What is it they are saying? It's right in the title,
"Done to Us, Not with Us: African American Parent Perceptions of K-12 Education."
From the Summary:
There were three key themes that emerged from our research:
- When we talk about educational disparities that exist across ethnic groups, we often start by saying that many low-income African-American communities need to raise their educational aspirations and aim for a college degree rather than just a high school diploma. But our research challenges that notion, showing that 87% of African-American parents and caregivers surveyed already want their children to graduate from college.
- The way many African-American parents and caregivers select schools may be working against the college aspirations they have for their children. An overwhelming majority of parents surveyed (87%) select schools based on “safe, secure, violence-free environment,” prioritizing this need over other measures of school quality more strongly correlated with college readiness. In addition, data on school quality in the districts where we recruited survey participants indicate that students are largely underserved by their local schools. Yet a strong majority of parents and caregivers (80%) rated their children’s school as “excellent” or “pretty good,” even though 41% of those surveyed believe that schools in their local communities are not doing a “good” or “excellent” job of college preparation. This expectation gap can be setting African-American children up for failure.
- When we asked parents about what comes to mind when they hear the term “education reform,” most parents surveyed didn’t respond positively and there was no consensus on the meaning of the term. Many felt that there is a lot of discussion regarding the changes needed but that in reality, very little changes for their children. However, 62% of parent respondents believed that public school reform efforts would be improved if there were more African-American leaders driving change. Specifically, parents view members of the faith community and other parents as the most trustworthy sources to drive systems change and communicate information related to supporting their children’s educational journey.
- We should empower parents with an easy to understand “checklist” of the steps they should take to prepare their children for success.
- We should forge a greater sense of partnership between parents and schools to ensure that all children can successfully navigate the college-going process.
- We should recognize that messengers matter. Parents distrust systems that have a track record of failing to serve them well. We need to leverage trustworthy messengers, such as faith leaders and experienced parents, who understand the day-to-day realities of African-American parents and are positioned to help them navigate the educational system and college going process.