Degree Date


Document Type

Dissertation - Public Access

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Academic Discipline

Adult and Continuing Education

First Advisor

Dr. Elizabeth A. Peterson

Second Advisor

Dr. Randee Lawrence

Third Advisor

Dr. Connee Fitch Blanks


The purpose of the study was to talk to parents who “fight attitudes and perceptions that date back centuries and a school system whose resistance to change is unparalleled” (Fine, 1993, p. 692) and see how they persevere as they try to transform this system. Narrative inquiry, using semi-structured interviews, was used to explore the common characteristics and motivations of parents who are advocating for changes within their children’s school. All the participants in this study were mothers of children enrolled in public schools.

The findings suggest that these women are: (1) influenced by others who have a legacy of advocacy; (2) have a history of volunteerism and activism; (3) are actively involved in traditional forms of parent involvement at their children’s school; (4) are very knowledge about the workings of the school system, their rights, and their children’s rights; and (5) possess many leadership traits.

The data also strongly suggest that these women are motivated by a combination of external and internal factors. These parents recognized things were ‘not right’ at their children’s school. They were aware that “better” educational experiences existed at other schools in their district. These parents were also motivated by frustration and lack of trust in the school system and were inspired by the actions of other parent advocates.

Implications for practice include the creation of curricula in adult education programs that will educate parents about the school system, their rights, and various means of advocacy. Recommendations for future research include looking at how children are affected by their parents’ activism.