A recent article in the Spokane Review highlights how poor and minority families are often left out of the most important education discussions due to limited access to after-school events, parent-teacher conferences and PTA meetings.  Often overlooked issues such as lack of transportation, conflicting work schedules, the format of material presentations, and more can be barriers that limit connection between school and families.

Ann Ishimaru, assistant professor of educational policy, organizations and leadership at the University of Washington’s College of Education, co-published a paper in May deconstructing many challenges families of low-income and minority students struggle with when engaging with schools.   The paper discusses “interest convergence as an important and useful tool for understanding historical progress toward racial and educational equity”.


The paper's closing comments by Mark Warren provide hope.

He argues that a social movement for educational justice is, in fact, emerging, as seen in the school-to-prison pipeline movement. He reminds us that efforts to (re)focus education toward racial equity require attending not only to issues within schools and universities, but to broader inequities, such as poverty, housing, and immigration. Although education is one of many important areas of focus, it is, in many ways, at the heart of struggles for racial justice.

One proposed approach to improving student integration is to have specific advocates within each school to talk with families, listen to their concerns and connect them with the appropriate people and resources.  This long-term support approach has shown effectiveness in building trust and improving engagement with students throughout the school community.