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PARENTAL INVOLVMENT, FAMILY STRUCTURE, AND ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT - page 34 / 102

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and unwise to enter the school neighborhood and conduct interviews at the parents’

homes” (2001:85). Whether this warning was based on school officials’ prior attempts to

visit the parents’ homes that went awry is not clear, but it illustrates a divide between

parents and school officials rather than a cohesive effort to improve student performance.

When compared with schools and parents who come together to enhance the education of

students, the absence of social capital in this situation is obvious. The inability of this

group of parents to communicate effectively with school officials is clear and may be

related to low-income, undeveloped social capital, or their own limited experience with

schools.

In the Smrekar and Cohen-Vogel (2001) study, the research subjects, a group of 10

families, included three distinct ethnic groups, Black, Hispanic, and Pacific Islander

(Samoan), and although there were college graduates in the group, the average education

for parents was 6 years (p.85). In spite of the warnings from school officials, the families

were interviewed in their homes. The interviewers were “welcomed warmly and politely”

into the parents’ homes, and “9 of the 10 sets of parents interviewed responded that, if

asked, they would find ways to increase their involvement at home and at school”

(Smrekar and Cohen-Vogel 2001: 85). The fact that these parents were interested and

wanted to become more involved in their children’s education suggests that they are

clearly aware of the need for parental involvement in education, yet they lack the social

capital to make that possible. The researchers’ final conclusion suggests that school

officials’ stereotyped perception of parents as apathetic, lazy, incompetent, or too

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