Middle class African American mothers' perceptions of White teachers' interactions with their African American children in predominately White suburban junior high schools

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2009-05-15

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Abstract

This research study was conducted as a qualitative case study of six middle class African American mothers living in a suburban community. Their children attended a predominantly White suburban junior high school in their community. The study was designed to hear the voices of the six mothers and their perceptions of their children?s experiences in suburban schools. The intent of this study was to broaden the limited research base relating to the academic achievement of African American students from the mothers? perspective. Specifically, this study investigated the African American mothers? perception of their children?s interactions with their White teachers and the difficulties their children faced in advanced placement courses. This study used the specific words of the mothers to share their narratives. Data were collected through open-ended, semi-structured individual interviews followed by focus group sessions. Data collection and analysis occurred simultaneously from the interviews, focus group sessions, and field notes. From the analysis, themes emerged and were formulated into categories. The results revealed that mothers perceived: (a) teachers as holding a lack of cultural appreciation for their children?s culture, (b) low expectations held by the teachers (students constantly had to prove their ability), (c) a lack of communication from the teacher to the mother, (d) the teachers? lack of understanding of the mothers? preparation of the success of their children, (e) the need to maintain a role of advocacy, (f) the need to maintain a role of visibility, and (g) the need to maintain a role of proactive parenting.

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