Staying after School: At-Risk Students in a Compensatory Education Program

By Bram A. Hamovitch | Go to book overview

5 Contradictory Relationships with Parents

This chapter examines the relationships that both OSRP staff and the students have with the students' parents. The staff were found to develop very definite conceptions of the parents, based on their observations of and relations with the students during program hours, and their limited face-to-face and telephone interactions with the parents themselves. OSRP staff perceive the parents to be deficient along a number of dimensions, despite the fact that there is contradictory evidence concerning the kinds of relationships that exist between students and their parents. This chapter also explores the students' perceptions of their parents, indicating that there is a wide range of parent-child relationships that defy simplistic generalizations. It is found that the staff's tendency to negatively evaluate and label the parents allows and even, encourages them to show that they care for their students by adopting a "substitute parent" role with respect to OSRP students. This show of caring does not come without a cost. It is associated with conflict between staff and parents and with student resistance. I conclude the chapter by suggesting that the staff's negative perceptions of parents has its origin in the program's conservative ideology of hope.


DEFICIENT PARENTS

As I noted in chapter 4, OSRP staff perceive their students to be at risk because of their personal inadequacies. There are a number of possible competing explanations to explain the origin of this situation, but the staff have chosen the one that best complements their conservative ideology of hope. Since our system of stratification is viewed as being open and benign, some group or institution must be held responsible for the students' failure to achieve success at school. Within this framework, the nearest and most available group to blame is the parents. In a word, the staff find them to be deficient. This section will more closely explore the staff's thinking on this issue. It is surprisingly consistent, varying little from staff member to staff member. Since Gerald and Jane have the most contact with the parents and had a lot to say to me on this issue, I will allow them to speak on behalf of the other

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