Recent educational reforms include parent involvement as an integral part of school improvement, particularly for improving the achievement of ethnic minority and lower income children. However, the parent involvement discourse created by policy and other school-related texts constructs representations of parents that limit the possibilities for building productive family-school relationships. Through an analysis of parent involvement policy texts and family-school compacts, this study explores how parent involvement discourse controls who gets involved and how involvement is structured. The analysis indicates that parents, especially disadvantaged ones, are placed in a double bind, criticized both for lack of involvement and overinvolvement. The parent involvement discourse ultimately shifts our thinking about educational obligations - schools come to believe that they may demand parent involvement in exchange for providing quality education. In this way, the discourse reproduces, rather than reduces, inequalities in education.
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