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Our Research

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Recent research about collective and community-based approaches to parent and community engagement provides insights into equitable parent-school collaboration. Such collaboration entails a more reciprocal partnership between families and schools, in which they shape the agenda together to foster holistic student learning and success. This relationship is characterized by systemic, equity-focused goals (rather than deficit, “fix the parent” aims), roles for parents as experts on their own children and needs (rather than passive recipients of information and help), and strategies that emphasize capacity and relationship-building. Finally, such collaborations address schools and families as part of their broader communities and understand educational change as a political process. Thus, our framework contrasts with deficit-based traditional partnership approaches.

Equitable school-community collaborations entail:

  1. systemic goals within a culture of shared responsibility
  2. strategies that build capacity and relationships
  3. the role of low-income parents of color as experts on their children and communities and fellow educational leaders
  4. context for education reform as political process.

Our current “best practices” hold limited promise for moving to a more reciprocal and synergistic relationship between families, communities, and schools. Rather than continuing to do more of the same, we need “next” practices to transform schools to ensure student succeed (Hargreaves & Fullan, 2012). Our work seeks to develop parent engagement indicators that can provide insight into the cultivation of “next” practices in building more equitable collaboration between parents and schools.

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