Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

Parents' Involvement in Their Children's Education: The Value of Parental Perceptions in Public Education

Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

Parents' Involvement in Their Children's Education: The Value of Parental Perceptions in Public Education

Article excerpt

Introduction

In 1983, the National Commission on Education published A Nation at Risk-a study concluding that the United States (Winfield, 1991), once a dominant nation, was no longer a forerunner in commerce, industry, and technological innovation. This report issued a warning that the educational system might be a corrosive agent eroding the strength that the United States had as an international leader (Aydin, 2014; Jenkins & Dow, 1996). Dozens of countries outperformed the United States on student achievement, and others boasted of higher college attendance rates (Stewart & Kagan, 2005). Graduation rates were sagging, and racial achievement disparities were wide (De La Ossa, 2005).

As a response to the A Nation at Risk report, legislators wanted to create a plan with the intension of stimulating the American schooling system. Subsequently, 20 years later, The No Child Left Behind (NCLB) legislation introduced to public schools the notion of accountability for the performance of their students (United States Department of Education, 2002). For parents, this legislation led to a heightened awareness of student achievement and, in turn, a greater awareness for schools to maintain higher expectations related to accommodating the needs of children (Brkich & Washington, 2011; Halpern, 2017). Public schools now faced a significant challenge-juggling the dual responsibilities of reinventing education to meet the demands of parents while holding themselves to the standards of state regulations. Consequently, public schools faced a challenge of increased interest of both parents and the state and federal government in a diversification of schooling options (Aydin, Ozfidan, & Carothers, 2017; Shakeel, Anderson, & Wolf, 2016). On the other hand, DeAngelis (2017) argued that, if the aim is to increase the quality of schools available to children, it would be wise for legislators to approve policies that increased the degree of school choice that was available to families.

The NCLB legislation fostered a movement for parental school choice. Acknowledging that this novel movement has gained both staunch supporters and adamant detractors, it has steadily gained ground over time. In addition, the "school choice" has now become synonymous with "parental" or "family" empowerment through choice, and charter schools regularly recruit families as a means of highlighting their experience associated with such schools. In the United States, all 50 states offer some form of school choice options (Crary, 2007). In addition to private schools, religious schools, and home schools, the United States currently has six educational choice options in the public-school sector. Public school choices in the United States include alternative schools, magnet schools, charter schools, schools within schools, online or virtual schools, and open enrollment either within a public school district (i.e., intra-district transfer) or to a different public school district (i.e., inter-district transfer; United States Department of Education, 2005). These schools were first established in the United States in the state of Minnesota in 1992, and since then have expanded throughout the country (Cheng, Hill, Kisida, & Mills, 2017). Currently, students in six states (i.e., Florida, Maine, Ohio, Vermont, Utah, and Wisconsin) are offering government-funded scholarships to attend their school of choice. Arizona, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, and Pennsylvania offer tax credits or tax deductions for educational expenses or contributions to scholarship programs (Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, 2016; Kafer, 2005). Fifteen states provide public school choice within or between districts. Other states continue to offer optional choice programs, target only specific populations, and require parents to pay out of district tuition (Lips & Feinberg, 2006). According to the US Department of Education (2016), there are approximately 2. …

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