Black parents in suburban schools: The interaction of race, class, and school organization

Michelle Denise White, Fordham University


Very little research has been done in investigating the relationship that Black parents in middle- and low-income groups have with their suburban schools and school districts. In the absence of research, educators have had to rely on myths and assumptions in dealing with Black parents. The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between the organizational structures of two suburban middle schools and the involvement of middle- and low-income Black parents in several areas of school functioning. A comparative case study approach was used in an effort to sample a wide range of parent, educator, and community member opinions and perceptions. The case study approach also allowed the researcher to collect data related to the social, economic, and cultural environments as they affected parent and educator behaviors and interactions. Interview data were collected using open-ended interviewing techniques. Face-to-face, focus group, and telephone interviews were conducted. Most of the interviews, where possible and profitable, lasted for at least an hour. Interviews were recorded with the interviewees' permission. Field notes were also taken. Results suggest that income affects the relationships that Black parents have with their schools and with parents of the other income group. The involvement of both groups with the schools is limited primarily to parent-teacher association activities and parent attendance at sporting or arts events. The Parent Teacher Student Association (PTSA) did not, however, represent an important force in either district. The organizational structures of the school and district did not change appreciably to involve parents in the education of their children or in the management of the school or district. Recommendations for future research suggest the need to examine in greater depth the effects of income on relationships that exist among Blacks in the two income groups as well as the relationship that low-income Blacks have with their school districts.

Subject Area

School administration|Secondary education|African Americans

Recommended Citation

White, Michelle Denise, "Black parents in suburban schools: The interaction of race, class, and school organization" (1993). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9328424.