• IDRA Newsletter • August 2022 •

The expertise and experiences of families, including those of color, those with limited incomes, and immigrant families, is invaluable to building a strong and supportive school community, and it is critical for district and school leaders to ensure their voices are represented regardless of their access to financial means or political influence.

Some groups are now dividing and intentionally pitting families against schools and against each other with the goal of passing legislation that whitewashes our history and current events. These groups, who purport to represent values such as “equality” and “transparency” are distorting information to families about their schools and encouraging them to make harmful demands and violent interventions in school policymaking to advance policies that actually widen inequalities and exclusion. They push their economic, social and political agendas in the name of “parent engagement.”

This is dangerous to a democratic society.

For students to feel a connection to and affinity for this country, they must be taught to grapple with its painful history, see the beauty and value in its ideals and the diversity of its people, and recognize the work still left to make our democracy better. Students, their families and their communities benefit from schools that provide truthful and culturally-sustaining curricula.

IDRA’s principles for family leadership in education give a roadmap for implementing a truly inclusive vision of family engagement in schools that centers traditionally on marginalized families and focuses on building more just, culturally-sustaining schools for all students. We encourage schools and policymakers to use these principles in crafting responses to misinformation and to proactively develop opportunities for meaningful and productive engagement with all families.

[©2022, IDRA. This article originally appeared in the August 2022 issue of the IDRA Newsletter by the Intercultural Development Research Association. Permission to reproduce this article is granted provided the article is reprinted in its entirety and proper credit is given to IDRA and the author.]