Opinion
Families & the Community Letter to the Editor

Stereotypes of Parents Are Ill-Informed

November 26, 2019 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

To the Editor:

We are disappointed that Education Week has not only featured but prompted commentary on stereotypes of families in its Oct. 16 graphic “Principals, Have You Met These Parents in Your School?,” part of the special report “Inside the Principal-Teacher Relationship.” The piece regurgitates a set of ill-informed categories of parents ranging from those who are “tigers” to those who are “permissive.”

This oversimplification about how families approach their role in their children’s education panders to ugly biases in education. Would Education Week use a similar approach for students, categorizing them based on our superficial beliefs about what they can achieve? As a group of researchers and practitioners with expertise in family-school partnerships, we encourage readers not to be misled by this depiction of parents in your school.

Research by Anne T. Henderson and Karen L. Mapp from 2002 shows that how families engage in their child’s education is complex and subject to change over time or depending on their circumstances. Rather than rehashing age-old stereotypes, Education Week would have better served readers by telling them the truth—that what principals and teachers do to invite families’ involvement influences what type of parent they are.

A more constructive commentary could have been started by asking readers to share ways they’ve encouraged family engagement. Educators who treat families as partners—taking the time to get to know them beyond superficial labels—see better results for their students.

Principals and teachers, we urge you to avoid stereotypes and learn more by exploring the “Dual-Capacity Building Framework for Family-School Partnerships (Version 2),” which was authored in 2019 by Karen L. Mapp and Eyal Bergman. This framework provides research-based strategies principals and teachers can use to partner with families in meaningful ways, which will positively impact their students and schools.

Helen Westmoreland

National PTA Center for Family Engagement

Alexandria, Va.

Karen L. Mapp

Harvard Graduate School of Education

Boston, Mass.

Vito Borello

National Association of Family, School, and Community Engagement

Washington, D.C.

Anne T. Henderson

Researcher and Author

Washington, D.C.

Michele Brooks

Transformative Solutions in Education

Boston, Mass.

Related Tags:

A version of this article appeared in the November 27, 2019 edition of Education Week as Stereotypes of Parents Are Ill-Informed

Events

Jobs Virtual Career Fair for Teachers and K-12 Staff
Find teaching jobs and other jobs in K-12 education at the EdWeek Top School Jobs virtual career fair.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Achievement Webinar
Mission Possible: Saving Time While Improving Student Outcomes
Learn how district leaders are maximizing instructional time and finding the best resources for student success through their MTSS framework.
Content provided by Panorama Education
Reading & Literacy K-12 Essentials Forum Writing and the Science of Reading
Join us for this free event as we highlight and discuss the intersection of reading and writing with Education Week reporters and expert guests.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Families & the Community Photo Essay PHOTOS: 'It's Just So Hard Not to Smile When We're Doing This'
EdWeek photographer Ash Ponders reflects on their day with Cyndi Tercero-Sandoval, a 2023 Leaders To Learn From honoree.
1 min read
Cyndi Tercero, family and community engagement manager for the Phoenix Union High School Districts, meets with community liaisons at Carl Hayden High School in west Phoenix, Ariz., on Jan. 13, 2023.
Cyndi Tercero-Sandoval, the family and community engagement manager for the Phoenix Union High School district, meets with community liaisons at Carl Hayden High School in west Phoenix, Ariz.
Ash Ponders for Education Week
Families & the Community Parents' Bad Behavior at School Sports Events Has Gotten Extreme
A adult brawl with deadly consequences at a boys' basketball game has renewed concern.
4 min read
Photographic negative image of aggressive spectators shouting at each others while others intervene.
iStock/Getty Images + EdWeek
Families & the Community Poll: Parents Don't Want Schools to Focus on Culture Wars
Two-thirds of voters and parents aren't worried about teachers indoctrinating kids or teaching CRT, according to a December 2022 poll.
4 min read
Kids holding signs against Critical Race Theory at Mater Academy Charter Middle/High School in Hialeah Gardens, Fla., on April 22, 2022.
Students hold signs against "critical race theory" at Mater Academy Charter Middle/High School in Hialeah Gardens, Fla., on April 22, 2022.
Daniel A. Varela/Miami Herald via AP
Families & the Community How Schools Can Benefit From the Power of Positive Parents
Parents and administrators share what worked in their school-change efforts.
5 min read
Illustration of a parent and child outside of a school building.
A-Digit/DigitalVision Vectors