Understanding how highly involved minority parents sustain their involvement in their child's education
The purpose of my research study was to describe minority parents’ perceptions of how they overcame challenges, sustained involvement, and remained highly involved in their child’s education. Participants’ perceptions were viewed through the theoretical frameworks of appreciative inquiry, positive psychology (Seligman, 1998) and humanistic psychology (Maslow, 1943). A qualitative descriptive multi-case study research design applied appreciative inquiry theoretical research perspective to describe the minority parent’s perceptions of how they overcame challenges, sustained involvement, and remained highly involved in their child’s education. An appreciative inquiry theoretical research perspective centers on the positive core of experiences held by participants. The multiple case study design was selected for utilizing more than one case for evidence and data, thus strengthening the study and increasing its external validity (Yin, 2003). Data were collected through focus groups interviews, and document review. Data were analyzed using pattern matching, the constant-comparative method and CATPAC, a text analysis software designed to show relationships among words. The analyzed data revealed six findings: Six salient findings were derived from my data analysis: (1) Native American and African American parents identified involvement strategies to improve their child’s education; (2) African American parents believed there were issues related to minority relationships within the school and community; (3) Native American and African American parents set expectations for their children; (4) Native American and African American parents expressed pride in their children’s accomplishments; (5) Native American and African American parents linked family values to their role and responsibility as a parent; (6) Native American and African American parents linked teacher care and respect for their child to the child’s success. These findings validate that Native American and African American parents desire to be and can be as successful as any other minority or non-minority parents, at being involved in their children’s education. This group of highly involved parents offered several effective strategies for sustaining involvement in their child’s education. Communication strategies and recognition for what is important in dealing with school personnel has facilitated these parents in their quest to support and help their child through their educational careers. Both Native American and African American parents demonstrated that a belief system centered on the modeling of core and family values, including instilling the value of an education has proven to be effective positive acts for their children and families. A strong, positive, and optimistic belief system as well as a learned ability for effectively interacting with the school system has facilitated these parents in overcoming challenges and obstacles other minority parents often face. I hope that the findings from this study can contribute to furthering an awareness of, and inspiring future research for minority parent involvement in our schools, as well as opening doors to practice and policy changes facilitating the education of children who greatly need to achieve at higher levels in our schools.