While almost every parent believes he or she plays a role in ensuring that their child receives a quality education, fully 10 percent of parents in the U.S. say that they do not feel welcome to participate, a survey commissioned by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation finds.
The survey of one thousand parents nationwide also found that parents believe involvement in their child's education is most critical between birth and pre-school (42 percent), with the percentage increasing among African American and Hispanic parents (51 percent and 47 percent respectively). While 46 percent of parents reported that lack of time is an obstacle that might prevent them from fully engaging in their children’s education, nearly 20 percent reported that a lack of understanding of what their child is learning also serves as a significant barrier facing low-income families and families of color.
Released in conjunction with the White House Symposium on Transformative Family Engagement, which brought together a small group of administration officials, including U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, White House domestic policy council director Cecilia Muñoz, and Deputy Assistant to the President for Education Roberto Rodriguez, with researchers, education experts, and philanthropic leaders to discuss how the country can achieve educational equity for all children, the survey results call attention to barriers that limit parents from feeling welcome as partners in their children’s education.
Kellogg defines transformative family engagement as a continuous process from birth through at least third grade that occurs across all settings where children learn. According to the foundation, family engagement is especially important during the critical early years, and although it has been proven to have a profound effect on students’ success in school and life, it is not always seen as an essential component in local and national education reform efforts.
"There are many drivers of disparities in educational outcomes for children of color — such as housing and school segregation," said Carla D. Thompson, vice president for program strategy at WKKF. "Advancing family engagement efforts can help address these barriers and increase opportunities for success in school and in life for all children."