Low-Income Parents and the Public Schools

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Abstract

This article addresses the responses likely to be received by low-income parents from teachers and staff in their children’s public schools in the United States. A review of the relevant literature reveals that teachers and school administrators tend to subscribe to the dominant beliefs that low-income parents do not care about their children’s schooling, are not competent to help with homework, do not encourage achievement, and do not place a high value on education. This article presents examples of such middle-class bias in the words and actions of individual teachers, and research findings that tend to contradict these stereotypes. The barriers that exist for low-income parents in interacting with the schools are discussed, and suggestions are offered for ways in which schools can recognize and respect the standpoint and potential contributions of these parents.

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