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A Dying Heart: Parent Involvement in Schools


A Dying Heart: Parent Involvement in Schools

Camille E. Leach

Georgetown College

EDU 597

A Dying Heart: Parent Involvement in Schools



The heart is made up of four different areas (also known as chambers)
two chambers on the left
and two chambers on the right

. The
four areas all work together for one purpose

pump blood throughout the human

body. The heart is an important
part of the human body, and
without a proper functioning heart, the human body will develop issues that can become
problematic. Teachers who
work in lower income schools face challenges every day. A
challenge that remains consistent in today’s classroom is the lack of parent involvement. Parent
involvement is a problematic issue that will be addressed

this study. The
will discuss
nd identify

reasons why parent involvement is lacking (or
) in lower income schools,
and the effects it has on all stakeholders (the parents, teachers,
and the school). All
stakeholders represent a different area of the
. Th
e school encompasses all stakeholders, so
this study will focus mainly on the effects it has on the parents, teachers, and their student.

A Dying Heart: Parent Involvement in Schools


Heart Pain: Introduction

The Kentucky Department of

determined as of
August 2011, Kentucky
has a total of 174 school districts and 1, 233 public schools.

In every school district and in every
, parent involvement is an important component a district’s and school’s CSIP
(Comprehensive School Improvement Plan). Paren
t Involvement is crucial to the development
and success of any student.

KDE determine what is a lower income school.
The Rural and Low
Income Schools (RLIS)
Program is designed to assist rural school districts in using Federal resources more effectivel
y to
improve the quality of instruction and student academic achievement.
The schools that use this
program are called Title I schools.
The U.S. Department of Education gives a detailed outline of
what makes an elementary and secondary school a Title I s
chool, it states

The purpose of this title is to ensure that all children have a fair, equal, and significant opportunity to obtain
a high
quality education and reach, at a minimum, proficiency on challenging State academic achievement
standards and state

academic assessments. This purpose can be accomplished by

(1) ensuring that high
quality academic assessments, accountability systems, teacher preparation
and training, curriculum, and instructional materials are aligned with challenging State academic

standards so that students, teachers, parents, and administrators can measure progress against
common expectations for student academic achievement;

(2) meeting the educational needs of low
achieving children in our Nation's highest
schools, limit
ed English proficient children, migratory children, children with disabilities, Indian
children, neglected or delinquent children, and young children in need of reading assistance;

(3) closing the achievement gap between high

and low
performing children,
especially the
achievement gaps between minority and nonminority students, and between disadvantaged
children and their more advantaged peers;

(4) holding schools, local educational agencies, and States accountable for improving the
academic achievement of

all students, and identifying and turning around low
performing schools
that have failed to provide a high
quality education to their students, while providing alternatives
to students in such schools to enable the students to receive a high
quality educa

(5) distributing and targeting resources sufficiently to make a difference to local educational
agencies and schools where needs are greatest;

(6) improving and strengthening accountability, teaching, and learning by using State assessment
systems de
signed to ensure that students are meeting challenging State academic achievement and
content standards and increasing achievement overall, but especially for the disadvantaged;

(7) providing greater decision

making authority and flexibility to schools and

teachers in exchange
for greater responsibility for student performance;

A Dying Heart: Parent Involvement in Schools


(8) providing children an enriched and accelerated educational program, including the use of
schoolwide programs or additional services that increase the amount and quality of instru

(9) promoting schoolwide reform and ensuring the access of children to effective, scientifically
based instructional strategies and challenging academic content;

(10) significantly elevating the quality of instruction by providing staff in pa
rticipating schools
with substantial opportunities for professional development;

(11) coordinating services under all parts of this title with each other, with other educational
services, and, to the extent feasible, with other agencies providing services
to youth, children, and
families; and

(12) affording parents substantial and meaningful opportunities to participate in the education of
their children.

Students who attend these schools are from different socio
economic backgrounds,
parent househo
lds, adverse circumstances, and non
supportive parents.

From the 1, 233
public schools, 873 of the schools are funded through title one.

The purpose of this study is to discuss r
easons why parent involvement is

lacking or

nonexistent in lower income scho

I will investigate to find the reasons why parents are not
involved and the effe
cts it has on teachers, parents, and their student

Symptoms of the Heart Pain: Literature Review

Why are parents not involved in their child’s education? It is a question that baffles
teachers. It baffles teachers because a child needs more than their teacher’s support to be
successful in school. But the fact of the matter is teachers have become mo
re of a parent to these
students and are wearing more hats than every expected. Teachers are wearing the hat of: a
mother, a father, a referee, a counselor, a nurse, a mediator, a disciplinarian, a nutritionist, a
police officer, and a friend; all in whic
h a child needs to successful and self

Parents are not involved because of their attitude towards the school’s administration and
teachers, their personal experiences in school, environmental factors, and life circumstances

influences th
eir involvement in their child’s education. In a research article entitled,
Why Urban
A Dying Heart: Parent Involvement in Schools


Parents Resist Involvement in their Children's Elementary Education

Peter McDermott and
Julia Rothenberg,
they conclude their findings and refer to other resources on

involvement in schools. “
In the past, parental support was always thought to be a critical
component of education, and teachers assumed, whether accurately or not, that families
supported their efforts and expectations for children's learning. Ye
t in contemporary society
issues about parental support and involvement are complicated by diverse family arrangements
and vast socio
cultural differences among classroom teachers, children and families. In
particular, urban families are often marginalized

from everyday school life by poverty, racism,
language and cultural differences, and the parents often perceive that public education is
designed for children from middle class, white families at the expense of others (Oakes &

There are a variety of reasons why low income urban parents resist involvement
in school activities, but certainly cultural and communication differences between teacher and
families lie at the

heart of the problem. Au and Mason (
) found that when teachers'
conversation styles match that of the community, children are more able and eager to participate
in classroom acti
vities. Heath (
) discovered that children will achieve more when their home
language patterns and values for literacy resemble that of the school. Cazden (
) showed that
teachers who are familiar with children's conversational styles, including the uses of silence, are
more successful in their instruction than teachers who are not.

Ruby K. Payne wrote a book entitled,
Framework for Understanding Poverty
In the book she
writes about misconceptions believed by each (lower, middle, wealthy) class, she also provides
readers a chance to engage in learning and confront their misconcept
ions or beliefs by having
readers complete surveys and questionnaires. Throughout the book she tells stories about real
A Dying Heart: Parent Involvement in Schools


people living in poverty and debriefs about the situation and important point’s readers need to
recognize and learn from that particula
r situation.

The cartoon picture by John Louthan reads, “I’m afraid your daughter isn’t paying
attention.” Unfortunately this happens in the lower income schools when parents are not
invested in their child’s education
the child becomes unmotivated and

uninterested to learn.
Because of what the parent does it affects their child and their teacher. The child is the one who
really suffers because the child is not asked to be in the world or to born in a life of poverty or
problems. In the New King Jame
s Version bible it reads, “Behold, children are the heritage from
the Lord, The fruit of the womb is a reward (Psalm 127: 3).” Children are blessings that are
supposed to be loved, cherished, and treasured. Teachers are being placed in the role of moldin
a child academically, socially, emotionally, and cognitively. When teachers are placed in this
role this leaves the teacher feeling frustrated, exhausted, stressed and over worked; feeling these
emotions may also make a teacher give up, develop some hea
lth problems, or choose another
career field. Both the teacher and student suffer tremendously, whether an uninvolved parent
realizes it or not. So something has change
the relationship between the parent and teacher and
the parent and child.

A Dying Heart: Parent Involvement in Schools


In Ron Cla
The E
xcellent 11
, he writes, “Developing a good relationship with your
students’ parents is crucial to having a successful school year. When parents know that you
respect them and want to work closely with them in order to help their child, they are
far more
willing to help you in any way possible …(pg. 223).” He continues to write ways to help
teachers stay involved with parents. He mentions staying in contact with parents. Staying in
contact with parents can happen in


these days. E
very teacher, every school, and
every school district has their own unique ways to exchange contact with all stake holders.

Diagnoses of the Heart: Background of Subjects

The subjects for this study are my

third grade

students and their parents and or guardians.
All participants reside in Winchester, Kentucky in the Clark County Public School District. All
students attend the same elementary school, Shearer Elementary. Shearer Elementary is a title
one school. This

school is ranked 648 out of 704 schools, according to the KCCT (Kentucky
Core Content Test) Reading and KCCT Mathematics of 2010
2011. This school is also ranked
the lowest performance school in the Clark County Public School District.

The subjects are
aucasian except for an African American child and her family. This study will be implemented
during the spring semester of the year 2012.

According to the U.S. Census,
in 2010, Clark County, Kentucky had a population of
35,613 of which 92.2% were White an
d 4.8% Black. The Per Capita Income was $23,328 and
the Poverty rate was 14.5%.

Heart Palpations: The Risk Factors

A Dying Heart: Parent Involvement in Schools


The (external/internal validity) risk factors that can threaten this study are
environmental. I believe environmental


will play a major part in the amount of

I will have

and if the
participants will be consistent

throughout the semester.

The Heart Examine: Results

The purpose of the project was to identify reasons why parent involvement in schools
was lacking in lower income schools.
The amount of participation involved in the study was
low; but it goes to prove the point that parent involvement in lower income sch
ools is almost
vanished in this school.

After conducting the survey results, the main reasons why parents are not

they admit to

are presented below.

Reason 1

Parents do not have an understanding of their child’s
grade level program. Due to lack of education/Illeteracy

Reason 2

The parents were unsure if the staff sets high
expectations for my child’s achievement.

Reason 3

The parents didn’t feel they had the skills to volunteer.

Reason 4

The parents didn’t have child care.

Due to enviromental factors
weather, transportation,
living conditions, work situation, etc.

A Dying Heart: Parent Involvement in Schools


The Heart Attack:
Implementations Broken Down

February 2012, the school had two events that were advertised to encourage all my
participants to come and get involved. The events were advertised in various ways to get parents
and students engaged, for instance the Shearer Shark Morning News, letters t
o parents, the
school website, and the school marquee.

Event 1, took place during the day it was the class Valentine’s Party. The student’s
expectation was to bring any treat and or valentines to school. The parent expectation was to
supply their student with a treat and or valentines; and volunteer in the c
lassroom during the

*Reasons that influenced parent involvement are the time of day the event occurred and
the idea of not have the skills to volunteer.

**Effects: In this event, only two parents showed up (and one of the two parents was the
homeroom parent). However
, the

parents did help their student by bringing in treats,
valentines, and even allow some to make their own valentine
mailboxes that weren’t

The students and the parents enjoyed their time
at the party. The students
showed their gratitude
and humility when they were given attention during the craft activity, while conversing with
each other (and a parent), and their help when being served a treat.

Event 2 was our school

s Math Night. The purpose

the event was to
invite parents and
their students to a fun, learning, and engaging event. The event incorporate free food and
displayed the numerous was a student can learn and enjoy Math. Math can be enjoyed through
physical activity, technology, board games, and other

on activities. Also, at Math Night
A Dying Heart: Parent Involvement in Schools


the parents had the opportunity to learn ways to teach and use Math at home. Teachers provided
parents the knowledge to help their student
learn and

grow in this content area. Secondly,
parents had the opportuni

get set up and learn how to use Parent Portal to our

Infinite Campus. On the Parent Portal, parents can look up their

grades and
assignments; this way the parents have a tool to keep up with their

students’ progress and it can
eate dialogue between the teacher, the parent, and the student.

*Reasons that influenced parent involvement are the environment risk factors
transportation and the weather.

**Effects: Math Night had less than fifty people come out and on
ly th


their parents (of my participants for this study)
out of twenty six
participated. I was able to have
conferences and the students took pride in showing their parents what they were doing in schools
and what math skills they know how to do

fluently (like addition, subtraction, multiplication, and
division). Parents took pride in the fact that now they know how to continue what their student
is learning at school to their home. Parents left that night equipped with tools to help make their

student become successful in Math, as well as in school.

March 2012, the school had two more events that were advertised to encourage all my
participants to come and get involved. The events were advertised the same way as they were in

Event 3, in March the participants of the study were presented with the opportunity to
complete the school survey and my project survey. The turnaround time for the completion of
A Dying Heart: Parent Involvement in Schools


the survey was a day for the school survey and a week for my survey. I used

both surveys during
this project.

*Reasons that influenced parent involvement are time frame and the parents are illiterate.

**Effects: Results are noted in previous section.


was our school’s Science Fair


One Night. The purpose of thi
s event
was to display
the student Data Folder (a visual measurement method (i.e. chart, bar graph, etc.)
used for students by students to record their grades on assessments), also display
all classrooms
Science Fair projects

and judge all fourth and fifth

graders individual projects. The Spring Book
Fair was going on as well. Throughout the night, prizes were awarded to students who read for
at least ten minutes and participated in other activities.

*Reasons that influenced parent involvement are the e
nvironment risk factors
transportation and the weather.

**Effects: The turnout was minimal. I had the opportunity to meet with new parents
I’ve never met before. I had seven students and their parents/guardians out of twenty six
students sh
owed up. The students were very enthusiastic and excited to talk about our class
project and their role. The students also showed their Data Folder, which showed growth over
the course of the year in Reading and Spelling. And because the parents/ guardi
ans were able to
see the joy and the feeling of accomplishment their student felt, the parents in return now have
the desire to be more invested in the student’s education.

Heart Recovery: Presentation and Future Follow

A Dying Heart: Parent Involvement in Schools


Participation is the heart of my stu
dy, and it is just disheartening to see that the school
and I try so hard to make it as convenient as possible for parents to get involve, but the parents
remain nonparticipants. I discussed my research project with my school principal. She tabulated
survey results (for my classroom and the entire school) and in a faculty meeting we discussed
the results and brainstorm possible solutions to our problem areas as a staff, according to the
results. I stated my opinion about the results, and as a staff we
had crucial conversations about
the parent survey results. This was an enlightening experience, I truly learned a lot from the
discussions and from doing this research project.

Saving a Dying Heart: Conclusion

The results show some authentic, unaddressed barriers that prevent parents
from being involved in lower income schools. It is more than just environmental
risk factors that create barriers, it is also: the school environment (parents feeling
welcomed, com
fortable, accepted as they are, and presented opportunities to help);
the parents own schools experiences; the parents little to no educational
background; the parents inability to read or write; and the parents having the
cultural mindset of being complac
ent living in poverty or in their current living
state. All of these barriers quickly came to surface, while I was conducting my
study. I realized that as a teacher, I have to assume nothing and continue to have an
open mind and a heart of understanding
to all my parents and students. Every
parent and student has a past and it is my job as a teacher to not let their past
hinder their potential to be their very best parent or student.

A Dying Heart: Parent Involvement in Schools


This study addressed the
of the matter which is parent involvem
ent. To change the
lack of parent involvement in lower income schools


takes all areas of the heart to work
When all stakeholders (
the parents, teachers, students, and the school
) involved

as one
, success will be made
because all would be contributing to a
healthy heart.

A Dying Heart: Parent Involvement in Schools



Bender, D.L, Leone, B., Wekesser, C. (1991).
America’s Children: Opposing Viewpoints
San Diego, CA: Greenhaven Press, Inc.

Berk, L. (2001).
Awakening Children’s Minds: How Parents and Teachers Can Make A

New York: Oxford University Press, Inc.

Clark, R. (2004).
The Excellent 11.

New York: Hyperion.

Title I

Improving The

Achievement Of The Disadvantaged
. Retrieved from:


Louthan, J. Retrieved from:

McDermott, P., & Rothenberg, J. (2000, October). Why urban parents resist involvement
in their children'
s elementary education [61 paragraphs].
The Qualitative Report

(3/4). Available:

Payne, R. K. (1996).
Framework for Unders
tanding Poverty
. Texas: Process, Inc.

Gough, D.

School Climate: Urban Parents'

Kentucky Department of Education. Retrieved From:


School Digger.com. Retrieved From:


U.S. Census Bureau:
State and County Quick Facts


A Dying Heart: Parent Involvement in Schools