A Shift from Involvement to Engagement: Giving Voice to Mixteco Parents and their Aspirations for their Children

An abundance of research has linked parental involvement to student achievement in academics, skills, and attitudes across many demographic and socioeconomic groups (Walker, Ice, & Hoover-Dempsey, 2011). However, minimal, if any research has been done on the Mixteco indigenous group and their parental involvement experiences within an educational institution. This study addresses the following research questions: 1) What are the institutional involvement experiences of Mixteco parents whose children attend a highly-populated English Language Learner (ELL) elementary school? And 2) What strategies might enhance Mixteco parental involvement at a highly-populated ELL elementary school? A combination narrative inquiry and ethnographic design were used to gain insight into the Mixteco culture, and the perspectives and opinions of eight parents in an elementary educational institution in Southern California. Critical Race Theory (CRT) and concepts relating to indigeneity were mobilized to better understand the unique voices of the Mixteco participants. Participant experiences provided insight into their marginalization within the context of educational settings and the expectations that institutions have in regards to parental involvement. Mixteco parents, however, exhibit many unobserved types of parental involvement which may not be consistent with the traditional expectations of schools. This reality leads to the misconception that Mixteco parents do not care about their children’s education and advances myths about them as uninvolved parents in their children’s educational welfare and future (Quiocho & Daoud, 2006). Recommendations are provided, including the realization that there needs to be a shift in discourse and practice from parental involvement to meaningful parental engagement that welcomes caregivers from all racial, ethnic, and socio-economic backgrounds.