Rethinking Family-school Relations: A Critique of Parental involvement in Schooling, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Rethinking Family-school Relations

A Critique of Parental involvement in Schooling, 1st Edition

By Maria Eulina de Carvalho


172 pages

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pub: 2000-10-01
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This book addresses the complications and implications of parental involvement as a policy, through an exploratory theoretical approach, including historical and sociological accounts and personal reflection. This approach represents the author's effort to understand the origins, meanings, and effects of parental involvement as a prerequisite of schooling and particularly as a policy 'solution' for low achievement and even inequity in the American educational system.

Most of the policy and research discourse on school-family relations exalts the partnership ideal, taking for granted its desirability and viability, the perspective of parents on specific involvement in instruction, and the conditions of diverse families in fulfilling their appointed role in the partnership. De Carvalho takes a distinct stance. She argues that the partnership-parental ideal neglects several major factors: It proclaims parental involvement as a means to enhance (and perhaps equalize) school outcomes, but disregards how family material and cultural conditions, and feelings about schooling, differ according to social class; thus, the partnership-parental involvement ideal is more likely to be a projection of the model of upper-middle class, suburban community schooling than an open invitation for diverse families to recreate schooling. Although it appeals to the image of the traditional community school, the pressure for more family educational accountability really overlooks history as well as present social conditions. Finally, family-school relations are relations of power, but most families are powerless. De Carvalho makes the case that two linked effects of this policy are the gravest: the imposition of a particular parenting style and intrusion into family life, and the escalation of educational inequality.

Rethinking Family-School Relations: A Critique of Parental Involvement in Schooling--a carefully researched and persuasively argued work--is essential reading for all school professionals, parents, and individuals concerned with public schooling and educational equality.


"This carefully researched, provocative study will benefit all education professionals and people concerned with equity in public schooling."

Journal of Childhood Education International

"Outstanding!….Unique to its field….de Carvalho has written the first book that demonstrates a critical approach and thoroughly challenges all of the naive assumptions that guide conventional thinking on families and their relationships with schools. This book should force all of us to rethink our knee-jerk support for parental involvement in schools."

David Gabbard

Eastern Carolina University

Table of Contents

Contents: Prologue. The Articulation of Family and School in Educational Policy. Family-School Interactions: Lessons From Personal Experience. Education and Social Reproduction: The Quest for Equity Within Family-School Relations. The Obscure Side of Homework. Epilogue.

About the Series

Sociocultural, Political, and Historical Studies in Education

This series focuses on studies of public and private institutions, the media, and academic disciplines that contribute to educating--in the broadest sense--students and the general public. The series welcomes volumes with multicultural perspectives, diverse interpretations, and a range of political points of view from conservative to critical. Books accepted for publication in this series will be written for an academic audience and, in some cases, also for use as supplementary readings in graduate and undergraduate courses.

Topics to be addressed in this series include, but are not limited to, sociocultural, political, and historical studies of

Local, state, national, and international educational systems

Elementary and secondary schools, colleges and universities

Public institutions of education such as museums, libraries, and foundations

Computer systems and software as instruments of public education

The popular media as forms of public education

Content areas within the academic study of education, such as curriculum and instruction, psychology, and educational technology

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
EDUCATION / Philosophy & Social Aspects