Academic journal article High School Journal

"Parent Involvement Is like Apple Pie" A Look at Parental Involvement in Two States

Academic journal article High School Journal

"Parent Involvement Is like Apple Pie" A Look at Parental Involvement in Two States

Article excerpt

Many legislators and researchers are proclaiming that parental involvement assists in student academic achievement. Although the calling for more parental involvement is evident in literature, there are issues that need to be addressed within the high school. This study looks at one high school, and the issues that teachers, parents, and administrators address while discussing parental involvement.

For some people, apple pie has become synonymous with "all that is good," a feeling of home, and with the American culture. An administrator that was interviewed for this study referred to parental involvement as "like apple pie." For this study, parental involvement in high schools was investigated to determine what type of relationship schools and families share.

Literature

Throughout the past couple of decades, the issue of parental involvement in schools has become increasingly popular. Currently the political right and left are outspoken proponents of more parental involvement within schools. Although parental involvement has been key in several legislative policies, (e.g., Title I), most of the parent involvement strategies occurs in elementary school settings.

Research has shown consistently that with the increase in parental involvement, there is an increase in student achievement (Epstein, 1995; Flaxman & Inger 1992; Hickman & Miller 1995; Lee 1994). Consequently, many schools throughout the nation have begun to introduce strategies to increase parental involvement in schools to include parents as partners (Center on Families, Communities, Schools, & Children's Learning, 1995; Epstein, 1995; Rioux & Berla, 1993).

In our nation's past, researchers have commented that the parents' role in their children's education should only include choosing the school for their child, creating a home atmosphere for social and emotional development of their child, and the shaping of their children's values and morals (Center on Families, Communities, Schools, & Learning, 1995; Breckinridge, 1921; Ramirez, 1999; Ward, 1965). In the 1960s, federal legislation in parental involvement started to take shape with the passage of Head Start, Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Schools Act. More recently, parental involvement was included in Goals 2000 legislation. Today, parents are given the option to "choose" the education for their child in some states through vouchers, magnet, charter and private schooling. Parents are becoming more vocal in what they expect from schools, and wish to be heard when decisions are being considered by schools or school districts (Ramirez, 2000). The present Clinton administration is also encouraging other governmental agencies to look toward the implementation of parental involvement programs within their prospective programs (Ballen & Moles, 1994).

Because such more parental involvement programs are being recommended, and the primary focus of research concerning parental involvement has been in the elementary schools (Wheeler, 1992), research needs to be conducted within the secondary schools to learn how high school communities respond to the issue of parental involvement.

Before venturing into the development of this study, I wish to include my interest in the area of parents and schools. My interest stems from my parents' active involvement in my schooling. My mother was very active in providing "yard duty" supervision, and my father was often seen on his days off from work blowing a whistle and getting the children at my school in lines. In high school, my parents were often present at athletic practices, games, dances, and they volunteered for numerous functions and events. When I began to teach, I noticed that parents at the parochial and urban public high schools where I taught were met with opposition, or were seen merely as avenues of revenue for the school. My colleagues and administrators felt parents were agents of negativity, wanting more for their own children than others, people to "deal with" rather than "work with," part of the "radical right," and "uncaring. …

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