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ERIC Number: ED551964
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2011
Pages: 186
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
ISBN: 978-1-2678-6731-5
Emerging Lenses: Perspectives of Parents of Black Students on School Success
Collins Ayanlaja, Carole R.
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Illinois at Chicago
This study used existing data derived from interviews with parents of Black students who had participated in the Suburban School Achievement Study (SSAS) to explore what parents think about schooling, the schooling experiences of their children, and how they respond to their children's experiences and level of access to opportunities. This study highlighted the relationship parents have with their children's schooling in the context of race and culture by acknowledging the unique and significant space that Black students and their parents occupy in what some describe as America's "postracial" society. The primary theoretical frameworks that guided the study emphasized social capital and networks, as well as their operation both institutionally and among families. Stanton-Salazar's (1997) network-analytic approach provided a conceptual underpinning that places a great deal of importance on the formation of supportive ties or relationships with various types of institutional agents, gatekeepers, and informal mentors; these ties are considered critical for the success of minority and working-class youth. Coleman's (1988) theory of intergenerational closure established the concept of network support among families as a means to propel student success. To embed the ideology of Black cultural capital and funds of knowledge, the study references the work of Prudence Carter (2005) and Luis Moll (1992). Additionally, Ogbu's (2003) anthropologically based argument offered a compelling counter-explanation for why Black American students have been less successful in American schools than immigrant Black students. His controversial argument prompted thinking about the impact of culture as it relates to school success and was relevant to this study. This researcher approached the data analysis through an interpretive/constructivist paradigm. Several major findings emerged. Parents believed that their children experienced racial discrimination and that the school was uncommunicative with them. Parents also perceived that the school did not initiate an effective means to get information to them and involve them in school. Additionally, they did not form strong networks with peer parents that transmitted school information. Parents had a sense that social capital existed but felt that it seldom affected school matters and did not use it to maximize advocacy and support parental connections with the school. Based on the study's findings, the researcher formulated recommendations for school personnel, community policymakers, parents, and students. School personnel were advised to create opportunities for parent involvement and school--family goodwill development that build on families' individual strengths and take into account barriers that limit participation at school, including parent work schedules; such activities might include weekend and evening activities in which school personnel and parents can interact outside of school hours. Teachers were advised to maximize the effectiveness of parent-teacher conferences with Black parents by engaging in dialogue that focuses on the children's positive attributes as well as their weaknesses and identifying ways in which parents might assist their children at home. The researcher also suggested that teachers and administrators support parental in-home involvement by creating websites and parent learning packets containing parent-friendly exercises aligning with student assignments. Outgoing call systems transmitting parent announcements would also benefit parental involvement. Schools should also embrace opportunities for critical conversations about cultural diversity and participate in cultural-competency training to expose myths and falsehoods, stimulate thought, and influence practice. As well, school leaders were advised to create opportunities for staff to deconstruct and discuss their own feelings about race, gender, class, and culture. Community policymakers were advised to develop neighborhood-enhancement programs that promote the creation of strong parent-to-parent and parent-to-community informational networks, including social programs that take into account the dynamics of diverse neighborhoods by promoting positive interactions between residents and schools in the community. Policymakers should work with community stakeholders to identify key obstacles facing families in the community that limit these families' ability to identify success-oriented options for their children. They should also establish community centers that offer opportunities for interaction and collaboration among parents and school professionals. Students were advised to identify proactively the individuals available at school, at home, or in the community to serve as school advocates for them and to seek mentorship from African-American college students or young professionals in order to learn and observe success-oriented practices and coping techniques. Parents were advised to identify existing opportunities for engagement in developmentally appropriate representations of involvement in order to support, motivate, monitor, and discuss the progress of their adolescents. They should also communicate frequently and deliberately with schools to keep the academic needs of their children at the forefront and keep themselves informed about school practices. As well, parents were advised to empower themselves by engaging in current opportunities for school involvement and leveraging social capital by enlisting support from one another and the community to increase their influence upon schools. (Abstract shortened by UMI.). [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
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Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A