Degree Name

EdD (Doctor of Education)


Educational Leadership

Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Dr. Pamela Scott

Committee Members

Catherine Glascock, Eric Glover, Cecil Blankenship


The goals for public schools are to educate all students so that they may attend colleges and/or develop relevant job and citizenship skills. African American students enrolled in American public schools struggle to keep up academically, revealing a so called “achievement gap.” Consequently, many African American children are unable to realize their potential and participate as successful contributing citizens. This study examined how African American parents might engage in their children’s schooling and how schools might support this participation to better meet the needs of these students.

The segregation and racism historically practiced in public schools has led to negative perceptions between educators and African American families and communities. The gap in traditional measures of academic achievement between Black and White children has been debated and analyzed by scholars, legislators, and practitioners for decades. School based issues associated with this trend are lower teacher expectations for students of color, lack of curriculum rigor, effective teacher development and training, inadequate resources, tracking of African American students into less demanding programs, a lack of appreciation for Black cultures and inappropriate/misguided school administration.

This study examines African American parents’ perceptions of public education and how it impacts Black student success and offers a synopsis of significant events that may have shaped some of these perceptions. Findings include evidence that African American parents perceive that schools do not reach out to them to foster a partnership or encourage participation, but most often engage them when behavior or academic issues arise with their children.

Additional areas for investigation surface by the findings include evidence that the disconnect perhaps does not come from a lack of engagement, but from a lack of active participation and partnership. Parents are left feeling as if they have no influence on school culture. Recommendations for improving school and family interactions that may improve African American student outcomes include teacher led parent-school partnerships, communication outside the classroom and school setting, and consideration for cultural differences.

Document Type

Dissertation - unrestricted


Copyright by the authors. Eric D. Howard