Academic journal article School Community Journal

Reflections and Directions on Research Related to Family-Community Involvement in Schooling

Academic journal article School Community Journal

Reflections and Directions on Research Related to Family-Community Involvement in Schooling

Article excerpt

Abstract

S. Redding noted the many challenges facing research and researchers in family-school-community involvement, and he presented a call to "rally the troops" to respond to a series of concerns. The issue of control over defining the role of schools should be a shared enterprise among the family, the school, and the community, with the individual child as the center. This paper presents reflections on past developments providing the background and reasoning for contemporary practice of family-school involvement across America. The paper provides analyses of research and thought in order to present four recommendations for future directions in development and research for family-school-community involvement programs. The first two recommendations focus on explicitly incorporating family-community involvement knowledge, skills, and values into preservice teacher and administrator licensing programs and studying the resulting effects on aspects of these programs. These recommendations are crucial to implementation of family and community involvement practices as the teacher and the principal serve as key agents for positive family and community involvement in schools. The third recommendation promotes studying the effects of family involvement in character/civic education on student outcomes. The fourth recommendation encourages research on the effects of tying community organizations, including health and social agencies, with the school. Each of these recommendations should serve to point out areas where family-school-community involvement research would be both timely and fruitful.

Key Words: parent involvement, educational research, teacher preservice education, administrator certification programs, civic education, character education, community schools

The Tension for Control

In some countries currently, and 200 years ago in the United States, parent involvement in children's schooling would not be considered a topic worthy of scientific scrutiny (Hiatt-Michael, 2001a). Parents assumed control of children's schooling. In some countries currently, and 60 years ago in the United States, the popular opinion was that the school should direct children's academic endeavors.

This tension between parent and school control of academic endeavors dominates popular culture, political propaganda, governmental legislation, professional action, and parental activism (Hiatt-Michael, 2005a). According to contributors to Promising Practices for Family Involvement in Schooling Across the Continents (Hiatt-Michael, 2005b), this tension exists around the globe. In West Africa, Gambian elders resist sending their children away from the village to public schools because these elders perceive benefits for family and community support and wonder how government schools will affect the upbringing of their youth. Whereas, in South Africa, parents will arrange for children to leave home and attend a former "White" school so that their children have opportunities for future success in life. In Japan, parents and grandparents may jointly labor to support the school and improve their children's academic opportunities and success. In Scandinavian and American schools, teachers may openly complain about parental disinterest or attempts to control teacher decision making. A recent cover of Time titled "What Teachers Hate About Parents" and the accompanying article generated far-ranging lively discussions and published debate (Gibbs, 2005). Phi Delta Kappan's Gallup Poll for 2005 revealed that 58% of those surveyed believe that the schools, not the parents, have the responsibility to close the academic achievement gap between socioeconomic groups (Rose & Gallup, 2005, p. 48).

The Purpose of This Paper

S. Redding noted the many challenges facing research and researchers in family-school-community involvement and presented a call to "rally the troops" to respond to a series of concerns (2005). During the end of the last century, educational researchers compiled a set of research findings on the positive effects of family involvement in public schools. …

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