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PARENTAL INVOLVEMENT

 

Magda Enriquez Beitler

Middle School Teacher

Roberto Clemente Middle School

 

 

- Why Are You Calling Me?

 

It was 12:30 in the afternoon when I called the home of one of my students. The phone rang three times. Nobody answered. I tried again. At the second ring a sleepy voice answered,

-

- "Digame? (Tell me)

 

- "Dona Carmen," I said, "are you all right?"

 

- "Who is this?" the increasingly annoyed voice said. [I felt so embarrassed, the poor woman was sick and I was annoying her.]

 

- "Dona Carmen, this is Magda Enriquez, Gina's teacher. If this is not a good time to talk, I can call later."

 

- " What did Gina do now?" [By now she was no longer 'annoyed,' she was angry.]

 

- "Nothing Dona Carmen..."

 

- "Why are you calling me then... Is there something wrong?"

 

- "Dona Carmen, I just wanted to tell you I am so happy to have Gina in my class. She is such a good student and she helps me so much." [Silence. It was very quiet at the other end of the line.]

 

- "Dona Carmen, are you there? Dona Carmen, are you there?"

 

- "Si, si. You called to tell me how good my Gina is?!!"

 

- "Yes Dona Carmen, and I want you to know that I am 'a sus ordenes.' I want Gina to be the best. I know she can do it." [Silence

 

- "What did you say your name was?"

 

- "Magda Enriquez, Gina's teacher at Clemente..."

 

 

The above transcript is part of a conversation I had with one of my student's parent. This conversation helped make it clear to me that many parents are on the defensive when being approached by school teachers.

The Children Achieving Agenda of the School District of Philadelphia is based on a philosophy that aims to reaffirm self identity and self esteem, to promote thinking and decision making, and to enhance the concept of the learning community based on mutual respect and the respect of others in an environment where teachers and students learn from each other (School District of Philadelphia, 1995). To achieve these goals parental involvement is necessary.

At Roberto Clemente Middle School all efforts are made to have an open school that encourages active parental interaction and high cultural awareness. All activities are done bilingually; parents are represented in the School Council; G.E.D. preparation and computer classes are offered at the school in the afternoon for parents; and customarily, the school is the site for social activities such as weddings, sweet fifteen birthday parties and theater productions. Many of these activities are cited as effective in involving parents in schools (see, for example, Johnson, 1993 and Nieto, 1994).

However, regardless of all of these activities and programs, only about 100 parents attend Clemente's activities on a regular basis, a low number considering the school has over 1500 students. Moreover, I have observed that more parents meet with conflict managers to discuss disciplinary problems involving their children than attend these activities. My question is, why? Why is it that parents do not get as involved in school activities as teachers would like them to be?

I believe that to find answers to this question, one must understand the socioeconomic realities of the family, the family's culture and the family's native language. Therefore, this research inquiry discusses the socioeconomic, cultural and linguistic variables that must be taken into consideration in understanding parental involvement. In addition, I consider ways to increase the presence of parents at Roberto Clemente.

 

What is Parental Involvement?

Research shows that there are many conceptual and operational definitions of parental involvement; but most researchers agree that there is a positive relation between parental involvement and students' performance. For example, Griffith (1996) as well as McGilp & Michael (1994) contend that teachers and parents need to identify each others' contributions to children's learning and define the roles and tasks each will take.

Moreover, these researchers agree that positive relations between parents and schools are unaffected by the school's characteristics or the socio-economic, cultural, racial or ethnic composition of the student population. A different argument is presented by Crowson (1992) and Tomlinson (1993) in that they acknowledge the impact of socio-economic and cultural influences on the types and quality of relationships between parents and schools. They argue that conversations and exchanges are mediated by class, culture, race and gender; and parents and teachers bring their own baggage to conversations. When backgrounds and perceptions of individuals differ and there is poor communication, then there might be clashes between teachers and parents. Indeed, the latter perspective on parent-school relationships is more critical and useful for my examination of the school context at Roberto Clemente School.

What Factors Influence the Relationship Between Parents and Schools?

Pennsylvania's population increased 0.1% between 1980 and 1990. However, the state's Latino population grew 50.9% during the same period (FalcÛn, 1993). Two thirds of all Latinos in the state are concentrated in Philadelphia, with 85% being Puerto Rican and the remaining 15% a mixture of Mexicans, Caribbean, and Central and South Americans. More than 200,000 Latinos, age 5 and over, report that they speak Spanish (U.S. Department of Commerce, 1990). Thus, Latinos are the largest growing group in Pennsylvania and Spanish is the second most spoken language in the state.

One needs to examine socioeconomic and educational factors in order to understand parent-school relationships. Latinos in Pennsylvania have the lowest income of all major groups and the highest poverty rates (FalcÛn, 1994). Latinos also have the lowest home ownership rate in the state. In Philadelphia, these conditions are worsened by the fact that most Latinos do not have health insurance and "receive less preventive care and have lower birth-weight babies and higher rates of illness than most other populations in the city" (ColÛn & Ortiz, 1993).

According to the Philadelphia School District, Latino students comprise 10% of the total student population in the city and are concentrated in 21 schools (ColÛn and Ortiz, 1993). Most young Latinos suffer from educational inequities and are under-represented at both ends of the educational spectrum, the pre-school level and the college level (Governor's Commission on Latino Affairs, 1990). These authors seem to imply an ineffectiveness in the schooling for Latinos in the city.

It is within these socio-economic and educational contexts that Puerto Rican children are expected to learn and have high expectations. It is within these contexts that parents are supposed to be involved in their children's education.

In reality, the response of parents to education is varied in the community. For example, sometimes the poor socioeconomic conditions result in disorganized homes, erratic parental supervision and limited involvement with schools. Just as common, are homes with families who work hard to improve themselves and their children. Although material resources might be scarce and social conditions might be poor, some families have strong values for work, education and family. These values support their daily struggles for survival. In other words, children from varied homes and families can experience failure in the schools; so one needs to consider other factors that influence academic behavior in the schools.

Cultural factors need to be considered as well when examining parent-school relationships. According to Erickson (1995), culture is "seen as learned and transmitted... [culture] is a construction--it constructs us and we construct it" (p. 15). Erickson believes that "everybody is cultural even though not all culture is equal...[and] everybody is Multicultural" (p. 15). According to Erickson, there are "boundaries" and "borders" in any given society. A cultural boundary refers to some kind of cultural differences while a border "is a social construct that is political in origin. Across a border power is exercised, as in the political border between two nations" (p.15).

Erickson's definition of cultural boundaries is helpful to understand the within group differences among Latinos. Latinos may come from at least 22 Spanish speaking countries, they are of all races, shades, colors and gender; they are rich and poor; powerful and powerless, well educated and illiterate. Some come from rural Latin America, others from large cosmopolitan cities. Among them there are commonalities and differences as well as "boundaries" and "borders."

All Latinos in the United States are grouped in one category: "Hispanics," a cultural "border" created by the United States Government in response to a federal need to have an umbrella term for a language minority group. This umbrella term obscures the cultural differences that Latino parents confront when they take their children to school in the United States for the first time.

When Latino parents take their children to a school in the United States, both parents and children are facing a dramatic new reality. Most likely, the children are still learning the culture of their elders while at the same time they are asked to "invent a new culture within the current situation" (Erickson, 1995). At the same time the parents are trying to understand the new culture while being forced to make important educational decisions for their children. Sometimes, in a matter of a few hours, parents and their children have gone from the known to the unknown, from the simple to the complex, and from rural to the cosmopolitan. These transitions are not easy because they involve both cultural and political issues (Nieto, 1995).

Language is an aspect of culture that serves to illustrate difficult transitions. The English Only movement in this country reminds us that currently, learning English still means forgetting Spanish, and becoming Americanized still means becoming Anglicized. In turn, this also means that Latino students who are attempting to prevent discrimination and hoping to be accepted in the mainstream culture, must learn to "eat, dress, talk and even behave like the European American model" (Nieto, 1995, p. 346). The more the children become Anglicized, the further away they move from the culture and values of their parents and relatives. Consequently, the communication gap between parents and children increases.

Another communication gap that might occur is between teachers and parents. Some Latino families place a high cultural value on maintaining their home language. However a cultural clash with parents might occur when school districts do not understand or value language maintainance. For example, parents may see their children mainstreamed in English-only classrooms while they lack the necessary English proficiency to communicate with the children's teachers. This problem is further complicated when children loose their Spanish as they acquire English, because parents end up not being able to communicate with their own children much less with their children's teacher. Other aspects of language differences that may interfere in appropriate communication between parents and teachers are academic language competence, socially acceptable forms and code switching and anglicisms. Even if parents are able to acquire communicative competency in English; they are likely to lack the academic language competence that is necessary to efficiently communicate with teachers in relation to their children's academic performance.

In the same fashion, socially acceptable language use is another cultural difference. Language that some may interpret as profanity, may be considered socially acceptable by others. Thus, if parents and students are not properly briefed on what is considered profanity by the school culture, some embarrassing situations may occur. Although code switching and anglicisms are socially acceptable in Philadelphia's Puerto Rican community, their use may complicate communication with teachers from other Latin American countries, or with teachers who have learned "standard Spanish" as a second language. This complication may be twofold. On the one hand, parents and teachers may not truly understand each other, and on the other hand if "proper" Spanish is not spoken the person who is using anglicisms runs the risk of being labeled as "improper."

Another aspect of culture is family relations. Family relations are highly regarded within the Latino culture. For many Latinos, the family, regardless of its type and size, is considered to be "a fountain of emotional and economic security and support" (Grossman, 1984, p. 36). This is so because families are also considered "the main source of self-worth and meet social and emotional needs of their members" (p. 7). Thus, parents hold themselves personally responsible for their children's conduct and believe that their children's behavior is a reflection of their capacity to educate them correctly.

What Is My Inquiry?

My research interest focused on parental involvement in my two 8th Grade Bilingual Classes at the Roberto Clemente Middle School. I worked with the parents of 42 students of these classrooms. Of these students, more than 85% are Puerto Rican, only 8 live with their mother and father, 22 live with their mother, three with their grandmother and 9 in a family where one parent is a step-parent.

Specifically, I wanted to know why parents were not presently involved in the school life of their children. To answer this question I observed parents' reaction to school activities, teacher's reaction to parents' comments and students' reaction to their parents' involvement. In addition, I conversed with approximately one third of the parents (15) (See Appendix A). To get a fuller understanding of the situation with parents I also talked to the other 8th Grade bilingual teacher, with Clemente's bilingual Conflict Manager and with the 8th grade non-teaching assistant (NTA), who is also a community activist. I was interested in their perceptions about parents and the activites the school could do to increase parental participation in activities (See Appendix B).

What I learned from talking to the parents was helpful in developing a more realistic and deeper understanding of parents' perspectives and their context. For instance, some parents indicated that they do not attend school activities because of educational or economic limitations such as, "I do not speak English" or "I don't have any one with whom to leave my small children" or "I do not have a car and live too far to walk." Others mentioned personal perceptions of their environment and school as reasons for not participating in school, for example, "I am afraid to go out at night"; "The teachers usually call to complain about our children"; "I believe school activities are a waste of time."

The conversations with the school staff proved to be very useful because I was able to identify some ideas for activities that I would try with the 8th grade parents to increase parental participation. Specifically, I could call parents to inform them about positive aspects of their children's behavior and academic achievement. In addition, I could invite one of the mothers to participate as a volunteer in one of the classrooms. Also, I could organize a Parents' Club for the two 8th Grade bilingual classes. Finally, I could ask a group of parents to call other parents to inform them about the club and invite them to the club's first meeting.

What Did I Learn From My Inquiry?

My inquiry suggested that there are socio-economic, cultural and linguistic realities in which parents and students are immersed that influence their perceptions of schools and their participation in school related activities. T

he lives of students are definitely impacted by the harsh socio-economic conditions of some families. Surrounded by poverty and persistent violence, the lives of parents and children can become trapped in a cycle of despair and violence. For instance, the father of one student is a known drug dealer with frequent arrests; the mother of another is a known prostitute. Several students have been in court or in jail or have been absent because they had to visit someone who is in jail. The following experience illustrates how this cycle has a negative effect on children.

A twelve year old boy was having problems with all of his teachers. He showed very violent behavior. He was suspended for a day and was told that to return to school he had to come with one of his parents. The next morning I was called to a meeting to discuss the boy's case. I entered the room and found the boy sitting between two women, one woman was his mother and the other was his parole officer. I learned from the mother the reason why there was a parole officer, the mother said:

"I can't control him. Not even the police can control him. You know why he has a parole officer? Because one day he was so furious that he started to throw beer bottles at my house. When he started breaking the windows, I called the police and they took him away. But because he was only twelve they sent him back, and now he has his parole officer."

This student and his family had been exposed to extreme violence in their everyday surroundings. The lack of control that the adults have over their environment is also reflected in their children's lives.

Students and their parents sometimes have to resort to alternative strategies to cope with dramatic socioeconomic situations. One of these strategies is what Stack (1975) calls "stretching" of values in order to cope with poverty. An example of "stretching' values is the following conversation with the mother of one of my students whose oldest son was in jail for drug dealing. "Pobrecito," (the poor kid!) she said, "you know how it is. My son had to go to the street to earn some chavos (money). Life is difficult Missy." In other words, drug dealing is permissible as long as it helps the family socioeconomically. According to this student, it is okay to deal drugs as long as you do not sell to people in your family.

For another student his brother is some sort of a hero, the boy said: "He would never sell drugs to the people in my bloque (street block). He would kill me if I ever got near any drugs."

In an interview with the mother of another student I asked her what "el punto" (the point or particular location) was. Her definition was almost identical to one given by one of my students in a narrative she wrote last year and suggests how values are "stretched" in order to deal with particular situations:

El Punto is the place in the corner 'owned' by drug dealers. The owner of El Punto coordinates a group of people from the barrio who sell the drug for him. These people do not sell drugs to the people in the barrio, but to mostly white or black people who stop at the corner and buy the drug without getting out of their cars. When there is a problem in the barrio the owner of el punto and his people come to the rescue in places where the police dare not enter. (Clemente student, 1995)

In other words we can allow owners of puntos to sell drugs in our streets as long as they defend us against violence. Other values also get "stretched" as a survival strategy. One of the values is early pregnancy. Most Latino families, particularly of recent arrival to the United States, are rather conservative concerning premarital sexual relations. However, the pregnancy rate among Puerto Rican teenagers is extremely high. Of all hospital admissions, 45% are Latinos age 10 to 19 for complications of pregnancy, childbirth, and puerperium (ColÛn & Ortiz, 1993).

However, this value changes when the family confronts a difficult socio-economic reality. A counseling session with a teenage mother illuminates this point. In an effort to create a space for boys and girls to talk about personal and social issues that interest them, a weekly guidance period was organized at Clemente with a bilingual conflict manager. In one of these sessions, girls made it clear that early pregnancy, although a scary experience that often contributes to increasing school drop out rates, is also a mechanism to increase the family income through an additional welfare check. This apparent contradiction was explained by a 14 year-old student who is the mother of a two year old:

When I became pregnant my mother was very mad at me, but when she learned that the government was going to give her more money because now she had another mouth to feed, her anger did not last. (Clemente student, 1995)

The comments of three mothers, who are active in the Home-School Association, about the relationship between the socio-economic reality and parental participation were helpful to me. Their answer was categorical: "

It has a lot to do with it. Missy, they [some community people] know that they are doing something wrong, but they can't help it. They are always afraid that if they come to the school, people will comment about their life. And you know, ojos que no ven, corazon que no siente (Eyes that do not see, heart that does not feel)."

 

In other words, these families respond to socio-economic pressures in ways that are not accepted by society and to avoid criticism they do not get involved in school.

However, as mentioned earlier, there are numerous examples of positive ways to respond to socio-economic pressures that facilitate parental involvement in schools. I saw one of those examples when the mother of one of my students came to see me the first week of classes. She and her husband wanted to make sure that I understood that they were ready to help their son get good grades. The mother explained:

"Missy, my mother was a peasant. She had six children from two different husbands. She never learned to read and write, but I did. I did not finish high school because I married very young and life was very hard at home. That is why I came to this country. To have a better life and above all so that my children could do better than I did. I don't know much English, but my son is learning the language. I want my son to graduate high school. I want him to go to college. I want him to be the first professional in my family. My husband and I work very hard so that he doesn't need anything. Nada, all he has to do is study. I try to help him the best way I can. I make sure he does his homework and he gets to school on time...I don't come very often to school activities because I don't have much time left. I work very hard so that my children can have all that I didn't have, but it doesn't mean that I don't care about what happens in the school. I do care very much."

One of the very active mothers in my classroom separated from her husband and came to this country four years ago. In her conversation with me she said:

"I left him because he was a drug addict...I tried, but there was nothing I could do to make him stop taking drugs. That is why I left him in Puerto Rico and came to this country to find a better life for me and my daughters. I am going to school at night to be able to get a better job. It is not easy but we all help each other... When I came I did not know any English. Now I know a little, but not enough. That's why I am going to school at night..."

Another mother has been the head of her household since her ex-husband was jailed. She does not want her son to follow his father's footsteps. She said:

 

"I worry about my son. He is very nervous because of what happened to his father. That's why I don't like to remind him of that. He is a good kid. He is learning to control his nerves. You know he's doing very well at school, and you know, after school I take him to the Taller so that he can get involved in cultural stuff and not be in the streets...You know he speaks English very well, but he wanted to be in thebilingual classes because he wants to be bilingual...that is why he is here with you. He is very happy here and so am I..."

Another mother is married and lives with her husband, who she said, "happens to be the father of all my [her] children." Her daughter speaks English better than Spanish. In fact, for the last two years she had been in an English-only program, but this year the family decided that bilingualism was a better option. In a conversation with her about her daughter's absences she said:

"Missy, you are going to have to excuse her. We have a family very unida [close]. We know we have to help each other...[the student] was absent because I had to take one of my sons to the hospital. He was very sick, so...[the student] had to stay home to take care of my little one [18 month old daughter]. You know I would not let her stay at home if there was not an emergency...but give her homework so that she doesn't fall behind, if I can't help her because I don't know much math, her father will, or her uncle. Missy, I have a brother that is very good at math..."

Parents are not happy "stretching" values, or having to cope with the environment of violence in which their children are growing up. My conversations with them revealed that although they acknowledged the importance of having the best acedemic program for the future of their children and of the importance of dealing with teenage pregnancy issues, their immediate focus was on safety issues. Through the meetings with parents, it became apparent that they were more concerned with their children's safety than with the academic content of programs. Parents were afraid of the increasing levels of violence in the streets and afraid of what could happen to their children in school. Parent's comments made it evident that their major concern was their fears about their children's survival in the midst of violence and drugs.

Statements from parents pointed out some of the cultural and linguistic factors that they see affect parental involvement. A cultural factor that seems to be shared by all parents interviewed is that they believe learning problems or misconduct is the result of stubbornness or laziness and is a reflection of the parents' capacity to educate their children correctly. As a result, parents may feel that they will be judged in their parental capacity when teachers call to complain about behavior problems. Thus, they become defensive and tend to avoid communication with schools.

This perspective is confirmed by Ms. QuiÒonez, the only bilingual conflict manager at Roberto Clemente school. She points out that parents understand parental involvement within the framework of some sort of division of labor. While they are responsible for the discipline of their children, teachers are responsible for the academic achievement of children. Ms. QuiÒonez sees between 20 and 30 cases a day and the majority of teacher/parent conferences are based on behavior problems or lack of academic performance. Thus, Ms. Quinonez explains that "when parents come to Clemente, it is to hear that their son or daughter did something wrong or that he/she is performing poorly in class."

Of the 15 parents I talked to, 13 (87 percent) said that they do not want to attend school activities because they do not want to hear more complaints about their children. This was surprising because most of these parents' children are not usually involved in discipline problems. However, according to QuiÒonez, parents are not revealing the underlying reason for not attending school activities, which is that when their children fail to do well, they feel they are the ones who have failed. They are embarrassed of having lost control or they are afraid that they may be accused of having lost control.

Another cultural issue mentioned by parents was language. Of the 15 parents I spoke with, only three (20 percent) spoke English well enough to feel comfortable speaking it. The majority felt intimidated by the fact that, in coming to Clemente, they could be faced with teachers and staff who do not understand or speak Spanish.

Moreover, the majority of these parents pointed out that their children, generally the oldest, often play the role of translators when they have to go to the hospital and even in their communication with the school. As one parent pointed out, "this creates a problem, particularly at school, because I am not always sure that she (her daughter) is translating correctly or that she is not telling me everything as it is. That's why I always look for QuiÒonez, because with her I can talk in Spanish and she understands me."

Understanding does not refer only to the language, but also to the culture. During a meeting with the parents of the two 8th grade bilingual classes, some of the parents pointed out that, "Some teachers don't understand how we are, they don't give us the time to express ourselves. They don't understand our customs."

For example, according to these parents, not all teachers understand that family responsibility takes priority over any other type of responsibility, or that members must contribute to the family with income or household chores. As a result, Latino children may have many chores that may interfere with their study time or attendance at school. So, if a Latino child shows a poor attention span, is easily distracted and appears to be disorganized, it is probable that the child is simply tired and not disinterested or defiant. However, parents get called with complaints about their children's behavior.

The concept of family privacy and responsibility also plays a role when teachers try to interfere in what the family considers a private problem. Sex is one of those issues. When the issue of sex education was addressed by the teachers during a meeting, most parents seemed very uncomfortable. They listened politely but did not enter into the discussion. As mentioned earlier, parents returned to the issue of violence in the schools, which seemed to be their major concern. Although the fears of the parents regarding the safety of their children is valid, they will not discuss sex education because they do not feel it is culturally proper to be discussed with strangers.

How Can Parental Involvement Be Increased in My Classroom?

My inquiry suggested that parental involvement must be meaningful and practical for the parents: meaningful so the parents do not feel that they are wasting their time, and practical in the sense that we as teachers cannot ask parents to do more than what they believe they do. Additionally, when confronted with socio-economic pressures, parents can respond in positive or negative ways to school demands.

Positive ways include supporting the schooling of their children from the home, explaining their home situation to the teacher and participating in school activities. Negative responses to school demands may involve certain actions that can contribute to the student's low self esteem or may promote lack of communication with school personnel.

Conversations with parents indicated that to increase parental involvement the school must have a clear vision of the socioeconomic realities of the family, the characteristics of the family's culture and the family's native language. In relating with the family, it is important for school personnel to know the nation of origin, date of arrival and reasons for coming to the United States, as well as the education and literacy level of the family members. Latino families who speak Spanish at home may feel inadequate at school activities that are held in English only. Thus, when parents are invited to school events where only English is spoken they suffer further indignity and may reason that it is better not to attend. Furthermore, some may want to remain indifferent, uninvolved and apathetic in order to avoid all possibility of embarrasment.

The schools must understand the skills and resources parents have and encourage parents' participation in a climate of confidence and trust between home and school. If parents do not see positive reasons to get involved, they will continue to stay away from school activities. If parents do not feel their culture is properly understood and respected, there cannot be a climate of confidence and trust. If parents and teachers do not have a common language to communicate with each other, effective parental involvement is only a dream.

Regardless of the fact that my action research focused on the two bilingual 8th grade classes at Roberto Clemente Middle School, what I have learned could contribute to other clasrooms and schools with similar realities. To summarize, I believe that teachers must be able to communicate with the parents of their students and understand the family's culture. To achieve this, Anglo teachers should be given the opportunity to acquire at least communicative competence in Spanish through immersion language acquisition programs, and at the same time to increase their understanding of Puerto Rican culture. In addition, parents must be able to communicate with their children's teachers and be prepared to adjust, both socially and academically, to the culture of the society in which they live and their children develop. In order to accomplish this, programs could be set up at the school where parents may acquire English as a second language, improve their levels of education, and learn the necessary job skills to adequately function in this society. Finally, parents and teachers must define meaningful and practical ways to work together for the benefit of the children. This could be pursued through forums where parents and teachers could talk to each other and reach specific agreements as to what they can expect from each other. These agreements should not be conditioned by the child's behavior. The forums should be held in a place where both teachers and parents feel comfortable and safe.

 

REFERENCES

ColÛn, R. & Ortiz, E. (1993). Fact sheet on Latino health. Paper presented at Governor's Advisory Commission on Latino Affairs, The State of Latino Affairs, Harrisburg, PA, February 10-12.

Crowson, R. L. (1992). School community relations under reform. Berkeley, CA: McCutchan Publishing Corporation.

Erickson, F. (1995).Draft of paper entitled: Culture: Its nature and meaning for educators.

Falcón, A. (1993). Latinos in Pennsylvania in the 1990s: A socio-economic profile. Institute for Puerto Rican Policy, 1(3).

Griffith, P. (1996). Relation of parental involvement, empowerment, and school traits to students academic performance. The Journal of Educational Research, 90(1), 33-41.

Grossman, H. (1984). Educating Hispanic students. Charles Thomas Publisher.

Harry, B. (1992). Cultural diversity, families and the special education system: Communication and empowerment. NY: Teachers College Press.

Johnson, V.R. (1993). Parent/Family Centers: Dimensions of Functioning in 28 Schools in 14 States. Boston University: Center on Families, Communities, Schools and Children's Learning.

McGilp, R. & Michael, D. (1994). The home school connection. Portsmouth, NH: Hanneiman.

Nieto, S. (1994). Affirming diversity: The socio-political context of multicultural education. USA: Longman Publishers.

School District of Philadelphia (1995). Children Achieving, Action Design. .

 

 

Appendix A

Questions for Parents

 

1) What are the reasons why most parents do not participate in school activities?

 

 

2) What do you think we can do to motivate parents to participate more?

 

 

3) Do you think that more parents will participate if activities are held in Spanish?

 

 

4) Do you think more parents will participate if activities are held at night?

 

 

5) Does your daughter/son inform you of what goes on in the classroom?

 

 

6) Do you help your daughter/son with her/his homework?

 

 

7) Do you speak and understand English?

 

 

8) Do you work outside of your home?

 

 

9) Do you live with the father (or mother) of your child?

 

 

10) What problems do you face when school personnel only speak English?

 

 

 

Appendix B

Questions for School Personel

 

 

1) What do you think parents understand as to their role in the education of their children?

 

 

2) What is your definition of parental involvement?

 

 

3) How can teachers affect a positive consensus with parents about their role in the learning community?

 

 

4) How can teachers make parental involvement more meaningful to parents?

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