WERA International Research Network (WERA-IRN) Proposal Families, Educators, and Communities as Educational Advocates: Cross National Perspectives

A. Introduction and Overview of the Research Topic
Governments, schools, and researchers around the world call for parent and community involvement in education (e.g., Duncan, 2010; Ontario Ministry of Education, 2010). Parent and community involvement is purported to improve student achievement (Henderson, Mapp, Johnson, & Davies, 2003; Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, 2012), and public participation in policy processes enhances democracy, policy, and education (Barber, 2003; Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, 2003; Orr & Rogers, 2011). There is a growing research base that examines how and why parents, community-based organizations, businesses, universities, unions, professional organizations, and other interest and advocacy groups engage with educators and other decision-makers in education.

Research on Parent Involvement. Traditionally, research on school-based educators’ relationships with families has examined different ways parents are involved in schools (e.g., Chrispeels, 1996; Epstein, 2011); the benefits of parental involvement (e.g., Henderson & Mapp, 2002; LaRocque, Kleiman, & Darling, 2011); the barriers to parent involvement (e.g., Flynn, 2011); parents’ motivation for becoming involved in schools (e.g., Hoover-Dempsey et al., 2005); and strategies for increasing parent involvement in schools and enhancing home-school relationships (e.g., Georgis, Gokiert, Ford & Ali, 2014; Hands, 2013). Much of this of work may be characterized as school-centric; that is, its focus is on the ways parents and communities can support school goals (Baquedano-López, Alexander & Hernandez, 2013).

Other research examines the politics of parent involvement. This work considers how class, race, language, and other social factors affect parent involvement and perpetuate social inequalities (e.g., Baquedano-López et al., 2013; Pushor & Murphy, 2010). The advocacy work of parents with children with special needs in particular is well documented (e.g., Bacon & Causton-Theoharis, 2013; Hutchinson et al., 2014). A related area of research considers the work of formal parent organizations at the local (e.g., school councils and parent-teacher associations), state, and federal levels. This work examines participants’ experiences and organizations’ activities and outcomes (e.g., Leithwood, Jantzi & Steinbach, 1999; Pharis, Bass & Pate, 2005). Yet much of this research focuses on how parents and parent organizations respond to single issues, and fails to consider how parents might interact with other advocacy groups. Continue reading “WERA International Research Network (WERA-IRN) Proposal Families, Educators, and Communities as Educational Advocates: Cross National Perspectives”