Suniti Sharma, Saint Joseph’s University & JoAnn Phillion, Purdue University
This Spring 2016 guest issue of the Journal of Family Diversity in Education addresses a gap in teacher education literature by expanding on a developing line of research that seeks to deepen preservice, student, and in-service teachers’ understanding of family diversity and difference and the factors that contribute to this diversity; family diversity as a shifting cultural, political, and structural construct; and the critical impact of teachers’ perceptions of family diversity on how they respond to difference in enacting educational equity in classroom practice. Using a range of theoretical frameworks, methodologies, and perspectives, scholars review and examine the changing discourses that frame family diversity in the 21st century: persisting challenges of diversity, difference, and equity; traditional notions of diversity and difference within shifting family structures; how shifting family structures affect the education of ethnic, racial, and immigrant groups differently; and the effects of the intersectionality of race, social class, gender, and language, inclusive of a changing definition of family, diversity, and difference.
The authors in this guest issue use the context of their professional and personal experiences to reimagine how educators understand diversity in family, community, and schools. While Hollie Kulago activates indigenous knowledge to deepen our knowledge of family, community, and schools in creating an equitable school environment, Wangari Gichiru sheds light on the challenges of Somali families in the U.S. to emphasize close working relationships between immigrant parents and the schools their children attend. On a different register, Althier Lazar’s research engages preservice teachers to expand their cultural knowledge of the home language and literacy practices of emergent bilingual students in urban schools further advanced by Sandra Mercuri’s advocacy for extending Spanish-speaking in-service teachers’ understanding of emergent bilingualism and biculturalism through ongoing pedagogical collaborations between parents and teachers in the unique context of schools at the U.S.-Mexico border.
Speaking about the absence of Muslim women in school curricula and their continued stereotyping in popular media, Diane Watt urges educators to co-create an inclusive curriculum that acknowledges multiple and diverse forms of knowledge, while Suniti Sharma draws attention to the intersection of educational policy, family diversity, and the school-to-prison pipeline and calls for equity and social justice in school practice. In conclusion, Jubin Rahatzad and Hannah Dockrill offer a review of international scholarship based on grassroots community schools in Honduras and Kadriye El-Atwani reviews a collection of essays on how immigrant Muslim children negotiate multiple cultures to complement and complicate our understanding of family diversity in U.S. American and international contexts. Together, the articles in this issue offer directions for future research, offering educators opportunities and spaces for reflecting on their assumptions and perspectives, understanding shifting family structures and cultures different from their own, and constructing pedagogies responsive to the shifting nature of cultural diversity and difference.