Browsing College of Education by Author "Phelps, Chavez Maurice"
Hear My Voice: An Examination of the Views of Parents Who Are Raising Children of African American DescentPhelps, Chavez Maurice (2012-01-13)Researchers have demonstrated that children who attend early childhood education programs benefit academically and socially (National Institute for Early Education Research, 2003). However, other researchers have shown that African American students may still lag behind their counterparts when they enter school (National Center for Education Statistics ([NCES], 2004). To explain this phenomenon, scholars and practitioners have relied on deficit theories, such as Ruby Payne’s (2005) culture of poverty theory or John Ogbu’s (1992) oppositional culture identity theory, which shift the blame solely on the child or their parents. However, there are other researchers who have stressed the importance of examining the impact of racism and classism on African American children’s academic success. The purpose of this study is to provide a voice to parents of children who are of African American descent. Specifically, I examined parents’ perspectives on early academic success and various factors that impact their children’s success using Bronfenbrenner’s (1979) ecological systems theory and Spencer’s (1995) phenomenological variant of ecological systems theory (PVEST) as frameworks. To develop an understanding of early academic success from the perspective of parents, qualitative methodology was chosen, specifically grounded theory. Fourteen families who lived in a Midwest city or town, particularly mothers and their children, participated in this study. Data resources included two interviews, journals, and academic and social skills screeners. The data were analyzed based on parents’ degree status and marital status as well as grade, gender, and disability status of their child.Results show that parents define early academic success as acquiring the following: literacy, numeracy, and social skills. The participants stressed the importance of parents and teacher characteristics as important to their children’s early academic success. Furthermore, these parents believed that family factors such as a structured and consistent family routine are relevant to academic achievement. In terms of neighborhood factors, parents believed that a quiet and peaceful neighborhood as well as a neighborhood that valued and foster academic achievement as a community is crucial. Participants stressed the importance that their children should participate in various activities such as sports and music and dance classes. Their children should possess such values as respect and compassion, which are necessary to be successful. Additionally, the participants discussed their various teaching strategies and the importance of spending time with their children. Finally, the participants discussed the conversations they have with their children regarding race and how their children’s school and teachers embrace their children’s heritage.