Latino Parent Leadership: Through the Eyes of Latino Parent Leaders

The impact of parental involvement in a child’s academic success has been well-documented; however there is considerably less research that focuses specifically on Latino parent engagement and its potential to improve schools given the rising numbers of Latino students attending U.S. schools. Few studies have focused on the strengths that Latino families pass onto their children and how those strengths can be leveraged to better connect schools with Latino parents and develop schools where students feel their parents are respected (Rioja-Cortez & Bustos Flores, 2009). This research study set out to explore Latino parent engagement through the eyes of Latino parent leaders within one school district. The purpose of this research study was to identify and analyze how and why Latino parents become engaged within a school and district culture; in addition to learning what potential factors may exist that move Latino parents along a continuum of involvement and engagement into leadership and change agency. The researcher was interested in learning about Latino parent leadership, based on a hypothesis that Latino parent leadership may have the potential to impact the schooling experiences for Latino children and their families. A review of existing literature on parental engagement among Latinos, helped to develop a conceptual framework where four major themes emerge: 1.) Parent engagement produces more positive outcomes than traditional types of parent involvement; 2.) School personnel and Latino parents differ in their perceptions regarding what constitutes as parent involvement; 3.) Latino parents utilize culturally embedded strategies to promote their children’s education; and 4.) Home-based forms of engagement have been found to be more effective than school-based involvement. The four themes came together to shape a conceptual framework where whenever Latino parent backgrounds were valued and treated as legitimate sources of strength and when these Latino parents could identify with these strengths and use these strengths to connect with new forms of school information and knowledge, Latino parent leadership could be born and develop. In short, this study seeks to better understand Latino parent engagement and leadership as experienced by a group of Latino parent leaders in one school district.