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Jspr Vol 32-N3

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The Journal of School Public Relations is a quarterly publication providing research, analysis, case studies and descriptions of best practices in six critical areas of school administration: public relations, school and community relations, community education, communication, conflict management/resolution, and human resources management. Practitioners, policymakers, consultants and professors rely on the Journal for cutting-edge ideas and current knowledge. Articles are a blend of research and practice addressing contemporary issues ranging from passing bond referenda to building support for school programs to integrating modern information.

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Notes From the Editors: Introduction to Special Issue—International Perspectives on School–Parent Relations

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TRICIA BROWNE-FERRIGNO

LARS G. BJÖRK

This special issue of the Journal of School Public Relations (JSPR) is our third as guest editors. As in the previous two (fall 2011 and winter 2012), the articles here present work by international scholars who have studied the dynamics of the centralization and decentralization of educational policymaking to enhance parent involvement. These international comparative studies provide insight into the deep sense of responsibility that parents have for their children’s education and the political structures ostensibly created to enhance parents’ decision-making processes and school engagement activities. Taken as a whole, these articles in this three-issue collection are highly relevant to our understanding of national educational reform movements in the United States and other countries. We are indebted to Ted Kowalski and the editorial team of the JSPR for supporting this international endeavor. They joined us and the external reviewers in ensuring that articles were subjected to multiple blind peer reviews and held to the rigorous review criteria set by JSPR.

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School–Parent Relations in Victorian Schools

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DAVID GURR

LAWRIE DRYSDALE

DONALD M. WALKLEY

ABSTRACT: This article provides commentary that focuses on school–parent relations in Australia through exploration of schools in the state of Victoria across three aspects: school–parent partnership, parental involvement in the governance of schools, and parental involvement in school accountability processes. Parental involvement is typically at a level controlled by the school, rather than a more participatory and reciprocally influential activist level. At a time when there is a renewed emphasis on autonomy for schools in Victoria, it is suggested that there is urgency for research focused on an activist orientation, rather than the controlled parental involvement currently evident.

While it is clear that family background is important to student success at school (Hattie, 2009), the study of school–parent relations in schools is an underresearched area, perhaps reflecting the changes over the past century in the roles that parents play in schools, with greater parent involvement a relatively recent phenomenon. Successful school–parent partnerships are important for school success for several reasons. Parents are the primary and continuing educators for their children (Saulwick Muller Social Research, 2006), and without engaging with families, student outcomes are likely to be lower than they should be (Leithwood & Steinbach, 2003). In their review of literature on successful schools, Leithwood and Steinbach provided a convincing case that for schools in challenging circumstances to achieve outstanding outcomes, school personnel must work with families to influence family educational culture and improve the social networks available in schools. Parent involvement in education is positively linked to academic performance, school attendance, student behavior and discipline, the overall quality of school programs (Fan & Chen, 2001; Leithwood & Steinbach, 2003; Michael, Dittus, & Epstein, 2007), and knowledge and understanding of school programs and activities (Saulwick Muller Social Research, 2006).

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The Role of Parental Involvement in India: A Context-Based Review

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RC SARAVANABHAVAN

SHEILA SARAVANABHAVAN

N. MUTHAIAH

ABSTRACT: The article presents a historical overview of education in India, followed by a background on current demography, governance structures, and status. The role of parent involvement is traced from ancient times to the modern era to highlight how this phenomenon has evolved. A review of recent national policies stemming from the 2009 Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act and the few available studies on this subject reveals a national aspiration to decentralize educational governance and involve parents at the community level. An emerging profile of parent involvement and the challenges to fully realize this national objective are discussed.

India has had a long history of formal education since prehistoric times. Even before the birth of a written language there, the Vedas in Sanskrit language were imparted strictly in an oral format for at least 800 years beginning 2000 B.C.E. During 1200 B.C.E., the verses from the Rig Veda were first believed to have been transcribed into a written form (Altekar, 2009). Typically, a monastic form of education was dominant during this period (Blackwell, 2004). In the later periods, another system of schooling, called Gurukul (boarding and learning at the home of the teacher), came into existence. Male children from noble and upper-caste families stayed and learned at the homes of sages. They were taught a variety of subjects, from religious to science education (Prabhu, 2006). It is also important to note that until the era of colonialism, education catered to the dominant religion of the period (i.e., Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Islam). An exception to this is the Tamil literature from the Sangam period (300 B.C.E. to 300 C.E.). Sangams were academies where poets, both men and women, from varied social and professional backgrounds composed poems on human experiences. Sangam literature was later categorized into two anthologies, one comprising poems on inner aspects of human life (Agam) and the second on external aspects of human experiences (Puram). While poems from the Agam section focused on themes such as love and sexual experiences, the Puram-area poems extolled values such as valor, philanthropy, and customs. This literature excluded reference to religion, and it also remains as evidence for women’s scholarship and their role in these academies in that ancient period (Sastry, 1955; Singh, 2009).

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Parental Involvement in School Governance and Decision Making in Israel

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ADAM E. NIR

RONIT BOGLER

ABSTRACT: A review of the memorandums set by the Israeli Ministry of Education reveals that they stress the importance of parental involvement for schools and children. A review of studies that focused on parental involvement in Israeli school governance suggests that parents’ participation is usually confined to the provision of funds, equipment, or other everyday needs. We assert that the traditional assumption—that educators are the only ones who know what is best for children—should be replaced by a more democratic approach recognizing the unique contribution of parents to the well-being of children and schools.

For several decades now, the issue of parental involvement has challenged researchers and practitioners engaged in school reform. A review of the literature suggests, however, that little agreement exists regarding the meaning of parental involvement (Bastiani, 1993, 1997; Crozier, 1999, 2000; Epstein, 2001; Henderson & Berla, 1994; Vincent, 2000), and the term is thus used interchangeably in reference to different qualities. This variance is expressed in the six-category classification suggested by Epstein (2001), who distinguished between (1) parenting, communicating, volunteering, and learning at home, referring to parental involvement intended to improve children’s learning, and (2) decision making and collaborating with the community, referring to parents’ involvement in the governance of schools. Hence, parental involvement literature can be divided into two primary categories: home-centered and school-centered involvement.

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Building Social, Human, and Cultural Capital Through Parental Involvement

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LARS G. BJÖRK

WAYNE D. LEWIS

TRICIA BROWNE-FERRIGNO

ANTHONY DONKOR

ABSTRACT: This article examines the relationship between schools and society in the United States and uses human, social, and cultural capital theories to reframe the discussion of the role of schools in nurturing parent engagement. We argue that the ramifications of parent engagement in schools transcend functionalist ideas of complying with state and school district regulations, stimulating higher levels of academic achievement, and cultivating better classroom behavior. Rather, we posit that when parents have voice and agency in educating their children, these experiences shape expectations for interactions within the broad community and, indeed, society.

An emerging international conversation about school– parent relations provides insight into the relationship between schools and society and heightens a shared and deep sense of responsibility for the education of children. Recent examinations of international reform movements suggest that these efforts are accompanied by devolution of authority to parents and their representatives, often through school- and community-based governing bodies. It is not surprising that the over the past decade, literature on parent–school relations focused on issues relating to governance (e.g., enabling legislation, organizational structures, decision-making processes), which underscores the difficulty of matching political rhetoric with the reality of practice. Significant by their absence are discussions of how parent voice and agency may contribute to deep structural changes in society. In this regard, it is important to examine how parents’ participation in schools may alter the way that they perceive themselves as being instrumental in the lives of their children, influential members of their communities, and contributors to society. Although substantive parent involvement in school-based decision-making processes may be an elusive goal, it is related in very fundamental ways to building long-term social and human capital. We frame this discussion by examining the relationships between schools and society in the United States, linkages between parent involvement and student learning outcomes, and tenets of social and human capital.

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