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Critical Approaches to Educational Partnerships With African American Families: Relevancy of Race in Ideology and Practice

Sat, April 14, 8:15 to 9:45am, New York Marriott Marquis, Fourth Floor, Ziegfeld


Equitably partnering with African American families in schools warrant educators understanding how culturally relevant knowledge and experiences influence many African American families’ educational goals, dispositions, and interactions. Racialized power dynamics evident in the relationships between educators, families, and students too often marginalize African Americans. Educational ideologies and partnership structures that employ colorblind lenses are ineffective, as well. In this presentation, the author considers the oppressive effects of prevalent educational ideologies and practices on African Americans in education. She also addresses transformative, community-oriented leadership to propose strategies for co-creating democratic, culturally responsive, and affirming partnerships that help strengthen school communities and support student learning. Relevant research is examined to challenge prevailing, yet limited conceptions of parent involvement and engagement. Critical theories and research findings related to the saliency of race and the culture of power in schools are then marshaled to explain how many African American families’ concerns about and experiences with racism distinctly shape their desire for voice, choice, and representation in schools. These concerns and experiences also influence their educational advocacy, activism, or disengagement. Suggestions are made about how educators can draw upon research and theoretical insights to co-develop partnership approaches that are responsive to African American families’ experiences, strengths, aspirations, internal diversity, and needs. Such Afro-affirmative work is essential for respectfully collaborating with African American families to increase equity-oriented school success.


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