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Families & Communities

Valuing Assumptions

Texas IDRA Parent Involvement Valuing Assumptions

All families are important; none is expendable. The Intercultural Development Research Association (IDRA) adapted this phrase from our very successful
Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program in which we model the paradigm of valuing. Our use of the word valuing is deliberate and pragmatic. We wish to champion and speak for the inclusive, nondiscriminatory and triumphalist idea that all families (especially those who are economically disadvantaged, minority or speak a language other than English) are inherently good and worthy of being treated with respect, dignity and value.

IDRA’s goal is bigger than parent involvement in education, rather it is parent leadership. This model is a vision of all parents as advocates of excellent neighborhood public schools. We consider leadership the culminating set of activities in a spectrum of parent participation. 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 does support 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 IDRA’s Parent Leadership Model

See Sample “Deficit” Assumptions and “Valuing” Assumptions (bilingual PDF)

Sample “Deficit” Assumptions and “Valuing” Assumptions

Our parent involvement model has four major areas of focus: Parent as (1) first and continuing teacher of his or her children; (2) resource to the school; (3) decision-maker in education; and (4) leader and trainer of other leaders. Within these four areas we illustrate below the contrast between the valuing and deficit models of thinking and acting. For each area below are given sample “deficit” assumptions and “valuing” assumptions.

Parents as Teachers
Deficit Assumptions

  • Parents do not know how to rear children properly
  • Parents have limited knowledge because of limited formal education
  • These parents are poor because they do not have initiative and do not want to work
Related Types of Activities

  • These parents need a class on “How to Raise My Child for Success”
  • Simple, practical, hands-on activities are the best you can do for these parents
  • Provide lectures on responsibility; the importance of education; and appropriate child rearing practices
  • Explain how to get and keep a job
Valuing Assumptions

  • Parents have already taught their children many things
  • Parents continue to transmit values, beliefs and traditions to their children
  • Parents demonstrate their love for their children in a variety of ways

Related Types of Activities

  • Parents share successes in rearing children
  • Families share with each other how they observe important events
  • Parents compare and contrast how they show love, and also how they teach responsibility, honesty and other values
Parents as Resources
Deficit Assumptions

  • Parents are unskilled but they can provide free assistance for low-level tasks
  • Parents cannot assist with instructional tasks
  • If you are not careful and control their activities, parents can get in the way

Related Types of Activities

  • Use parents to make photocopies, watch the kids and run errands
  • Parents can help supervise the cafeteria and run cake sales
  • Rules for parents must be clearly posted. Limit time, space and label sections “for teachers only”
Valuing Assumptions

  • Parents can assist in a variety of ways, including tutoring and instruction
  • All parents are experts in their families’ histories and traditions
  • All parents have unique skills
Related Types of Activities

  • Parents staff reading centers
  • Parents give oral histories of their neighborhood. They share cuentos, adivinanzas, and trabalenguas (stories, riddles and tongue-twisters)
  • Parents show and tell a specific skill they are proficient in, e.g., making tortillas, tossing a ball, etc.
Parents as Decision Makers
Deficit Assumptions

  • Parents cannot make good decisions by themselves
  • School personnel know better than parents what is good for their children
Related Types of Activities

  • A few parents whose opinions you know and can trust are allowed to be on committees
  • Carefully guide parents to make decisions that you determined beforehand
Valuing Assumptions

  • Parents make decisions all the time
  • Parents do not need extensive formal instruction on decision-making
Related Types of Activities

  • Parents are given support to participate successfully in decision-making groups
  • Parents are given great leeway in what they want to accomplish and how they are going to get there
Parents as Leaders and Trainers
Deficit Assumptions

  • Parents cannot make good leaders in education
  • Parents should not criticize schools
  • Parents always lack the information to be advocates for good education
Related Types of Activities

  • Parents are trained to be effective fund raisers for their child’s school
  • Parents are coached to say only nice things about school
  • Parents are counseled to defer to the professionals and experts on all educational issues
Valuing Assumptions

  • Parents are powerful advocates of excellent schools
  • Parents can teach other parents
  • Parents can be spokespersons, catalysts, problem solvers, and resource linkers
Related Types of Activities

  • Parents conduct workshops on parent leadership
  • Parents give public testimony in support of excellent education for all children
  • Parents participate in public dialogues on schools that work for all children