Academic journal article Negro Educational Review

Conclusions: The Future of Family Involvement in Schools in African-American Communities

Academic journal article Negro Educational Review

Conclusions: The Future of Family Involvement in Schools in African-American Communities

Article excerpt

The time is right for us to present new voices and new views of family involvement in schools. Four decades have passed since Martin Luther King's landmark speech. We can use it as a beacon for our vision of the future of African-American children and families. This is our opportunity to build on his "field of dreams", and we must seize the moment. As educational architects, it is our task to draft a plan reflecting our vision and to spell out the basic principles and the sound theoretical framework supporting our design. An open model leaves room for future expansion, change, revision, and progress. Research and lessons from the past can guide us as we begin our dream work and assemble our team. This dream work - the game plan, and the game itself- is exciting and challenging. This project is more worthwhile than any we have attempted previously. The stakes are high. The future of our children and our nation hang in the balance. This is serious business; but, we are ready, and there is hope. The lights have been turned on, and the future looks bright. We now have resources that were not available when King delivered his speech. Today, African Americans are more visible and more successful in education, business, and professional arenas.

Publicity and promotion of "It Takes a Village to Raise a Child" and the "Let No Child Be Left Behind" projects raised awareness, interest, and support from communities and governments. Theory and research in the social sciences and education provide developmental and philosophical foundations and recommendations for methodology and program design. Benefits, barriers, and problems related to family involvement in schools have been identified, and relevant government publications are readily available.

It is our responsibility and our mission to make the dream become a reality. Moreover, it is time to expand the "field of dreams" and to replace the dark glasses clouding our view with multi-focal lenses (which clarify our vision of a positive future for all children and all families). King's dream can become a reality. To believe is to achieve, and this is do-able. It will make a difference because what impacts on the least of us affects all of us.

A Plan for the Future

The future of family involvement in the schools rests with today's teachers and parents who will take what they have learned from the past, establish the philosophical foundations to guide their interactions, incorporate child and family development theory and research into their plans, and use educational, psychological, and sociological constructs and methodologies in their applications (see Sternberg, 1998). What are the primary components of this plan?

* The major dynamic in the action plan for teachers and parents is change. Those with whom they interact, the settings in which they function, and the world they live in all are constantly changing.

* Teachers and parents will develop a guiding philosophy and use it to plan and implement change.

* Teachers and parents will clarify their picture of those involved in the partnership and define the partnership for today's world.

* Teachers and parents will direct their work-to teach, to research, to serve - toward the goals of family/school involvement.

* Teachers and parents will live in the present and dream of the future.

Our Philosophy

The guiding philosophy of Livingstone College's family involvement initiative rests on the principles of equality, respect, and inclusion. "Equal" is not "same". Respect knows no boundaries - color, gender, race, and religion do not determine who should be valued. Inclusion in the sense of belonging, acceptance, and cooperating in collaborative teams is the key to involvement. From this foundation come rules directing and governing our actions: (1) dos and don'ts, (2) similarities - not differences, (3) positives not negatives, (4) strengths not weaknesses, (5) successes not failures, (6) equal but not the same, (7) flexibility and change not status. …

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