Medium 9781475824117

Jspr Vol 27-N4

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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 Guest Editor

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KAREN F. OSTERMAN

Projecting significant increases in Hispanic and Asian populations over the next 50 years, the U.S. Census Bureau (2004) predicts that people of color from Hispanic, Asian, and Black populations will compose approximately 50% of the population by the year 2050. Even now, the White population in some states and regions is already a numerical minority (California, 44%; Texas, 49%; District of Columbia, 31%; U.S. Census Bureau, 2006). As Sonia Nieto (2004) points out, however, the term minority is a pejorative one that has as its most essential meaning perceived status differentials, a connotation that extends far beyond and may well outlast any significant shift in numbers. Nieto explains, “Even when groups are no longer a ‘minority,’ the dominant discourse insists tenaciously on maintaining the ‘minority’ status of some groups” (p. 28). In the United States, those groups so designated include American Indians, African Americans, Latinos, and Asian Americans, all people of color.

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Parental Involvement in Latina/Latino-Impacted Schools in the Midwest: Recognizing the Role and Function of Home-Based Knowledge and Practices

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GERARDO R. LÓPEZ AND
VANESSA A. VÁZQUEZ

ABSTRACT: This qualitative research study aims to provide rich narratives of parental involvement in households of newcomer Latino immigrants in the Midwest. A total of 20 families participated in this 4-month research study. Findings suggest that parents do get involved in traditional ways but view consejos (the giving of sage advice) as a form of involvement. Implications for research, theory, and practice are discussed with strong implications for viewing the home sphere as a pedagogical space of familial capital, as well as a rich source of involvement that is often under-recognized in school settings.

Adriving concern for many educators is the low educational attainment among students of underrepresented groups. This is particularly true when it comes to Latinas/Latinos—the fastest growing student population in the United States (Gershberg, Danenberg, & Sanchez, 2004; Suárez-Orozco, 1998; Suárez-Orozco & Páez, 2002). According to Chapa and De La Rosa (2004), more than one-third of Latinas/Latinos are school-age children under the age of 18. The fact that nearly 43% of all Latinas/Latinos have lessthan a high school diploma is also significant because it places enhanced demands on educators and policymakers to search for better ways to educate this population. When one couples these statistics with data indicating the expected growth of the Latina/Latino population in the future, one can recognize the sense of urgency needed to focus on their particular educational plight. In fact, the rising presence of Latinas/Latinos in the United States means that Americans can no longer ignore the social, educational, and economic conditions that affect schooling outcomes for this segment of the population.

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Trouble Don’t Set Like Rain: Minority Status and Black Parents’ Educational Decisions

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MARLENE S. MUNN-JOSEPH

ABSTRACT: Using grounded theory methodology combined with the interpretive lens of critical race theory, this study examines perceptions of minority status by 2 Black parents who have opted out of the public education system. Through the conceptual lens of stereotype threat, 2 contrasting examples illustrate how the perception of minority status affects parents’ construction of perspectives that guide their educational decision making.

An often-repeated saying heard in my home during my childhood and adolescence was “Trouble don’t set like rain.” This was a favorite saying of my mother to my sister and me. This Jamaican folk wisdom spoke to the fact that generally we know when it will rain; the sky exhibits certain conditions—“set.” However, when trouble is on the way, we generally are not provided with any clues. Recently, this saying came to mind as I was working with a group of Black parents from American and Caribbean backgrounds, as a part of a study that I was conducting on the nature of Black parental involvement among the post–civil rights generation. In this ethnographic study of eight parents, all were concerned with the potential for bias within the educational experience of their children. “Trouble don’t set like rain” meant for these parents that they were never quite sure when they or their children would bejudged based on negative stereotypes of African Americans in the United States.

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Reconceptualizing Parent Involvement in Minority Communities: Expanding No Child Left Behind to Improve Student Achievement in African American Schools

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EUSTACE G. THOMPSON

ABSTRACT: The No Child Left Behind parental involvement mandates have a direct impact on the work of administrators. Although the legislation is perceived as comprehensive regarding the implementation of parent involvement activities, the rigorous application of these strategies has not had the desired outcomes in low-performing, predominantly African American schools. In such settings, a traditional conceptualization of these legal requirements has not provided adequate direction to increase the quality of parent involvement that will have a positive effect on student achievement. This article explores the informational, governance, and engagement requirements of No Child Left Behind to determine their effectiveness in promoting African American parent actions that will directly affect student learning. I suggest that No Child Left Behind informational and governance strategies in isolation will not have a powerful impact on parent involvement or student achievement, and I recommend alternative approaches that will more directly support student learning.

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Leadership to Connect Home and School: Educator Perspectives on Parent Involvement for English-Language Learners

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GORDON S. GATES AND
DEBORAH SMOTHERMON

ABSTRACT: The study examines educator beliefs and practices of parent involvement for English-language learners. Central-office personnel, building administrators, and classroom teachers in 6 northeast Texas districts with rapidly growing enrollments of language-minority students were interviewed and observed. We identified 2 approaches for understanding the ways that educators supported and facilitated parent participation. Incorporating and developing Heifetz’s (1994) theory of leadership to interpret findings, the study exposes the challenges in building relationships between home and school. We offer counsel and questions to guide reflection and action in balancing the technical and adaptive work for fostering parent–educator interaction, not only to support learning for English-language learners, but to strengthen schools as places where all benefit, participate, and belong.

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How Improving the Teaching Efficacy of Urban Teachers Encourages Minority Parent Involvement

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SHARON M. BROOKS

ABSTRACT: This article reports the findings of a collective case study of 2 low-performing, predominantly minority urban schools. The research shows that principals were able to improve the quality of parent–teacher relationships using multidimensional strategies that addressed the needs of teachers and parents. The findings suggest that strategies to enhance teachers’ sense of efficacy in the classroom and in their work with parents also contribute to the development of supportive relationships with the community.

This study was completed as an offshoot of a research project, the International Successful School Principalship Project (Giles, Johnson, Brooks, & Jacobson, 2005). The research team investigated challenging schools across seven nations that showed improved academic performance in their students after the arrivals of their present principals. The U.S. contingent focused on principals working in high-needs, high-poverty, rural, and urban schools that were effective in improving students’ state exam scores over time, in comparison to schools with similar demographics. The schools were also recognized by the state, media, and national organizations for student improvement. As a member of the research team, I noticed that two high-poverty, predominantly-minority-student-populated urban elementary schools had extremely high parent visibility.

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Teacher–Parent Cooperation: Strategies to Engage Parents in Their Children’s School Lives

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LOIZOS SYMEOU

ABSTRACT: This article examines the collaboration of 2 teachers with the families of their pupils. The data were collected during an ethnographic study conducted in a rural school in Cyprus. The data set includes individual interviews, focus groups, observations, and the researcher’s journal. These 2 teachers, with different perspectives on parental involvement, adopted different but effective strategies to involve parents actively in their children’s school lives.

Schools are viewed as providing educational opportunities and achieving their aims only insofar as what they offer builds on and directly engages with the fundamental education and “curriculum” that the child experiences at home (Bernstein, 1975; Bloom, 1982; Bourdieu & Passeron, 1990; Coleman, 1990; Lareau, 1987; Marjoribanks, 1979). Not surprisingly, school–family relationships are considered nowadays a significant determinant of the quality of the education provided.

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