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Abstract

Family engagement favorably influences student achievement, yet information addressing how schools and communities can effectively partner with diverse families remains lacking. This paper examines two examples that are illustrative of the some of “best” examples of parent engagement; yet they are still problematic. Using the theoretical frameworks of liberalism and postcolonial theory, this paper critiques these cases and specifically the concepts of capacity building, agency, and empowerment as they relate to urban parents’ school engagement. A critical examination of these cases yields the following conclusion and implication for researchers and practitioners alike: what might change and how might these “best” examples of parent engagement be less harmful if rather than perceiving parents as having a deficit and needing knowledge, principals, school administrators, teachers, and parents themselves capitalized on the strengths and knowledge parents already possess about their children and their communities rather than feeling obliged to dispel information and craf tparent engagement as it has traditionally been constructed and exemplified in these programs?
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