Families & Communities

Family Leadership in Education Model

Millions of dollars have been invested in initiatives that urge families to care more about education. The problem is that a lack of caring is not the problem. Across decades of experience and work with thousands of families whose children attend high poverty schools, we have found that families care deeply about their children and their children’s future. What is often missing is a better way for schools and families to partner so that everyone has a seat at the table. IDRA’s Family Leadership in Education Model aims to captures this approach.

Few people question the value of parents being involved in schools. But many school leaders labor with traditional strategies that have little meaning or success. The underlying assumptions we have about our students have a dramatic effect on our ability to teach. The same holds true among adults. Even with the best of intentions, educators struggle to work with families without realizing that their own deficit assumptions are creating the barriers.

We chose to champion and speak for the inclusive, nondiscriminatory idea that all families are inherently good and worthy of being treated with respect, dignity and value (including those who are economically disadvantaged, minority or speak a language other than English).

IDRA’s goal is bigger than parent involvement in education, rather it is family leadership. This model is a vision of all families as advocates of excellent neighborhood public schools. In this context, leadership is:

  • inclusive,
  • expanding,
  • based on peer support and rotating responsibilities,
  • ongoing invitation and support of new leadership,
  • connecting parents and communities across race, ethnic and class divisions,
  • focusing on collective action for the good of all children, and
  • building relationships and trust that are essential to the process.

The characteristics we support in the development of leadership are in contrast to some traditional parent leadership models that emphasize individual assertiveness and charismatic advocacy. Our process supports parents in learning to work in groups, planning and carrying out activities, speaking in front of groups, and developing other personal skills and traits that develop the individual. But, our emphasis is on collective action, listening to peers, and revolving tasks and leadership roles.

See the model IDRA Parent Leadership in Education Model in English and Spanish (pdf)

Learn More

IDRA’s Family Leadership in Education Principles in English and Spanish (pdf)

Stronger Parent Involvement through Family Leadership in Education Projects – Podcast Episode 185, September 19, 2018

Authentic Family Engagement through Education CAFEs – Podcast Episode 174, September 08, 2017

Liderazgo Familiar Intergeneracional: Intergenerational Family Leadership as a New Paradigm of Family Engagement, by Aurelio Montemayor and Nancy Chavkin, for VUE Voices in Urban Education, September 2016

Co-Leading and Co-Transforming Schools – School Administrators and Family Leaders in Education, IDRA Newsletter, September 25, 2016

Building Parent Voice for Action – Podcast Episode 146, October 14, 2014

Mesa Comunitaria Educativa – Community Collaboration for Education Advocacy, IDRA Newsletter, March 19, 2014

Family Leadership in the Field- Lasting Community Leadership in Education, IDRA Newsletter, July 07, 2011

A New Model for Community Engagement in Education – Podcast Episode 91, June 27, 2011

IDRAs Family Leadership Principles, IDRA Newsletter, September 4, 2007

The Power of IDRA’s Parent Leadership Model – Podcast Episode 3, November 10, 2006

Valued Parent Leadership, IDRA Newsletter, June 30, 2000

The Nurturing of Parent Leadership, IDRA Newsletter, September 6, 1997

Valuing Assumptions


6 Principles for Family Leadership in Education – Infographic

Family and community engagement in education is critical to school success in providing academic excellence and preparation for college of...

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Valuing Assumptions

We champion and speak for the inclusive, non-discriminatory and triumphalist idea that all families (especially those who are economically disadvantaged,...

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