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In this period of intense demographic change and educational reform that strongly emphasizes the imperative of family engagement, yet implicates minority culture parents as not being involved, it behooves the field of education to take a closer look at the rigidity that schools utilize in their normalized perceptions and practices of parental involvement. Effective involvement can consist of a number of different activities, but only a few are acknowledged in educational discourse. Therefore, it is important to hear the perspectives of families of other cultures in order to bring to light new understanding that will assist schools in building stronger partnerships with under-served families.
Much research surrounding family engagement has been conducted, including some that focuses on immigrant populations. However, engagement between rural northwest Iowa schools and the rapidly growing Latino population has not been studied. At the same time, Iowa academic outcomes for Latino youth continue to lag behind those of the majority population. A possible solution to this issue is to enhance school-family partnerships, but we must also consider the culturally distinct ways that we perceive and practice engagement.
This study provided space for the voices of marginalized families to be heard in this important conversation regarding barriers that hinder Latino families full access to partnerships with their local schools. By listening to the responses of the Latino community regarding their perspective on family engagement using in-depth interviews via an ethnographic approach, I was able to uncover new insight that will enhance school efforts to foster a deeper sense of community which could positively impact student outcomes.
Advisor: John Raible