How middle class families can make urban schools better

April 26th, 2009 - 10:52 am ICT by ANI  

Washington, Apr 26 (ANI): Middle-class parents can have an impact on urban education, but whether it is beneficial or sustainable that depends on the attitude of parents themselves, according to a new Temple University study.

Owing to the current economical scenario, more middle-class families are passing on private schools in favour of the local public school. Various educational studies claim that the move should be welcomed by urban school districts in particular.

Studies show urban schools benefit educationally from an influx of middle class students and parents because of the resources (most notably time and money) that accompany them.

But, the latest study has claimed the attitude of middle-class parents decides their impact on urban education.

Professors Erin Horvat and Maia Cucchiara of the College of Education found that schools with middle-class parental participation fare better when the parents focus on making the school as a whole better instead of just making the school better for their child only.

For the study, the researchers analysed two urban schools and interviewed parents in each.

They said that because of the power that middle-class parents bring in terms of resources and know how, class was more of a deciding factor when it comes to searching a school for one’s child.

“The resources that these parents can bring are linked to class. If you’re a parent that has time to volunteer in your child’s class, you’re going to do that. If you’re working two jobs, you’re not going to have that time. Middle class parents also feel more than poorer parents that they have the right to throw their weight around,” said Horvat.

However, Cucchiara said that one shouldn’t assume that the resources provided by middle-class parents are going to all students.

What made the two schools profiled in the study so different is that the middle-class parents of one viewed their involvement in the school as universal while the parents of the other saw it as individualized.

“This involvement can sometimes benefit all kids, but you can’t assume that it’s that way all of the time. Plus, these resources are no substitute for making sure schools have quality teachers,” she said.

Also, the study suggested that there could be consequences to other students in the school if middle-class parents exert their influence solely to benefit their own children.

The study also shows that while middle-class parents and the resources they bring can attract other students and parents from their class, it often does so at the expense of working class students.

Titled ‘The Perils and Promises of Middle-Class Parental Involvement in Economically Integrated Urban Schools: A Comparative Analysis’, the study was presented at this month’s American Educational Research Association conference. (ANI)

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