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Nuestras voces, nuestras palabras: (Our voices, our words): A qualitative study of Puerto Rican parental involvement

Brian John Rachmaciej, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Abstract

The purpose of this ethnographic study of Puerto Rican parental involvement was to understand how Puerto Rican families in Western Massachusetts view public education and participate in their children's educational experience. Although many studies look at parental involvement within white and non-marginalized families, only a few studies examine Puerto Rican parental involvement and the home environments of Puerto Rican families and how they support their child's education (Hine, 1992; Nieto, 1995, 2000). This study examines three distinct groups of Puerto Rican families with differing employment and income levels. For this study, the researcher interviewed twenty two Puerto Rican families. These families were either from the lower socioeconomic class, working class, or the professional class as determined by their employment and income. An ethnographic/qualitative research methodology was used within this research study, and this allowed the researcher to understand not only the participants' words but also the unique influences of both the community and neighborhoods in which the participants lived and raised their children. Data collection consisted of semi-structured interviews and observations of the families over a period of six months. The project's findings reveal that there are both similarities and differences between the three different social classes. This study highlights the importance of family relationships, bilingualism and biculturalism and Puerto Rican cultural pride as the central themes and findings that emerged within my study. Additionally, social class affected both the family's personal perceptions of their own skills and knowledge regarding their ability to support their children's education. Families with lower social economic class status were less likely to reach out to school staff and to question teachers given their perception that they did not have the same formal training or education as the teachers. However, families with greater income and education levels interacted more regularly, directly, and critically with school staff through actively engaging in dialogue with their child's teachers. To a greater degree, families with working class or professional class employment and incomes were able to operationalize or to name specific skills and knowledge that they could provide as parents to their children at home that would support their school experience.

Subject Area

School administration|Individual & family studies|Hispanic American studies

Recommended Citation

Rachmaciej, Brian John, "Nuestras voces, nuestras palabras: (Our voices, our words): A qualitative study of Puerto Rican parental involvement" (2008). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3336955.
https://scholarworks.umass.edu/dissertations/AAI3336955

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