Impact of community partnership in fostering educational resilience

By Radhika Retnam

Today, school counselors are equally accountable as educators for the academic achievement especially in the case of the minority and poor. Urban school counselors play a vital role in involving the school’s stakeholders to implement partnership programs which foster student achievement and resilience. International students and other students who suffer racial and ethnic minority in urban schools often feel powerless in a majority-dominated culture where language, culture and class are viewed as deficits. Their academic life is often characterized by oppression, lack of privilege and neglect. It is observed that school officials blame the cultural values and family structure for the poor academic results from these students. On the other side, parents claim that insensitivity and discrimination from the school authorities as the chief reason for the under performance of their children.

An article by David H. Arnold, CarniloOritz and a couple of researchers from University of Massachusetts at Amherst   suggest that there is a substantial relationship between academic results and disruptive behavior in students. “Promoting academic success and preventing disruptive behavior disorders through community participation” is an article based on research addressing issues of aggression and behavioral problems in students and its direct influence on their academic performance. The research was focused on coordination of programs at home and school and development of community partnerships to test how much they are facilitating to children’s healthy development. Aggression, defiance, disruption and anti-social behaviors were spotted among most of the students in the minority circle and these factors often interfered with their academic results. The emergent stages of relationship between academic and relationship problems are focused in the article. The article suggested that such problems can be suggested in two ways- 1) engagement of parents and teachers in literacy programs and 2) through shared reading.

‘From risk to resilience: what role for community greening and civic ecology in cities?’ by Keith G. Tidball and Marianne E. Krasny emphasize on the lack of resilience in communities (like Baghdad or New Orleans) which ends up with high risk of them turning into a qualitatively different state in a post-disaster scenario. Since, this article is in no way associated to the topic of our discussion, further details are conveniently neglected.

Some studies have a taken a different approach by looking into a wider scale and not confining to research to the spheres of minority alone. “Risk and Resilience: Implications for the delivery of educational and mental health services in schools” discuss about the potential of school/college based prevention or intervention programs to foster resilience. Students who are reared under adverse living conditions, poverty, family dysfunction and abuse struggle a lot to become successful adults in future. This research finds out that a good majority of students who had faced severe stress and hardships have developed into competent and productive adults. “Fostering family resiliency: a review of the key protective factors” by Karen Benzies and RichelleMychasiuk published in Wiley Online Library also discusses similar topic. In “Strengths-Based partnerships: A School-family-Community Partnership Approach to Empowering Students” by Julia Bryan and Lynette Henry argues that school counselors when collaborated with family and community member will foster the strength based partnership which will equally empower children and families. These community-based programs utilize different assets found in, families and schools to promote a positive adult-child relationship which will have its impact on the academic results of the students. The article is a case study of strength based approach applied in school-family-community partnerships in order to empower students from low-income background and families of color.

Strengthening resilience in children and youths: maximizing opportunities through the schools is a review literature by Jean. E. Brooks which focuses on how school/college environment can be structured in order to strengthen resilience in students. Incorporating resilience –building efforts through social competence, increased student-adult bond etc. is discussed in the write-up. Limitations of a school-focused approach for improving resilience are also debated in brief. “Fostering Educational Resilience in inner-city schools” by Margaret C. Wang, Geneva D. Haertal and Herbert J. Walberg is based on the educational practices that promote resilience and its implication on student development and success particularly in inner-city communities.  The research had identified 7 features of the learner and 22 characteristics of the home, classroom, and community situations that influence student learning.

“Fostering educational resilience and achievement in urban schools through school-family-community partnerships” by Julia Bryan argues that the socio-cultural-political stressor faced by the students in the minority spheres in urban schools has a very complex and subtle barrier to student achievement. Bryan finds out that these practices unconsciously act to maintain the racial inequities. It is in this scenario that the school/college counselors are pushed to take leadership roles in education reforms which aim at reducing barriers to academic achievement.

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About The Author

Radhika RatnamRadhika Retnam

Radhika Retnam is currently pursuing Post-graduation in Journalism at the Press club Institute in Trivandrum. She is an active volunteer at MAD ( Make a Difference), an NGO that takes care of the education and overall growth of kids at Shelter homes. She is an occasional creative writer and has published poems in ‘Kavya Bharathi’ (a journal published by The American College, Madras). She has also won the challenge memorial award for poetry in 2012. She is planning to conduct an exhibition of her abstract paintings later this year. She is also a researcher for a project on media studies conducted in collaboration with ICSSR and JNU.