School partnership with parents of color: Implications of social capital for inner-city school organization

Gail Sharon Bell-Baptiste, Fordham University


The purpose of this research was to explore the question of whether inner-city schools were organized to promote partnerships with parents of color. With that question in mind, the researcher designed a study that investigated the dynamics of forging partnerships between urban schools and African Americans, West Indian Caribbean, and Hispanic Caribbean parents. The research examined the social capital developed in early childhood programs, such as Head Start, and in community-based organizations, such as the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), for these parents of color. The study was qualitative, undergirded by the theory that educating youngsters is accomplished best through interactions among home, school, and the community as overlapping spheres of influence. The study applied Epstein's six types of parent involvement which are (a) basic family obligations; (b) basic school obligations; (c) school involvement; (d) involvement in learning activities at home; (e) decision making, advocacy, and governance; and (f) exchange and collaboration with community resources. A collaborative school organizational frame, influenced by integrated leadership, emerged as important. Utilizing observations, interviews, focus groups, and document reviews, the study explored whether or not routines existed within the organization of three inner-city schools that could encourage or discourage the comprehensive involvement of parents of color. The perspectives of parents, educators, and vested interested others were analyzed. Findings indicated the importance of educators taking the lead because inner-city schools, in fact, can be organized to frame partnerships with parents of color. Findings further generated a process model for structuring the overlap in educational influence, consisting of three distinct condition sets that are not necessarily sequential nor concurrent. Condition 1 structures are those school policies and organizational leadership styles that foster positive micropolitical interactions and shared decision making, intensive teacher involvement practices, and the identification and utilization of social capital that incorporates cultural practices. Condition 2 structures consist of Epstein's 6-part typology of parent involvement, tailored to fit the needs of parents of color and developed to include all 3 spheres of influence. Condition 3 structures are the identification and utilization of the parent development resources available through community-based organizations and agencies.

Subject Area

School administration|Teacher education|Cultural anthropology

Recommended Citation

Bell-Baptiste, Gail Sharon, "School partnership with parents of color: Implications of social capital for inner-city school organization" (2003). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3101152.