EF’s Mika Abdullaeva Presenting on Cross Cultural Perspectives in Education at CIES 2017

March 3, 2017

The Comparative and International Education Society (CIES) annual conference brings together more than 3,000 academics, students, practitioners, and policymakers from around the world to foster cross-cultural understanding, scholarship, academic achievement and societal development through the international study of educational ideas, systems, and practices.

Eurasia Foundation is pleased to announce that Program Officer Mika Abdullaeva will present her paper on “Involving immigrant parents in schools: Experience of Uzbek parents in New York City Schools.”  She will present in a session on Cross-Cultural Perspectives of Education: Identity, Immigration, and the Question of Achievement” on Tuesday, March 7 at 4:30 p.m.

“Problematizing (In)Equality: The Promise of Comparative and International Education” is the theme of this year’s CIES conference. How do we determine what factors are problems and how does that influence possibilities, solutions, and dead ends? How are we in international education addressing and neglecting issues of equality and inequality? Mika will join her fellow presenters and participants in disccusing these themes, exchanging knowledge and experience, sharing case studies, and exploring new approaches.

Mika conducted her research while a student at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

Abstract: Involving immigrant parents in schools: Experience of Uzbek parents in New York City Schools​

As a consequence of educational inequality in the U.S. education system academic success is heavily linked to class, SES, and cultural capital. Most immigrants arrive with limited economic resources and, more significantly, without the cultural capital sufficient to confidently engage the school system. Immigrant parents, however, have high expectations for their children. Moreover, immigrant communities devise strategies drawn from their culture and experience to build social networks that integrate families into the community and empower their dealings with the larger community and city (Fuligni, 1997; Zhou & Kim, 2006). The aim of my study is to understand the Uzbek immigrant parents’ experience with their child’s education in Brooklyn, NY. Background: Studies show a positive relationship between parental involvement and academic success (Lee & Bowen, 2006; Henderson & Mapp, 2002; Epstein, 1991). Parental involvement is a concept made up of forms of cultural capital that consist of specific habits, activities, behavior, and attitudes. Academic success is itself a component of cultural capital. Parental involvement is an integration of home and school that improve academic outcomes (Lareau, 1987). Middle class parents are more likely to be involved with their child’s education than the less well off. White parents are more involved than Hispanic and African American parents (Childs Trend Data Bank, 2013, p. 4).The different types and levels of involvement are the result of the good fit between the school culture and the values, attitudes, and habits of the middle class (Lee & Bowen, 2006, p. 198). Uzbek immigrants are a relatively new demographic that represent largely Uzbek and Tajik ethnicities. Parents who attended Soviet school before and in the early years of independence speak Russian and find support in already established Russian speaking structures in US, while those parents who received education in purely Uzbek schools rarely speak Russian or other language and have no structure support provided in Uzbek language. Most of the Uzbek immigrants arrived with their families as a part of the Diversity Visa Lottery and represent diverse class of population of Uzbekistan. Their expectations from their children’s education depend on their experience with schools and values set for their children’s future

My research questions are:

I. What constitutes cultural capital of Uzbek immigrant parents?
III. What are parents’ expectations for themselves, their child, and their school?
IV. How satisfied and effective are parents with their school, their child’s progress?

The project is grounded in mainstream research studying the factors that affect academic outcomes. My focus is on the importance of parents’ strategies in their children’s education to achieve academic success. I build on a theoretical framework used in educational research (Lee & Bowen, 2006; Lareau, 1987) and is designed to illuminate the relationships between cultural capital (Bourdieu), parental involvement (Epstein), and academic success. My research, however, emphasizes these factors for their impact on parents’ satisfaction. High levels of satisfaction suggest an environment where values are shared, collaborative partnerships flourish, and expectations are rising (Falbo, et al., 2003). This is an exploratory study that uses a mixed method approach with a qualitative and quantitates data gathered concurrently through the questionnaire. I interview twenty parents who immigrated from Uzbekistan within the last decade and have a child in the NYC public school system. Immigrant communities are not the same. The Uzbek community is a new population notable for its origins in Central Asia and for its ethnic, religious and cultural diversity, different from the immigrant groups of the twentieth century. By identifying the effectiveness of different types of parental involvement, educational policy can be adjusted to maximize the effectiveness of immigrant parental strategies. The emphasis on parents’ evaluation of their experience is an opportunity for schools to address parental needs collaboratively.