Graduation Date

5-2013

Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science

Department or Program

Education

Department or Program Chair

Elizabeth Truesdell, Ph.D.

First Reader

Madalienne F. Peters, Ed.D.

Abstract

The relationship between bicultural parents, low socio-economic parents and the public school system is made tenuous in part by cultural disparities between school officials and parents. The greater the disparity, the more likely parent groups are to be silenced and the more likely they are to refrain from the role of change agents or advocates for school reform. To contemplate what characteristics disadvantaged parent groups should possess to enact desired changes at the school or district level, this study culls from research in several areas of academic literature: parent involvement and student achievement, community organizing, and change management. Each of these areas of research offers insights on how success change is enacted; the characteristics and the attributes groups must have in order to bring about desired changes to processes and outcomes. Parent leaders and principals from low socio-economic status considered to be change agents in their community were interviewed. Their insights reinforce the literature, comment on the nature of the relationship between parents and school, and articulate the difficulty of making change. Open-ended questions relating to the nature of changes undertaken, the efficacy of tactics employed, and perceived deficit thinking on the part of parents and school personnel are addressed. Results indicated that self-efficacy and competence in the English language are key characteristics of parent groups with high levels of engagement.

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