Parent perceptions of school-based parent involvement and the operational transmission of culture
Over the past fifty years of school reform, American education now includes parental involvement as an important factor contributing to children’s academic success. Furthermore, government funding is now tied to parent involvement, in an effort to increase the role of parents in school buildings. The purpose of this study was to examine the perceptions and experiences of parents participating in school-based parent involvement initiatives. Particularly, the study focused on investigating how parent involvement supported the exchange of cultural capital where parents could embody capital and relay said capital to their children. The study allowed for the voices of the parents that are engaged to be heard. The theoretical framework was in the was Bourdieu’s theory of cultural capital. The theory is based on the notion that what one knows or invests time to learn or understand, and has value within the institutional setting becomes something that the person can use to navigate through said institutions. This is a bounded case study that explored parent involvement and their perceptions of their experiences in parent involvement activities in the private school setting. The research site was a private K-8 building in a metropolitan area of the United States. The participants were parents of diverse age groups and backgrounds. The overall findings of the study point to one particular type of parent involvement activity as being significant and the most visible in terms of its operational effect. Parent involvement classes were the location where the exchange of cultural capital was most visible – where parents were viewed as equals. Additionally, parental voice – where trust had been established and meaningful relationships had been forged, was most dynamic within the school’s parenting classes, and the vehicle by which culture was exchanged.