schools with the right resources.

Community
psychology is essential to schools. An applied research on its affective
benefits would be starting by hiring community psychologist in culturally
diverse communities and testing its benefits and intervention programs, and
schools’ education growth, community participation, with schools without a
community psychologist. Though school psychologist is very important, the
training and job of a community psychologists would be different in the way
that the community psychologist would serve as a bridge. I propose that schools
at the local level open positions to community psychologists.