Democratic parent involvement: a qualitative study of school-community relations

Educators and legislators agree that parent involvement has positive effects on children's academic success. Federal and state governments have implemented standards to guide parent involvement practices, in which parents are encouraged to support the school culture, assist in student learning, and participate in decisionmaking. Yet, these standards tend to under-represent the social and educational needs of Latino immigrant communities. Schools generally apply a deficit model that reinforces Eurocentric ideals of assimilation and individualism, undermining the socio-cultural contributions of lowincome communities of color. As a result, Latino parents are unable to exercise their democratic representation in schools that would allow them to have a voice in decision-making and advocacy efforts for equal educational practices. This research study explores parent involvement practices among Latino immigrants in American schools. Drawing from the experiences of parents, school staff, and teachers in a local community in the North San Diego County region, this study sheds light into the complexities of forming school-community relations in a democratic and culturally competent manner. Keywords: Latino communities, school-community relations, parent involvement, educational equity, structural inequality, deficit model, funding system reform.