Chapter Eight: Parents and Families, Communities and Schools

8.4 Justifications for Collaboration

Arguments in favour of greater parent/caregiver involvement in schools, as noted in Chapter Two, include philosophical and political beliefs that participation in such a key social institution is essential to the pursuit of democracy; that public education is too important to be left solely to educators; and that without participation, the interests of those currently less well served by public schools will not be improved. A more pragmatic political argument suggests that broad-based participation is essential as a way of mobilizing and maintaining public support for schooling in an era of fiscal restraint and shifting demographics. While we believe firmly in the importance of all these arguments, another set of arguments that tends to be focused more narrowly on school outcomes is of primary concern in this chapter. In the past 50 years increasing amounts of research have been accumulated that support the assertion that student learning and well-being is enhanced when communities, families, schools, and students work together (Goodall, 2013; Henderson et al., 2002), referred to by Joyce Epstein as a theory of “overlapping spheres of influence” (Epstein, 1995).