Parent Involvement Contracts in California's Charter Schools: Strategy for Educational Improvement or Method of Exclusion?
by Henry J. Becker, Kathryn Nakagawa & Ronald G. Corwin — 1997
Many deregulated public charter schools in California and other states are emphasizing parent involvement in the process of reform. Some even seem to be working from a communitarian model, trying to build an integral school community in which parents play numerous roles in the ongoing events of the school and classroom day. In order to build this parent involvement, California charter schools are also experimenting with a variety of mechanisms for encouraging parent involvement, including having parents sign agreements or “contracts" promising a certain amount or type of involvement. But to what extent are the initiators of these charter schools using parent involvement and parent contracts to restrict enrollment to children whose parents demonstrate the desired commitments and willingness to meet school expectations? In order to explore this question, this article reports on (1) analyses of data from a survey of California’s charter schools and comparison schools in the same communities and (2) an examination of parent contracts in use at the charter schools. We find that charter schools do have greater levels of parent involvement, but that this involvement may be due to selectivity in the kinds of families participating in charter schools.
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