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A New Conception of Parent Engagement: Community Organizing for School Reform

This chapter provides an indicators framework for understanding the contributions of community organization to school reform and a theory of change model that shows the link between school improvement and the work community organizing groups do to improve community capacity. Particularly, the chapter contributes to the ‘new citizen’ discourse on the role of parents and community members in public schools. The research challenges the predominant discourse of parent invovlement and shows the process by which parents, taking action as citizens, can contibute to school improvement. It draws from a study by Research for Action and Cross City Campaign for Urban School Reform that documented the education organizing activities of five groups across the country over a 4 year period. The examination of the groups in the study revealed that their efforts are bringing new resources to schools with the highest need, improving school climate and creating better conditions for teaching and learning.