Lewis McCoy - Making Public Schools Private Jigsaw group (A Relational…
Lewis McCoy - Making Public Schools Private
Avoiding/Petitioning to Avoid Ms. Baker
The first thing that I learned was it’s her third building in three years and I’d been to her other two buildings. I know that in her last building she would go out for lunch and not come back and leave her kids unattended
The collective response was spearheaded by parents in the wealthy Beaver subdivision. The Beaver subdivision, which was constructed in the 1990s, is situated less than a mile from Cherry Elementary.
Early in our interview she acknowledged that her dual role created some tension and suggested that as an employee of the district she was not free to divulge her insider knowledge to other parents in the school
didn't tell anyone she was leaving
Several parents repeated the rumors of Ms. Baker’s past absences to me, and a few even said that she had been chronically absent in the present academic year
he petition featured two demands:
(1) the investigation of Ms. Baker and
(2) assurance that the children of the parents who signed the petition would not be assigned to Ms. Baker’s classroom, regardless of the results of the investigation
Through weak social ties, discussion of Ms. Baker’s alleged transgressions traveled and ultimately coalesced into an actionable concern.18 Parental disquiet was formalized by the creation of a petition that was circulated among Cherry Elementary parents
A Relational Model Of Parental Engagement
children were sent home with homework assignments, homework logs, and numerous program announcements; this did not include information sent by regular mail and email. The different ways parents engaged with these school announcements became clear to me when I found that low-income families were not responding to mailed requests to participate in my research project
Schools are complex organizations with unique cultures that help shape and structure parental engagement. It is not enough to have a parent who is interested in being engaged; schools and their staff shape and broker what is appropriate or desirable parental engagement.
such a simplistic model under considers the dynamics that exist between home and school and between different families in the same setting.
elationships as they are affected by family background, cultural capital, institutional reception, and desired outcomes, as well as the relationships between groups
formal rules can include school-wide policies such as how to request a teacher or classroom-level policies such as when baked goods can be brought to school. At the school level, formal rules are created by building administrators or dictated by the central administration
information is a crucial resource that can be a gateway to other education- related opportunities. The structure of networks and the information that was transmitted to families allowed them to gain access to official school- related events as well as to information that was not official but was meaningful
In Cherry and River Elementary Schools where I conducted observations, these formal rules were conveyed at the beginning of the year during school orientation, in PTA meetings, or in classroom newsletters. Once the rules distributed, it was assumed that all families understood them
These small differences in availability of time, paired with educational attainment differences, led to widely divergent understandings of and engagement with local offerings. The administration of formal information, almost exclusively in written form, sorted families into and out of opportunities
Teacher Selection and Community- School Connections
The location that black families occupied in RAPS was further affected by the relationship between black and white families and competition. In this section I present a case from Cherry Elementary School about parental organizing and interracial competition for the resources of quality teachers.
Teacher selection was a popular practice among parents but not among building staff. Each school building was responsible for determining its own protocol around teacher selection. In both of the schools I observed, principals did not prefer the process of teacher selection, but they still had to struggle to manage the individual and collective efforts of parents to do so.
Rolling Acres schools in the primary grades did not offer gifted or accelerated courses or programs. As a result, parents who wanted to customize their children’s education often lobbied to get their child into a preferred teacher’s class
During my time in the field there was a consistent narrative among black and white administrators and teachers that low-income families, who were predominantly black, did not participate in school matters, despite outreach
Rolling Acres allow for a more relational consideration of parental engagement, which takes into account race and class dynamics both individually and between groups.
They argue that “students and parents enter the educational system with dispositional skills and knowledge that differentially facilitate or impede their ability to conform to institutionalized expectations.”
Lareau’s model is parsimonious, but it notably underestimates the importance of race in home-school connections. Lareau and her colleagues do not ignore the role of race, but they are dismissive of it.
This view is dangerously unsystematic because it ignores the pervasive influence of race on black and white lives and the relations between groups. As a result, when individuals must negotiate racial hazards, the causes of such hazards are seen to be (un) identifiable malevolent individuals, not groups or institutions
“Their parents just don’t care.”
The belief that engaged parents can help salve educational woes is, in part, supported by research findings that parental involvement and participation are associated with positive educational outcomes
A standard division is between parental involvement, which occurs predominantly outside the classroom or school, and parental participation, which occurs predominantly within the classroom or school
based analysis of race-related issues that I subscribe to would discuss the relevance of race, not just to black families but aiso to white families, as they operate in the same spaces and attempt similar tasks, like educational customization
Natural Growth Concerted Cultivation
Socioeconomic Status Race Gender Family Type
Formal and Informal Rules Local History
This desire to increase the chances of their child’s success cut across social class and race.
the tailoring of their child’s education to match their own ambitions and values
Often parents engage with the school in order to monitor a child’s academic progress and maintain a supple relationship with the school; they can also use their presence in and familiarity with the school as a basis for leveraging more educational resources for their children
Nearly all parents are interested in their children getting a quality education, but not all parents are able to influence their children’s educational pathway
As eager parents attempted to engage with schools to customize their children’s education, their reception by school staff ultimately ushered parents into the role of consumer or beneficiary.
Sometimes the collateral consequences of customization result from casual oversight; at other times they are the result of families hoarding resources and opportunities
In many districts this would look like parental lobbying for Advanced Placement or accelerated classes, but Rolling Acres Public Schools at the elementary level did not place students on different tracks
Parental Engagement Among Poor and Middle-Class Black Families
For a low-income wage worker, being suspended from one’s job would be worthy of concern, but Ms. Martin seemed unfazed. She gladly accepted the suspension because she saw value in the messages she was communicating to her superiors. From her perspective, it was crucial that her managers know that her religious faith mattered and would not be shuttered. She also felt that black customers at her restaurant received less favorable treatment than whites and that the matter should be officially redressed.
His non-ringing endorsement became more understandable over the course of the school year, when I came to learn that Mr. Marks and Mr. Tyler, the school principal, identified Ms. Martin as a “problem parent.”
examine the ways staff treated two black mothers, one middle class and one poor. To capture the intersection of race and class issues, I rely in particular on Bourdieu’s notion of habitus to make sense of their differing levels of success at engaging school staff
Schools and their staffs are important brokers of parental engagement, particularly parental participation. Outwardly, schools and their staff say they desire high levels of engagement and participation from all parents
The pattern of direct confrontation that Ms. Martin exhibited at work and at school created tense relationships and rarely resulted in desirable outcomes. The tension between her and Mr. Marks continued to build over the year, eventually ending her classroom participation and curtailing her broader engagement.
Ms. Martin and Ms. Towles shared some characteristics but were also different in several ways. Both were single mothers. Both had limited contact with male caregivers for their children. Both were active in their children’s education and desired to be more engaged. Importantly, their pedigrees differed
I differentiate their experiences by class, but these parents’ ability to operate with authority at work and at school was circumscribed by race when they interacted with school staff and other parents. Race and class worked together to curtail parental engagement and educational customization opportunities for black families in the local public schools.
The missing contact information for Ms. Martin and the other black families may have simply been an artifact of their lack of attendance at the first open house, but it had consequences for their children’s participation. The nearly exclusive reliance on written communication to convey information further posed a burden for low-income families, who may have had less access to email and other technology-dependent channels.
Shaping Beneficiary and Consumer Roles
parents, over time, changed their strategies of engagement with schools based on their success or failure
attributable to parental dispositions and child-rearing strategies that were social class
beneficiary role was more common among black parents in Rolling Acres Public Schools
It was common for white parents to assume the role of consumer. Consumer parents viewed schools as a customizable resource, and they fashioned schools to fit their children’s educational and social developmental needs.
desires were met with institutional cultures and structures that guided parents into specific roles
Beneficiary parents often followed the school’s programming and suggestions with the hope of ensuring that their children received a “good education.”
The home-school relationship develops and shifts through a recursive process. It is not a simple unidirectional or static relationship. It is iterative and cumulative. As families engage and re-engage schools and their employees, they are endowed with greater or less confidence in their ability to customize their child’s education
Perceived Background Formal and Informal Rules Local History
Socioeconomic Status Race Gender Family Type Length of Residence