Understanding School Responses to Latina/o Parents at the Middle School Level: A Phenomenological Study of Latina/o Parent Perception in the Provo School District
By: Fidel Ahumada Montero
Published: 02/08/2012
Uploaded: 11/02/2017
Uploaded by: Pocket Masters
Pockets: 2012 (February) Teachers College Columbia University Ed.D. Dissertations, Gottesman Libraries Archive, Historical Dissertations
Tags: district leadership, Education Leadership, latino student education, middle school reform, Parent involvement

Description/Abstract: Latina/o students are the fastest-growing minority student group in the country.
Notwithstanding this growth, Latina/o students are obtaining a subpar education with little regard from policy makers as to the root causes behind the lack of achievement. Across the nation, thousands of Latina/o children are falling behind and are ill preparto enter college and the twenty-first century workplace. Latina/o parents are key stakeholders in education, but have long been ignored in the process. In this study, I employ a qualitative research methodology to explore how Latina/o parents in a demographically transforming district perceive the education their children are obtaining and how the schools respond to them. The study highlights three major findings: (1) The school environment perceived by parents limits their ability to engage with the school stakeholders. Although isolated events of support are visible, they are not systematic in their occurrence.

Parents reported the existence of miedo (fear) of their students being singled out and treated poorly by teachers or other students, miedo of not having support from the staff, and miedo of low academic achievement. Additionally, one-way communication from the school to the home defined how schools engaged with Latina/o parents, and a language barrier complicated the one-way communication. Finally, parents reported the perceived existence of racial micro-aggressions that also created major barriers to their involvement. (2) Parents have resources and assets with potential to support the school. The resources are best defined by the value parents have for education. Contrary to myths about Latina/o parents, their commitment to their children’s education is authentic and grounded in their own experiences. (3) Parents have expectations of an ideal educational environment that include the following characteristics: two-way dialogue, the establishment of confianza (trust), and a physically and emotionally safe environment.