Family resource programs & settlement agencies, a project of the Canadian Association of Family Resource Programs, has released a paper examining the relationship and collaborations between family resource programs and settlement agencies. The paper profiles 4 communities, provides some effective practices and discusses how family resource programs and other community-based agencies can combat racism and discrimination. “Lessons Learned” is available on the website, resources section.

Brave new schools: Identity and power in Canadian education

From the Atkinson Centre for Society and Child Development

The 2008 R.W.B. Jackson Lecture ~ Brave New Schools: Identity and Power in Canadian Education

We are pleased to present Professor James (Jim) Cummins, a renowned second language education scholar in the Department of Curriculum, Teaching and Learning, and Canada Research Chair, Language Learning and Literacy Development in Multilingual Contexts.

As the 2008 Jackson Lecturer, Cummins will draw on data from a 5-year research program entitled From Literacy to Multiliteracies to stimulate re-examination of the foundational principles of Canadian education in an era of increasing diversity and urgent global challenges. Influenced by international agencies such as the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), educational policy-makers in many countries have adopted an increasingly technocratic approach to the promotion of literacy and numeracy.  The focus has been on the identification and implementation of evidence-based “best practices.” However, the frame of reference within which these “best practices” have been generated typically consigns issues related to societal power relations and teacher-student identity negotiation to the margins of consideration.

This lecture will call for a radically different approach to educational policy-making. The constructs of teacher-student identity negotiation and societal power relations will be proposed as empirically validated influences on academic achievement and as fundamental to the development of effective educational policy and practice. Recent OECD research and policy recommendations on the education of immigrant students will be analyzed to show that the marginalization of issues related to power and identity in educational policy-making is an ideological process that is far from “evidence-based.” A very different set of policy options and pedagogical opportunities for Canadian education emerges when the empirical and theoretical frame of reference is broadened to acknowledge the centrality of the multiple forms of diversity that increasingly characterize schools both in Canada and internationally.

The lecture will be held Wednesday, November 12, 2008 at the George Ignatieff Theatre, Toronto. Reception at 6pm, opening remarks and lecture at 7pm. 

To RSVP and/or for more information, call 416.978.1125.

Right to Play at the OPHEA conference

Right to Play will be presenting their curriculum Learning to Play, Playing to Learn at the Oct 17-18/08 Ontario Physical Health and Education Association (OPHEA) conference

It is heartening to see the description of the session highlighting the rights of the child:

“Activities feature an exploration of children around the world, the countries they live in and a study of our rights and responsibilities in the world community”.

Child Watch Column by Marian Wright Edelman (Children’s Defense Fund)

An excerpt of the Child Watch column of the Children’s Defense Fund, taken from the NAME listserv (National Association for Multicultural Education), posted Aug 22/08:

Immigration Enforcement: Raiding Children’s Dreams

“On May 12, 2008, teachers in Potsville, Iowa, interrupted their classes, called the names of some of their Latino students and directed them to report to the principal’s office. Usually, this would mean that they were in for punishment for some infraction. But these children had done nothing wrong. In the principal’s office, they were informed that one or in some cases, both of their parents would not be coming home because they had been taken into custody by federal law enforcement officers.

“Earlier that day, hundreds of helmeted Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents in combat gear, toting assault rifles, swooped down on the Agriprocessors kosher meat processing plant in this town of about 3,000. With military precision, nearly 400 of the plant’s alleged undocumented immigrant workers were shackled and marched out of the slaughterhouse in single file and herded onto buses and vans. Those rounded up in the raid, one of the biggest in our nation’s history, were transported to detention facilities miles away. The raid not only economically devastated the town but also left in its trail hundreds of children wondering when or even if they would see their parents again. Postville was just one of a series of ICE raids in search of undocumented immigrants.

“According to a report by the National Council of La Raza and the Urban Institute, “Paying the Price: The Impact of Immigration Raids on America’s Children,” there are about five million children in the United States with at least one undocumented parent. The stepped-up ICE raids have put the children of these families at increased risk of separation, psychological distress and economic hardship. These raids have disrupted communities across the country and separated thousands of parents from their children. The majority of these children are American citizens who are integrated into the schools and communities of the only country they know. After the arrest or disappearance of their parents, children have experienced psychological duress and developed mental health problems including feelings of abandonment, separation anxiety disorder, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

“The ‘Paying the Price’ report states that the raids affect children, who are “emotionally, financially and developmentally dependent on their parents’ care, protection and earnings.” Children and other family members left behind face serious and immediate economic hardships when the primary breadwinner has been hauled off into custody. The majority of the children affected are under the age of 10~many are infants, toddlers, and preschoolers. Their immediate needs are for food, baby formula, diapers, clothing and other essentials. One of the great challenges for the communities where raids are carried out is to ensure that no child has been left behind in school, left at home without adult supervision or taken into foster care. Some children have been left in the care of teenagers or even babysitters for weeks and months at a time. Those who suffer the greatest harm in ICE raids are children. If our nation is to make any claim for humanity, children deserve to be protected and cared for when their parents are taken away.

Related links: 

The Children’s Defense Fund

Paying the Price: The Impact of Immigration Raids on America’s Children. 

The Right to Learn: Access to Public Education for Non-Status Immigrants (Community Social Planning Council of Toronto).

Election watch ~ Fall ’08?

Rumours are rife in the media about a fall election, most recently, the notion that Prime Minister Stephen Harper is prepared to abandon his fixed election date law (Globe and Mail, August 20th). Immigration policy will likely be a key point of debate/discussion in the upcoming election (as is often is). See, for example, the August 4/08 piece by Lawrence Martin in the Globe and Mail entitled “Playing the immigration card will come with some risk for the Liberals” where Martin captures what will likely be a key theme for the Conservatives: i.e., calling out the Liberals for their voting ‘yes’ on the recent budget bill, Bill C-50 (June 9/08). The bill included immigration policy reforms that the Liberals said (April 3/08) that they were/are not in support of:

“The Liberal Opposition feels strongly that the drastic immigration reforms introduced by the Conservative government should be removed from the budget bill debated in Parliament”.

Related links:

Members of Parliament.

Conservative Party of Canada.

Conservative Convention, scheduled for November 13-15, 2008 in Winnipeg. NB: Of eight “key policy issues” identified for the convention, immigration does not appear.

Liberal Party of Canada.

Forum Liberalis, where the Liberal Party of Canada is inviting Canadians to participate in policy dialogue. Lots of input/interest in immigration issues.

New Democratic Party of Canada.

Green Party of Canada.

Bloc Quebecois.

Attending to the health of immigrant children, the online Q&A site from the Hospital for Sick Children, posted a piece about immigrant children’s health on August 8/08. An excerpt:

“Immigrant children may arrive with health problems that went untreated in their native country; they may speak neither English nor French; they may have different beliefs about health and illness and different expectations of the health system. Even the climate may be completely unfamiliar. For refugees, often fleeing hunger, violence, and chaos in their home countries, the challenges are still greater.

“After they arrive in Canada, immigrant children may find themselves living in an area with high crime rates, poor public transportation, and few stores that sell familiar, affordable food. Their parents may have to work long hours for low pay, sometimes at more than one job, meaning less time spent together as a family. The family must adjust to a new school system and find health care providers they trust. In all cases, there is an intense period of adjustment in their new country during which less than optimal attention may be paid to routine health issues.

“Despite these challenges, many immigrant children adapt and do well. But still, too often, immigrant children’s needs are not adequately met”.

The piece is co-authored by Denis Daneman, MB, BCh, FRCP(C) and Elizabeth Lee Ford-Jones, MD, FRCP(C).

Council of Europe: “Refugees must be able to reunite with their family members”

The Council of Europe (COE) has issued a statement on refugees and their right to family reunification. Citing the UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, the COE says:

“the respect of the right to family unity requires not only that States refrain from action which would split families, but also to take measures to reunite separated family members when they are unable to enjoy the right to family unity somewhere else”.

Canada is a party to the Convention and to the Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees.

3rd On new shores: Understanding immigrant children conference, Guelph ON

The 3rd annual On New Shores conference has released a tentative program for the Nov 6-7/08 event, to be held at the University of Guelph. From organizer Dr. Susan Chuang:

The goals of this conference are to bring together leading scholars from various disciplines (psychology, sociology, education, social work, nursing etc.), professionals (from settlement agencies, family programs), and governmental agenices to: 1) present work on various issues (e.g., socio-emotional development, parent-child relationships, language brokering, literacy, educational isses) and effective programs (for children, youth, parents); 2) have in-depth discussions about current issues and challenges faced by families, organizations, and research); and 3) create opportunities to foster future colloabrations.

Registration is also open. For information, see Dr. Susan Chuang’s webpage at the University of Guelph.

Metropolis Conversation series: Transnationalism and citizenship

The Metropolis Canada Conversation Series brings together researchers, civil servants, policy makers and others to “identify and explore public policy issues”.  At the December 11, 2007 Conversation, the topic was “Transnationalism and the Meaning of Citizenship in the 21st Century” and participants were asked to consider how transnationalism has impacted citizenship.

Transnationalism was defined this way:

Transnationalism refers to the ties linking people or institutions across the borders of nation-states. As the country having the second highest proportion of foreign-born residents in the world, and with an estimated 9% of its population residing overseas (Zhang, 2006).

We are pleased to see that issues related to immigrant/transnational children and families were part of this conversation. 

Migrant Head Start

A local Idaho newspaper reports last week on the success of a Head Start program specifically targeted to children of migrants, including farm and other seasonal workers.

The ED of the program, Irma Morin when asked about the value of such a program, said “Without Head Start we would need more resources in our public school system at the elementary level to work with children who have not had exposure to education, nutrition, social interaction and language”