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Date of Award


Document Type

Dissertation - Pacific Access Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


Curriculum and Instruction

First Advisor

Harriett Arnold

First Committee Member

Thomas Nelson

Second Committee Member

Robert Oprandy

Third Committee Member

Marrie Darlington


This study examines the lived experiences of African American parents in public schools relative to the educational goals they have held for themselves and their children. A phenomenological approach to understanding the complexities and diversities of the lived experiences was employed. Research questions examined how parents experienced, perceived, and understood their relationship with public schools. This study sought to describe a commonality of human experiences that leads to understanding in the lives of human beings. This was done through interviews which required retrospection obtained from a cultural perspective. The interview topics addressed the backgrounds and experiences of a group of African American parents and their children, their perceptions of the most salient experiences and interactions, and their understandings about those experiences while in public school. Nine African American parents, who have an ongoing relationship with public schools, were interviewed. The analysis of these interviews was done utilizing qualitative research in the tradition of phenomenology. Hermeneutics was employed for this study to focus on meaning that arose from the interpretive interaction between the historically produced texts of parents and researcher. The interviews produced profiles of each parent and, in cross-referencing their responses, it was found that themes of: seeing self differently, engaging and making human connections, reconfiguring past experiences, feeling emotions, opening new doors, and finding hope in pedagogy emerged. The researcher of this study provided new insights into the lives of African American parents about their experiences with public schools, and illuminated their dilemmas and general state of being. The goal was to allow the reader to listen to the authentic voices of these parents through storytelling and reflection. Finally, the researcher constructed meaning from these experiences and presented a composite description of multiple realities for the reader. Recommendations to educators and stakeholders include understanding the impact, and working to reform the structural conditions, of social injustice and economic inequality inherent in the entire schooling process. It is imperative that the stories of African American parents be heard regarding their experiences in, perceptions of, and understandings about public schools in order to assist students in achieving their highest goals.




9780496165445 , 0496165445

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