Forms and Patterns of Parent Participation at a Jewish and Catholic School

Feb. 24, 2012

Source: Journal of Jewish Education, Volume 78, Issue 1, pages 5-33 


In this paper, Renee Rubin Ross focuses on stakeholder patterns of participation. She suggests that, given that all schools solicit parent participation, an important question to explore is whether and how this varies by school. She draws on observation and interviews with parents, teachers, and administrators at a Jewish day school and Catholic school to identify forms and patterns of participation. She found that communicating and volunteering were similar at each, but parents at the Jewish school were involved in decision making and governance whereas parents at the Catholic school were not. This variation may be explained by the history and culture of each as well as trade-offs that parents make in choosing a particular school.


The author concluded the paper with some suggestions for further research:

"This study considers the nature and motivation of parental participation as well as the reasons for variation in patterns of parent participation. Since I only looked at one Jewish school and one Catholic school, I cannot form any conclusions about patterns across Jewish or Catholic schools. Further research might look at whether other Catholic schools also follow the “teacher helper” model, and examine a variety of Jewish schools to consider whether there are also one or two consistent patterns in Jewish schools…


My study also reveals that communicating with parents and managing communication with parents is a large part of the job of teachers and administrators. While some may advocate that more parent participation is always better, this study suggests that the story is more complicated: Parent participation can be constructive and also must be managed by the school. Further research might explore the steps that good schools take to manage the inherent tensions between school and parents."

Updated: Mar. 20, 2012