Can we talk? Using community-based participatory action research to build family and school partnerships with families of color

Denise G. Yull, Binghamton University--SUNY
Lisa V. Blitz, Binghamton University--SUNY
Tonia Thompson
Carla Murray


Research has demonstrated persistent, disproportionally negative educational outcomes for students of color, causing national concern in this area. School personnel increasingly understand the need to engage with parents as educational partners, but parents of color may feel marginalized in these efforts. This paper presents findings from a series of focus groups with middle-class parents of color in a small city in the Northeast United States. Using critical race theory, this research examines the parents' experiences in the community and with the schools. Findings regarding community include lack of cultural enrichment for families of color, isolation in the community, and experiences of colorblind racism and cultural ignorance. School-focused findings include lack of cultural competency in the schools, stereotyping, and racial disproportionality in school discipline. The discussion centers on the schooldistrict's strategic plan and the community-university partnership used as a vehicle for responding to these critical concerns.