A study on the role of the parent in educational decision making from the perspective of parents and teachers
Briscall, Monica A.
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ADeweyan (1916) democratic theoty ofeducation called for the participation ofall citizens in deliberating important educational issues to improve overall student learning. Thus, the move to include parents in educational decision making can be considered to be rooted in democratic principles. To gain greater insight into the issue ofparent involvement in educational decision making, one elementary school was studied and a triangulization method was employed in an attempt to clarify the important issues surrolUlding the move to include parents in the governance ofschools. The three methods to gain information included surveys, interviews, and documentation ofsignificant school events and related work. All ofthe parents and teachers ofthe school were surveyed, 10 parents and 6teachers were interviewed, and related school events were recorded. The survey design was modeled on the Parent Involvement Questionnaire (PIQ) created and reported on by Chavkin and Williams (1987). The results ofthe surveys were used as a guide for the interview questions. An interview outline was developed based on Seidman's (1991) open-ended approach and Patton's (1980) standardized open-ended interview style in which parents and teachers were asked about their experiences and opinions on anmnber ofparent involvement issues. Parents and teachers in this school indicated agreater interest in becoming more aware ofeducational issues such as school budget and school discipline policies. Although the parents indicated agreater interest in school matters and the teachers indicated awillingness to include parents in school matters, both the parents and teachers in this study perceived the role ofthe parent as advisory, not decision making. It was concluded that to ensure ameaningful and functional role for parellts as tlleir p811icipatioll ill educational matters evolves, SCllools must have a clear vision ofthe primary goal ofall schools, namely, to foster and nourish democratic citizens for ademocratic society (Glickman, 1993). Furthennore, intentional practices such as Purkey's (ad) 5-P Relay approach, based on a democratic theory and practice of education, will have to be employed in order to give parents an authentic voice in educational matters and provide an avenue for parents to acquire the necessary skills and lmowledge needed to do so. As schools, school boards, and the Ministry ofEducation implement parent involvement guidelines and policies, developmental needs ofeach school need to be considered to ensure the employment ofdemocratic practices not authoritarian mandates. Parent interest and involvement, at whatever level, should be an important element in the overall move to make schools part ofthe democratic society they were meant to be.