Partnerships Promoting American Indian Parent Involvement

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					Partnerships Promoting
   American Indian
  Parent Involvement

     By Dr. Dawn Mackety &
   Jennifer Linder-VanBerschot
          Mid-continent Research
    for Education and Learning (McREL)
                7/10/2008
Overview

• Why involve parents?
• What’s…
   – a parent?
   – parent involvement?
• Types of parent involvement
• Traditional issues on low
  involvement
• Strategies for involvement
• Your turn…activity!!
 Why involve parents?

 • Support student academics & learning
 • Parents are children's first teachers
 • Pass on our culture
 • Be advocates for children
 • Children of involved parents become
   involved parents
                            …and tomorrow’s leaders


“Whoever controls the education of our
 children controls our future.”
 Wilma Mankiller, former Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation
What’s a parent?
 …involve the entire family

• “Adults in many students’
  homes may not be their
  parents but other adult
  members of their
  extended family”
  (Ward, 2005, p. 125)


• “…include grandparents
  and uncles and aunts, the
  people who traditionally
  took responsibility for much
  of the children’s education.”
  (Deloria & Wildcat, 2001, p. 157)
What’s a parent?
 …involve the entire family
• “I have a friend [who’s] been pretty much like a third parent to
  me since I was 15. To my kids, she’s Grandma…and she’s just [as]
  involved…with my kids in school as I am. She wants to pick them
  up, talks to the teachers, goes to conferences with me.”

• “…there’s probably…38 other
  women besides us…a majority
  of them are involved…with my
  children…they’re…like aunties.”

• “When my grandkids had trouble
  at school, my parents came, plus
  their great-great-grandparents.”


                                         (Mackety, Linder-VanBerschot, & Waldorf, In Press)
What’s parent involvement?
• “Parent Involvement means that families take an active
  role in their child's education and development, helping to
  make decisions…in partnership with other parents, staff
  and community members.”
 (Early Head Start Program, American Indian Institute, University of Oklahoma Outreach)




• “…allowing parents real decision
  making power about what and
  how their children learn.”
 (Reyhner, 1992)




                                             (Head Start website: www.aii.outreach.ou.edu/EHS/parent_involvement.html)
6 types of parent involvement

1. Parenting
2. Communicating
3. Volunteering
4. Learning at Home
5. Decision Making
6. Collaborating with
   the Community

                            (Epstein, 2002)
            6 types of parent involvement
                                                                                    (Adapted from Epstein, 2002)
1. Parenting:
   Parenting skills, childrearing, rules/expectations, child development, housing, health, nutrition,
   clothing, safety, home learning environments, help schools understand families/children
2. Communicating:
   Effective school/home/community communication; memos, report cards, conferences, newsletters,
   phone calls, websites, emails, announcements, progress reports, program/testing info; info to
   choose/change courses/programs/schools/activities; personal invites, interpersonal relations, trust
3. Volunteering:
   Effective volunteer programs (recruitment/training/scheduling); opportunities for all (school staff,
   families, community members) to volunteer in all settings (school, home, community); assist
   teachers/students; parents as parent liaisons, aides, tutors, coaches, chaperones; parents as
   audiences for assemblies, performances, events, ceremonies, celebrations
4. Learning At Home:
   Effective learning environments; understand/support child’s learning styles; teaching language and
   culture; educational family activities; [how to] help with homework; know skills required for child to
   pass each subject; curriculum-related decisions; talk about what child is learning; help child set
   educational goals, plan for college; encourage child’s skills and talents
5. Decision Making:
   Families participate in school decision making, governance, advocacy; participate in PTA/PTO, School
   Improvement Process teams, curriculum panels, Title I councils, JOMs, advisory councils, school
   improvement teams, committees; access to advocates/liaisons
6. Collaborating With the Community:
   Community contributes to schools/students/families, they contribute back to community; important
   community resources/services are easily accessible to students/families, located in/near school;
   partners include businesses/agencies/councils/service clubs; set up networks; service learning;
   community showcases student talents, invites students/families to help solve local problems
Low involvement…
   some parents choose noninterference

• Supervising or assisting with homework may not be typical
  behaviors for some traditional families

   – Some parents respect children’s choices even when the
     choices contradict the preferences of their families and
     tribal elders
   – Independent decision making is encouraged
   – Good behavior is taught, encouraged, rewarded; bad behavior
     is not punished

• Some traditional families members support high school
  graduation but not academic achievement
   – Some parents don’t get involved unless graduation is
     threatened
   – Most jobs on/off the reservation require a diploma or GED

                              (Ward, 2005; study among families on Cheyenne and Crow reservations)
Low involvement…
      some parents can’t get involved

• Competing personal problems and family needs
  (Mackety, Linder-VanBerschot, & Waldorf, In Press; Ward, 2005)


     – Scheduling, childcare, financial issues, time
     – Substance abuse, domestic issues,
       incarceration
     – Transportation (lack of vehicles)
     – Lack of access (lack phones or electricity)


• It’s too far
  (Mackety, Linder-VanBerschot, & Waldorf, In Press;
  Reyhner, 1992; Ward, 2005)


     – Long distances between home and school
       discourage parents and students from
       participating in school activities
Low involvement…
   some aren’t comfortable being involved

• Negative experiences with education
   – Boarding schools and forced assimilation
   – Feeling unwelcome or intimidated at the school
   – Perceptions of racism, discrimination, or harassment at the school
   – Lack of genuine, collaborative relationships with staff
   – Lack of education, self-confidence, experience, role models
   – Lack of Indian staff
   – Lack of understanding of how to negotiate
     the system or act appropriately
   – Too shy
   – Fear of making a mistake
   – Schools named after American leaders
     who supported Indian oppression and
     cultural genocide

                                             (Mackety, Linder-VanBerschot, & Waldorf, In Press)
Low involvement…
   some aren’t comfortable being involved

• Schools are too big and intimidating
 (Deloria & Wildcat, 2001; Mackety, Linder-VanBerschot, & Waldorf, In Press)


    – “The psychological burden of even attending a meeting in a
      big, formal, brick building is intimidating to many
      reservation parents.

       It calls back memories of their childhood and the summons
       to come to the agency, which always meant problems.

       Families are herded through large
       school plants every year at
       ‘Welcome back to school’ days,
       but the format used…makes it clear
       to parents that they are outsiders.”
       (Deloria & Wildcat, 2001, p. 157)
Low involvement…
   some aren’t comfortable being involved

• Cultural discontinuity between home & school
 (Mackety, Linder-VanBerschot, & Waldorf, In Press; Rehyner, 1992; Ward, 2005)


    – Lack of culturally-relevant resources, curricula, programs, and
      activities in the school
    – Discontinuity in learning styles, values,
      and interpersonal interactions
    – Cultural discontinuity between what
      Indian children learn at home vs. at school
      alienates parents, confuses children,
      harms children’s self-concept, and forces
      children to choose between their heritage
      and school success
       (Reyhner, 1992)
Low involvement…
   some have different values

• The goals of American education (e.g., graduation, occupational
  attainment, professional advancement, wealth, self-
  sufficiency) are not valued among many Indian families
 (Ward, 2005)


    – Reservation employment depends
      more on relationships and loyalties
      than on academic achievement
    – Regardless of income level, many
      Indian families prefer not to
      exhibit superiority over other
      community members in their spending
      patterns, clothes, housing, vehicles,
      employment, activities, standard of
      living, or social status
Low involvement…
   some have different values
• Traditional Navajo values   (McInerney, McInerney, Ardington, & De Rachewiltz, 1997)



  – Some Navajo children feel a strong sense of community, close bonds
    to family, and an obligation to give back
  – Individual achievement at the
    expense of the community is
    not desired
  – When there are challenges in a
    family, some Navajo children will
    likely fulfill family duties
    before school work
  – After having completed their
    education, some Navajo children
    will likely return to the
    reservation despite limited
    employment and resources
1) Parenting
Parenting skills, childrearing, rules/expectations, child development, housing, health, nutrition, clothing,
safety, home learning environments, help schools understand families/children



                                       Cultural Strategies
• Provide culturally-based parenting skills,                • Personal encouragement from
  childrearing, rule-setting, life skills                     school staff can help parents
  workshops                                                   improve self-confidence
• Help parents understand child                             • Keep expectations high and
  development                                                 consistent
• Give families access in the schools to                    • Recognize that all parents are
  services to help with basic needs                           involved in their children’s
• Deliver services to families in their                       learning and want them to do
  homes                                                       well
• Show interest and acceptance                              • Provide parent-focused early
• Acknowledge what you don’t know and                         childhood education programs
  ask                                                       • Establish parent support groups
• Employees need family-friendly                              and networks, opportunities to
  practices                                                   meet other Indian parents
2) Communicating
Effective school/home/community communication; memos, report cards, conferences, newsletters, phone
calls, websites, emails, announcements, progress reports, program/testing info; info to choose/change
courses/programs/schools/activities


                                   Cultural Strategies
• Parents prefer personal, not written            • Expect to include the entire family
  communications                                  • Teachers and parents must believe
• Keep meetings small, informal, safe—              that all children can succeed
  large, formal groups are intimidating           • Flexible meeting schedules
• Help parents overcome the                       • Communicate positive messages to
  intimidation associated with large,               parents about their children
  formal school buildings                         • Permit incarcerated parents to
• Reduce racism, discrimination;                    receive communications about their
  improve cultural sensitivity                      children
• Provide Indian parent liaison in every          • Ask when you don’t understand
  school, not just one per district               • Invite teachers to visit tribal
• Provide resource rooms for families               community and homes
• Build genuine, trusting interpersonal           • Include children in parent-teacher
  relationships                                     conferences
• Let parents know their options
3) Volunteering
Effective volunteer programs (recruitment/training/scheduling); opportunities for all (school staff,
families, community members) to volunteer in all settings (school, home, community); assist
teachers/students; parents as parent liaisons, aides, tutors, coaches, chaperones; parents as audiences
for assemblies, performances, events, ceremonies, celebrations



                                     Cultural Strategies
• Parents need to be personally invited             • Build strong relationships with
• Have children invite their parents                  families, elders and community
• Recognize and greet families by name              • Volunteer program coordinator
• Provide transportation                              should be respected by and
                                                      knowledgeable about families
• Make families feel comfortable and
  at ease                                           • Target groups of friends as
                                                      volunteers
• Parents more apt to volunteer when
  they sense genuine caring, concern                • Target multi-generations of
  and respect from staff                              volunteers
• Schools have open-door policy for                 • Promote volunteer opportunities
  parent/family visitors                              through tribal newspapers, local
                                                      newspapers, chapter meetings, etc.
• Permit more Indian members on
  councils                                          • Sports activities
4) Learning at Home
Effective learning environments; understand/support child’s learning styles; teaching language and
culture; educational family activities; [how to] help with homework; know skills required for child to pass
each subject; curriculum-related decisions; talk about what child is learning; help child set educational
goals, plan for college; encourage child’s skills and talents

                                      Cultural Strategies
• Involve families with their children              • Provide specific techniques to help
  in learning activities in their home,               parents start and continue
  including homework and other                        conversations or engage in dialogue
  curriculum-related activities and                   about the books they are reading
  decisions.                                          with their children
• Make the curriculum culturally                    • Include Native-themed books in the
  relevant by inviting parents to help,               reading list
  teach, share and advise                           • Commitment from parents and
• Develop the capacity of school staff                teachers encourage success of
  to work with families and conduct                   program
  home visits                                       • Teachers have buy-in to plan
                                                      additional training and family
                                                      educational nights
5) Decision Making
Families participate in school decision making, governance, advocacy; participate in PTA/PTO, School
Improvement Process teams, curriculum panels, Title I councils, JOMs, advisory councils, school
improvement teams, committees; access to advocates/liaisons



                                     Cultural Strategies
• Include families as participants in               • Hold/attend new parent/family
  school decisions, governance, and                   information meetings prior to the
  advocacy through PTA/PTO, school                    school year.
  councils, School Improvement                      • Hold personal meetings with
  Process teams, committees, etc.                     families of newly accepted students
• Build families’ social and political                so families can receive one-on-one
  connections                                         info
• Include Native people on school                   • Engage families and community
  bards, as administrators, teachers,                 members on developing trusting and
  coaches and support staff                           respectful relationships
• Provide ongoing training for parents              • Establish a shared vision and have
  and school bards about what works                   that guide the decision making
  in Native education
• Informalize PTA/PTO
6) Collaborate with the Community
Community contributes to schools/students/families, they contribute back to community; important
community resources/services are easily accessible to students/families, located in/near school;
partners include businesses/agencies/councils/service clubs; set up networks; service learning;
community showcases student talents, invites students/families to help solve local problems



                                    Cultural Strategies
• Give families and children easy                 • Community groups help fund and
  access to bereavement counselors                  organize language and cultural events
                                                    for families
• Provide a “resource day” as a fun
  school event                                    • Encourage student involvement in
                                                    school and community activities (e.g.,
• Facilitate parnt involvement among
                                                    academic clubs, sports, interest
  incarcerated parents
                                                    groups)
• Design programs that support
                                                  • Support native language skills using
  families to guide their children’s
                                                    community resources
  learning preK-12
                                                  • Cultural sensitivity training provided
• Schools need to know the federal,
                                                    to staff and non-Native community
  state and tribal agencies from which
  Native people may receive services
        But wait!
          …variations by school type
                                                                             Tribal School    Catholic School    Public School
                      Factors Influencing High School Dropout
                                                                              (99% AI/AN)       (95% AI/AN)       (34% AI/AN)
                Discrimination at the school                                   No effect          No effect          Increase
 School




                Resources for “problem” students                               Increase           Reduce             Reduce
                School has high academic expectations for students             Increase           Increase           Reduce
                Parent involvement at the school                                Reduce            Reduce            No effect
                Education (at least one adult in home has diploma/GED)          Reduce            Reduce            No effect
 Parent/Adult




                Employment (at least one adult in home has full-time work)     No effect          Increase          No effect
                Substance abuse                                                Increase           Increase           Increase
                Cultural resources (native language & culture in home)          Reduce            Reduce            No effect
Family/Comm.




                Nonintact family (only one adult in home)                      Increases          No effect         No effect
                Family relations                                                Reduce            Reduce            No effect
                Norms (education)                                               Reduce            Increase          No effect
                Information (education)                                        Increase           Increase           Reduce
                Student’s involvement in school activities                     No effect          Reduce             Reduce
Student




                Student’s mean GPA                                              Reduce            Reduce             Reduce
                Student speaks a native language                                Reduce            Reduce            No effect
   Dropout Rate                                                                  54%                44%                42%

                                                               (Ward, 2005; study of 3 high schools serving the Northern Cheyenne in MT)
So, parent involvement also
 depends on…
• Family’s residence (on/off-reservation, mobility, homogeneity)
• Family support/networks, cultural groups, community groups
• School type(s) attended by parents
• Acculturation (traditional/assimilated continuum, language,
  culture)
• Parenting styles (skills, permissive, noninterference)
• Differential support for graduation vs. achievement
• School population (one tribe vs. intertribal vs. interracial)
• School type (tribal, BIE, Catholic, public, etc.)


                                     (Mackety, Linder-VanBerschot, & Waldorf, In Press; Ward, 2005)
Now what?




“Let us put our minds together and see
 what life we will make for our children.”
                                     Sitting Bull
  Strategies for involvement
   …your turn
1. Join 1 of the 6 parent involvement groups
2. In your group, identify culturally-specific
   strategies (incl. partnerships) to improve
   parent involvement. Consider…
    •   What you’ve learned from this conference
    •   Personal experience
    •   Best practices
    •   School type
3. List the top 5-7 ideas on the flipchart
   (note variations by school type)
4. Select someone in your group to report
Need help?
 Research, evaluation & technical assistance in Indian education
 http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/edlabs/regions/index.asp
Want to help?
 …yes, another study
Pending funding approval, I may be doing an exploratory study of
   Indian parent involvement in their children's education in South
   Dakota during the coming school year. Study will examine how
   involvement varies by school type (tribal, BIE, public, etc.).


• Needed: districts/schools interested in participating that want
  to improve Indian parent involvement in their schools
• Methods: focus groups with Indian parents & interviews with
  school staff
• Want to participate? Please see me.
Chi megwetch                (Thank you very much)



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Native Youth Magazine




 and were used with permission.

 www.nativeyouthmagazine.com
Megwetch          (Thank you)




                Dr. Dawn M. Mackety
                    Senior Researcher

 Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning (McREL)
                 4601 DTC Blvd., Suite 500
                  Denver, CO 80237-2596
                     P: 303.632.5640
                     F: 303.337.3005
                   dmackety@mcrel.org
                   http://www.mcrel.org
Overview



Mackety, D. M., Linder-VanBerschot, J. A., & Waldorf, L. A.
  (In Press). Examining American Indian perspectives on
  parent involvement in the Central Region (Issues &
  Answers Report, REL 2008-No. xxx). Washington D.C.
  U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education
  Sciences, National Center for Education Evaluation and
  Regional Assistance, Regional Educational Laboratory
  Central. Retrieved from http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/edlabs.