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JSPR Vol 34-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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LARS G. BJÖRK
TRICIA BROWNE-FERRIGNO
OLOF JOHANSSON

This special issue of the Journal of School Public Relations (JSPR) is our fourth as guest editors. Like in the previous three issues (fall 2011, winter 2012, and summer 2012), the articles herein present work by international scholars who have studied how school–parent relations are influenced by centralized and decentralized education systems as well as by shifts in national educational policies. We have seen a full range of national political strategies unfold over the past several decades, including purposeful ideological manipulation, deliberate marginalization, and hopeful empowerment. With mixed emotions, we have also observed the lasting impact of these approaches on future generations of citizens, educators, and schools. Importantly, we recognize how scholarship on school–parent relations may be severely limited by protracted political and religious conflict, civil war, and ideological domination. Notwithstanding, these comparative international studies provide insight into parents’ profound sense of responsibility for their children’s education in varying sociocultural, economic, and political contexts. Taken as a whole, the articles published in this four-issue collection provide an opportunity to give voice to international scholars whose work is 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 as guest editors of this special issue 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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Parental Involvement and Participation in German Schools: Insights From Historical, Jurisdictional, and Empirical Perspectives

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STEFAN BRAUCKMANN
GERT GEIßLER
HORST WEISHAUPT

ABSTRACT: This article starts with a historical perspective on parental involvement in German schools’ decision making in the context of historical developments and societal conditions as well as those specific to federal states. Subsequently, a presentation of contemporary school legislation highlights parental rights and duties with respect to parental involvement in school activities and development. Focused against this background are research approaches and empirical findings on parental collaboration and participation in decision-making processes at schools in Germany. The article closes on a summarizing account of the three aforementioned perspectives and an outlook.

In Germany, the school and family hold central positions in children’s upbringing with each bearing unique functions regarding education, care, and socialization. The family fulfills a special role regarding the preparation of children for school entry as well as providing continuing support during children’s school career. According to Döbert (2010), students’ development and academic achievement are strongly influenced by social and cultural conditions in the family. Thus, parents influence their children’s success in learning; thus, parents’ involvement at school is crucial. Consequently, it is appropriate to closely examine the relationship between the family and the school with respect to students’ academic achievement and school effectiveness achievement, particularly with regard to efforts directed at strengthening and promoting school–parent collaboration. Examining literature on the characteristics of six types of school–parent collaboration enhances our understanding of these relationships. According to Epstein (1992, 1996), the six types of collaboration include the following:

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Parent and School Relations in Latvia

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DAINUVITE BLUMA
ILZE IVANOVA

ABSTRACT: Families in Latvia know what is best for their children, and they make a major contribution to their education. Consequently, it is important to build close partnerships between school and family. This article reviews extant research that provides insight into the nature of school–parent relations in Latvia as the nation stands at the crossroads of policy and practice. Examples of extant practices draw on research, development, and current school practices in Latvian schools.

Although terms and characteristics used to describe school–parent relations may appear to be similar across nations, an array of contextual influences shapes how they are understood and enacted. These influences include but are not limited to the historical background, the structure of the education system, the culture (e.g., norms, values, beliefs), and the political philosophies unique to each country. An area of general agreement appears to be a shared understanding that parents are children’s first teachers and thus have singular importance to their continuing education and development through schooling. Consequently, parents are viewed as being the most influential actors in school improvement efforts in most nations. Scholars concur that when parents talk with their children at home, they have a profound influence on their beliefs and attitudes about schools and motivation to be academically successful. At the same time, positive school–parent cooperation is highly dependent on information about and understanding of the educational processes at their children’s school, as well as a shared sense of mutual respect between parents and educators. A critical dimension of the parents’ role in the education process is to serve as their children’s first teachers and then provide continuity as they facilitate their children’s transition from learning within the family to being formally educated at school. Successful schooling is thus dependent on mutual understanding and trust among parents, teachers, school administration, and other school support staff. In a similar manner, school–parent cooperation depends on parents’ awareness of their role in their children’s education and development, their understanding and attitude toward formal education and school, as well as the capacity of teachers and administrators to work skillfully with parents. Examining the multiple and diverse dimensions of school– parent relations in Latvia may contribute to an understanding of how these important relationships enhance the education of children and school effectiveness.

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Parental Trust and Parent–School Relationships in Turkey

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KADIR BEYCIOGLU
NIYAZI OZER
SEMIHA ŞAHIN

ABSTRACT: This study examined the degree and levels of parent trust and involvement in lower secondary and high schools in Turkey. Survey data were obtained from 429 participants working for state schools during the 2012–2013 education years. We used zero-order correlation coefficient, independent samples t test, and, when significant differences were observed between groups, Cohen’s d coefficient. In addition, multiple linear regression analysis was used to determine whether trust in school, school level, and age significantly predict parental involvement. Findings suggest that parents have almost high trust in schools and also participate in school activities.

Research in related literature has identified the importance of parents’ and families’ engagement in their children’s schools, and increased involvement by parents and families often is cited as one of the most important ways to improve schools (Comuntzis-Page, 1996; Nir & Tzili, 2005). The traditional sense of parents’ role in education has been limited with what parents do at home and what schools formally tell them to do in regular meetings in schools. Tschannen-Moran (2001) has thus asserted that “traditional bureaucratic models of schools have stressed the separate responsibilities of schools and families and emphasized the inherent incomparability, competition, and conflict between families and schools” (p. 311). Traditional schools have long been solely responsible for academic topics, whereas families have been attended to the moral, cultural, and religious education of children (Hill & Taylor, 2004).

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School–Parent Relations in Lebanon

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NADA EL MAJZOUB

ABSTRACT: Lebanon is a nation whose history may be depicted as continuous social, political, and sectarian conflict due to European political meddling and a protracted civil war. Although finding common ground in this complex milieu over the past several decades has been challenging, political and educational reforms have been enacted. The role of parents in the education of their children, however, may be characterized as being both limited and school centered. The paucity of empirical research on school–parent relations in Lebanon provides an opportunity for scholars to inform future educational policy processes.

Scholars concur that parents’ involvement in their children’s education may be fundamental to their academic performance in school (Driessen, Smit, & Sleegers, 2005; Epstein, 1994; Hill & Taylor, 2004). However, the nature of parents’ involvement in their children’s education and the school their children attend may be influenced by the national context in which schools are situated (Louis, 2003). Consequently, it is important to understand the historical, religious, social, economic, and political background of Lebanon before one can understand the nature and direction of school–parent involvement. In retrospect, these elements have had a profound influence on people’s lives and offer a framework for examining Lebanon’s future educational challenges and appreciating the complexity of parental involvement in multiple and diverse settings.

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