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Students Examine Parent Participation in West Philadelphia High School

This article is based on a collaborative study between Philadelphia Student Union and Research for Action, which explores parents’ perceptions about parent participation in urban high schools. The link to the full report, Writing to be Heard: Parents Speak Up and Out about Parents’ Participation in Urban Public High Schools is also available below. Student members of the West Philadelphia High School chapter of the Philadelphia Student Union (PSU), working with RFA as youth researchers, were interested in understanding more about improving urban public high schools through increased parent participation. Using surveys and interviews with PSU students’ parents at two West Philadelphia chapters, the student authors focused on what parents think good parent participation should look like, what their own participation looked like, and what prevented them from participating. The findings from this study demonstrate that parents want to participate in meaningful ways. However some barriers sometimes prevent them from participating formally in the things at the school itself. The authors conclude with several recommendations for what the district, schools, and parents can do to facilitate greater parent participation and improved relationships between parents and school staff.