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The relationship between parental involvement and school success in the United Arab Emirates

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The relationship between parental involvement and school success in the United Arab Emirates
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Al-Taneiji, Shaikah
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Academic achievement -- United Arab Emirates ( lcsh )
Education -- Parent participation -- United Arab Emirates ( lcsh )
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Education -- Parent participation ( fast )
United Arab Emirates ( fast )
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Includes bibliographical references (leaves 191-200).
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School of Education and Human Development
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by Shaikah Al-Taneiji.

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Full Text
THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN PARENTAL INVOLVEMENT
AND SCHOOL SUCCESS IN THE UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
by
Shaikah Al-Taneiji
B.A., United Arab Emirates University, 1993
M.A., Oklahoma State University, 1998
A thesis submitted to the
University of Colorado at Denver
in partial fulfillment
of the requirements for the degree of
Doctor of Philosophy
Educational Leadership and Innovation
2001


This thesis for the Doctor of Philosophy
degree by
Shaikah Al-Taneiji
has been approved
Date
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DEDICATION
I dedicate this thesis to Sheikh Zaid bin Sultan A1 Nahayan, the president of the
United Arab Emirates, who has encouraged the womens movement.


ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
First and foremost, I thank God who gave me the strength, perseverance,
and support I needed to make this endeavor possible. I also would like to thank
my family members who supported, encouraged, and nurtured my ambition;
without them, I would not have been able to stay on this path through the most
difficult times.
Sincere appreciation is given to my committee chair Rodney Muth, who
provided me with motivation and opportunity to succeed in this endeavor. I
greatly value the time and patience that he invested in my study. I also thank my
committee members-Michael Martin, Michael Murphy, and Bob Palaich-for
their suggestions to improve the study. Additionally, I express my appreciation to
Marcia Muth for her support and time helping me edit dissertation. Further, I do
not want to forget Steve Eslary for his generosity and support. Moreover, I would
like to thank the principals, teachers, and parents who graciously consented to
participate in this study.
Furthermore, I thank the United Arab Emirates Embassy, Culture
Division, for facilitating my residence in the United States and providing me with
the support that 1 needed to succeed in my study. I also would like to
acknowledge the Teaching Assistance Office in the United Arab Emirates


University for its support and encouragement. Last but not least, I thank everyone
who believed in me.


Al-Taneiji, Shaikah (Ph.D., Educational Leadership and Innovation)
The Relationship between Parental Involvement and School Success in the United
Arab Emirates
Thesis directed by Professor Rodney Muth
ABSTRACT
This study examined types of parental involvement in UAE schools and
determined whether parental involvement contributes to the success of
distinguished schools. In order to answer the studys questions, interviews
were conducted with principals, teachers, and parents from distinguished schools
and regular schools in Dubia, Shaijah, and Ras al-khyamah. The distinguished
schools had received the Hamadan Award for Distinguished Academic
Performance. In order to make comparisons, regular schools were selected from
similar locations, levels, and genders as the distinguished schools.
The sample for the study included 70 subjects-10 principals, 30 teachers, and 30
parents. The subjects came from 10 schools: two high schools for girls and two
for boys and two middle schools for girls in Dubai, two upper-elementary schools
for girls from Shaijah, and two basic-elementary schools for boys from Ras al-
khyamah. Five of the schools were distinguished and five were regular schools.
I found that the most of the parents practice the first type of parental involvement,
parenting at home. The schools communicate with parents, but few parents
respond to them. Only a few parents help their children with learning at home,
mostly because parents level of education does not help them work with their
children. Additionally, as children get older parents prefer that their children be
independent. Further, parents attend school activities, depending on the occasion.
If the activity is a celebration, attendance might be high, but if it is a lecture, only
a few parents might attend. Parents generally are not involved in decision-making
in their schools, and they tend not to help schools gain support from community
organizations. Finally, I found that parental involvement is similar among
distinguished and regular schools. The consistently low level of parental
involvement forces schools to depend on themselves to be distinguished and
successful.
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This abstract accurately represents the content of the candidates thesis. I recommend
its publication. < }
Signed,

Rodney Muth


CONTENTS
Figures............................................................xiv
Tables.............................................................xv
CHAPTER
1. INTRODUCTION...................................................I
Statement of the Problem...................................3
Research Questions.........................................5
Theoretical Framework......................................5
Limitations................................................8
Significance...............................................8
Organization of the Study..................................9
2. LITERATURE REVIEW.............................................10
The Ministry of Education and Youth......................11
Before 1971..............................................12
After 1971...............................................13
Foreign Influences.......................................14
UAE and Values...........................................15
Summary..................................................16
Successful Schools.......................................17
Successful School Definition
19


Studies in Successful Schools
21
Summary....................................................23
Parental Involvement and Successful Schools................24
The Benefits of Parental Involvement in Schools............27
Barriers to Parental Involvement...........................30
Leadership and Parental Involvement........................32
Parental Involvement Types.................................34
Parenting at Home.....................................34
Helping with Homework.................................36
Communication between School and Parents..............38
Parents Involvement in Childrens Activities.........39
Parents as Decision Makers............................39
The Influence of Demographic Factors in Parental
Involvement in Schools.....................................40
Summary....................................................42
3. METHODOLOGY....................................................44
Subjects...................................................46
Instrument.................................................48
Section One...........................................49
Section Two...........................................50
Section Three.........................................50
Validity and Reliability..............................51
Procedures.................................................51


Analyses.....................................................54
4. THE PRINCIPALSSTORY............................................61
The Principals of Distinguished Schools......................62
Parenting at Home......................................62
Communication Between the School and Parents.....65
Involving Parents in Classrooms and School Activities..67
Helping Children with Learning at Home.................71
Involving Parents in Decision Making...................71
Bringing Schools and Parents Together to Get Community
Organizations Support.................................73
Parents and School Success.............................74
The Principals of Regular Schools............................76
Parenting at Home......................................77
Communication Between School and Parents...............80
Involving Parents in Classroom and School Activities...82
Helping Children with Learning at Home.................84
Involving Parents in Decision Making...................84
Bringing School and Parents Together to Get Community
Organizations Support.................................86
Parents and School Success.............................87
Summary......................................................87
5. THE TEACHERSSTORY..............................................89
The Teachers of Distinguished Schools........................89


Parenting at Home........................................90
Communication Between School and Parents................91
Involving Parents in Classroom and School Activities....94
Helping Children with Learning at Home..................98
Involving Parents in Decision Making....................99
Bringing Schools and Parents Together to Get Community
Organizations Support.................................101
The Teachers of Regular Schools..............................104
Parenting at Home......................................105
Communication Between School and Parents...............106
Involving Parents in Classroom and School Activities...110
Helping Children with Learning at Home.................114
Involving Parents in Decision Making...................115
Bringing Schools and Parents Together to Get Community
Organizations Support.................................119
Summary......................................................121
6. THE PARENTSSTORY................................................123
The Parents of Distinguished Schools.........................123
Parenting at Home......................................123
Communication Between School and Parents...............127
Involving Parents in Classroom and School Activities...129
Helping Children with Learning at Home.................132
Involving Parents in Decision Making...................134


Bringing Schools and Parents Together to Get Community
Organizations Support...............................135
The Parents of Regular Schools...........................135
Parenting at Home....................................135
Communication Between School and Parents............138
Involving Parents in Classroom and School Activities.141
Helping Children with Learning at Home...............145
Involving Parents in Decision Making.................145
Bringing Schools and Parents Together to Get Community
Organizations Support...............................147
Summary...................................................148
7. PARENTAL INVOLVMENT IN DISTINGUISHED AND REGULAR
SCHOOLS........................................................149
Parenting at Home.........................................149
Communication Between School and Parents..................150
Involving Parents in Classroom and School Activities......151
Helping Children with Learning at Home....................153
Involving Parents in Decision Making......................155
Bringing Schools and Parents Together to Get Community
Organizations Support....................................155
Summary...................................................159
8. PARENTAL INVOLVMENT IN UAE SCHOOLS............................161
Parental Involvment.......................................162
Conclusion
166


Building Parental Involvement.................166
Needed Research...............................170
A Final Word..................................170
APPENDIX
A. PRINCIPALSINTERVIEW.......................172
B. TEACHERSINTERVIW..........................176
C. PARENTSINTERVIEW..........................179
D. CONSENT FORM FOR PRINICPALS................183
E. CONSENT FORM FOR TEACHERS..................185
F. CONSENT FORM FOR PARENTS...................187
G. PARENTSLEETTER............................189
REFERENCES..........................................191


FIGURES
Figure
8.1 Parental Involvement Types in the UAEs Schools....................163
7.1 Parenting at Home in Distinguished and Regular Schools.............ISO
7.2 Communication between Schools and Parents in Distinguished
and Regular Schools.................................................152
7.3 Involving Parents in the Classes and School Activities in Distinguished
and Regular Schools.................................................153
7.4 Helping Children with Learning at Home in Distinguished
and Regular Schools.................................................154
7.5 Involving Parents in Making Decisions in Distinguished
and Regular Schools.................................................156
7.6 Bringing Schools and Parents Together to Get Community
Organizations Support in Distinguished and Regular Schools.........156


TABLES
Table
2.1 The Distribution of UAE Schools Based on the Emirates and the Gender.....14
3.1 Distinguished Schools Participants based on School Level and Gender.....47
3.2 Regular Schools Participants based on School Level and Gender...........47
3.3 The Participants Codes..................................................55
3.4 What Do you Do to Prepare Your Child For the School?.....................58
7.1 Parental Involvement in Distinguished Schools...........................150
7.2 Parental Involvement in Regular School..................................152
xv


I
CHAPTER 1
INTRODUCTION
The modem education system in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) was started
thirty years ago. Education is the backbone for producing skillful students who are
capable of adopting new technology as well as keeping their traditional identities as
Muslims and Arabs.
It is commonly known that the only way to improve the productivity of
society is by improving the skills of the labor force and raising the educational
attainment of its citizens. (Abdullah, 1999, p. 28S)
However, UAE citizens are becoming more dependent on others to serve them
as consumers of western production, instead of working hard to be producers (Loaloa,
& Khalifa, 1996). Most of the people who work in the educational field in UAE are
from other Arab countries and have less economic status than UAE citizens. As a
result, UAE natives see teachers as servants to their children, not as teachers of their
children, which makes the relationship between parents and schools weak and
unproductive (Daa'ir, 1990).
Without collaboration between schools and parents, the results of education
will not be as effective as it could be (Epstein, 1996; Rosenthal & Sawyers,
1996). In fact, many studies confirm that parental involvement plays an
important role in having successful schools with outstanding student
achievement (Hara & Burke, 1998; Reilly, 1995).
The government provides every UAE citizen with a job, and most youth can
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find a job without high qualifications. This tempts many students to drop out of
school and look for a job to make a quick profit (Daair, 1990). In addition, as time
has passed a lot of things have changed: a typical UAE citizens income no longer
covers the full expenses that people have, and the country cannot depend on oil
forever. Higher-level jobs require more qualifications than just knowing how to read
and to write. Finishing high school is the main door to open many opportunities for
those who want to have the skills and education to move them to a good job and a
status that has more money. Besides, the government has realized that depending
heavily on outsiders threatens the countrys stability (Abdullah, 1999).
So, school is the first place that the government has to concentrate on to
produce skillful youth who are capable of running the country. The government has
realized the necessity of educating UAE citizens and has made education compulsory
in the elementary grades. However, the school by itself cannot do the whole job, and
parents need to cooperate with educators especially since studies confirm that
parental involvement has a positive influence on the students achievement in the
schools (Catsambis & Garland, 1997; Parker, Boak, & Criffin, 1999). Meanwhile,
many parents think that they are not capable of helping their children with their
schoolwork (Anderson & Smith, 1999), and this is logical because most of the parents
themselves are not well educated in the UAE.
Therefore, this study examines whether parents involvement in the UAE
schools makes any difference in schools success. Since no study in the United Arab
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Emirates has examined the relationship between parents and schools, I depend mostly
on American educational literature, which has a long history of examining parental
involvement in schools, to formulate my research questions and carry out the study.
Statement of the Problem
The social system in the United Arab Emirates is changing from its basis in
Bedouin and Islamic traditions and is responding to modernization because most of
the countys people have become wealthy. People are busy with their new, modem
living, doing business and traveling. Television is available in every home and,
instead of sitting on the floor to have dinner or lunch, people are sitting on chairs
watching television while they are eating, which impedes their socialization with each
other (Al-Qasimi, 1999; Loaloa, & Khalifa, 1996). Almost every home has one maid
or more to serve, clean, and raise the children.
The relationship between parents and their children is changing. Parents have
less time for their children than they did in the past because they are busy with their
business and pursuit of materialistic values. Also, Western values and technology can
distract children. The nature of the parents authority over their children has changed
from what it was, and it is no longer based on respect, obedience, and closeness
(Daair, 1990).
Further, the nature of the relationship between teachers and their students has
been changing in similar ways. Most of the students come to the secondary schools
3


with their own cars. UAE students often see teachers as servants and are usually
wealthier than the teachers who come from different Arab countries and have less
social status. Teachers no longer receive the respect that they were previously
accorded, even though Arabic values state that he who has taught me a craft has
enslaved me (Daair, 1990, p. 35). These changes in the relationships between
parents and children and between children and their teachers make it hard to educate
and discipline students. Even if administrators try to discipline students, parents often
ignore the school authority and complain to the Ministry of Education and Youth.
Today, children generally face increased challenges: lack of safety, lack of
discipline, increased pressure, moral decline, increased crime, drugs, environmental
problems, and family breakdown (Scott, 2000, p. 374). These challenges threaten
the schools job in educating students because these challenges could keep students
from learning. However, as studies have confirmed active parental involvement,
whether at home or at school, helps schools to achieve their goals (Ballantine, 1999;
Epstein, 1996).
Given this, I decided to explore the difference between five distinguished
schools, which received the Hamdan Award, and five regular schools, which did not
get the award. These schools were selected to represent the similar places, genders,
and levels. This study examines the types of parental involvement in the UAE
schools and determines whether parental involvement contributed to the success of
the distinguished schools.
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Research Questions
The study seeks to answer these questions:
1. What types of parental involvement are present in UAE schools?
2. Is parental involvement related to successful schools in UAE?
In the following sections, I discuss the theoretical framework, limitations,
significance, and organization of the study.
Theoretical Framework
To connect parents with schools, Moore (1990) discusses models that achieve
effective partnerships between parents and schools. He asserts that one model is that
in which parents could be policy makers. In this model, parents are empowered to
make decisions about the school policies, budget, and curriculum. Administrators
should ignore the normal tension between parents and teachers who view parents as
not having expertise. A second model is one in which parents are involved as
volunteers in classroom activities and school events. In a third model, parents
facilitate their childrens education. Here, schools enrich parents with information
and skills to deal with their children by inviting speakers for parents or holding
conferences with parents in the school. Further, Moore discussed ways of bringing
more parents to schools such as creating a space for parents to meet, training teachers,
treating parents equally, and providing different services to parents and the
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community such as health care, childcare, drug prevention, and parent support
group (Moore, 1990, p. 16).
Later, Epstein (1995) presented a comprehensive model to get parents
involved in their childrens education. She suggested a program that involves six
types of parental involvement. These types of parental involvement start with
parenting at home: taking care of the health, safety, and discipline of the children and
making sure that the child attends school consistently. The second type is the
obligation of the school toward the parents where the school communicates with
parents, sends them memos and flyers, and calls on them to be visible in the school.
The third type occurs when parents are involved with their childrens education and
help them in reading, in their homework, or in any activity that is required. The
fourth type is parents being involved in the school, helping teachers in the classroom
and participating in the school activities. The fifth type occurs when parents are
active in the school governance by being a part of the Parent Teacher Association
(PTA) or any organization that works for interest of the school and students. The
sixth type is getting parents and the school to collaborate with the community
organizations and get their support.
Epstein (1995) agrees with Moore (1990) that the following types of parental
involvement are essential: helping children at home, whether facilitating their
education by taking care of their health and the home atmosphere or by helping their
children with their reading and their homework; participating in the classroom and
6


school activities; and being policy makers through involvement with the PTA or any
organization that represents their voices in their childrens education. However,
Epstein (1995) offers more types of parental involvement in schools. She addresses
the communication between school and parents and school-parent collaboration to get
support from the community organizations.
Based on Epsteins (1995) and Moores (1990) models for parental
involvement in schools, I delineate my research questions around six types of parental
involvement: (a) parenting at home by taking care of childrens health, their
discipline, and their school attendance; (b) communicating between school and
parents; (c) involving parents in classes and school activities; (d) helping children
with their learning at home; (e) involving parents in making decisions in schools
through the PTA or any organization that represents them; and (f) bringing schools
and parents together to get the support of community organizations. If distinguished
schools tend to have most of these types of parental involvement, and regular do not,
then it might be possible to conclude that parental involvement plays a significant
role in school success.
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Limitations
The results of the study are limited to the United Arab Emirates schools and,
perhaps, only to the 10 schools examined.
Significance
The study compares five distinguished schools with five regular schools to
determine whether parents play a significant role in school achievement. The results
of this study may be useful to principals, teachers, parents, policymakers, and
researchers.
This study might help principals and teachers recognize parents roles in their
childrens education. It suggests to the principals, for example, the potential of clear
objectives to involve parents and specific activities to achieve them. It may also
encourage teachers to work with parents and present suggestions to teachers about
how to communicate better with parents.
As a result of this study, parents may better know whether their roles are
important in their childrens education, and they could leam about the school staffs
perceptions about their involvement. Further, the results of the study are available to
policymakers, particularly the Ministry of Education and Youth. The relationship
between schools and parents may require written policies to regulate and encourage
effective participation between them, which schools in the United Arab Emirates do
8


not have. The study may provide an opportunity for policymakers to take advantage
of the suggestions offered to develop policies. Last but not least, this study is
available for researchers and the public who wish to build and act based on its results.
Organization of the Study
Chapter one has introduced the study, and Chapter two gives information
about the United Arab Emirates, the current situation in UAE schools, and focuses on
parental involvement, school success, and the role of school leadership in both. The
literature review mainly comes from the United States since little research is available
in the UAE. Chapter three presents the methodology that was be used to gather data
for the study. Chapters four through seven present the results of the study and chapter
eight offers conclusions and recommendations about what might be done to improve
parental involvement in schools and communication between schools and parents.
Suggestions for future studies also are presented in eight.
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CHAPTER TWO
LITERATURE REVIEW
The geographic, demographic, political, economic, and social background of
the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is critical to understanding the challenges faced by
the UAE society and its schools. The United Arab Emirates is in Asia, on the
Arabian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman. The UAE is a federation of seven Emirates:
Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Dubai, Fujairah, Ras al-Khaimah, Shaijah, and Umm al-Qaiwain.
The capital of the United Arab Emirates is Abu Dhabi, which gained independenc e in
December 1971 after being a British colony (Al-Qasimi, 1999).
All of the Emirates are located on the north side of the Arabian Gulf, except
Fujairah which is located on the Gulf of Oman. The UAE with its islands and
disputed borders is 32.278 square miles; Abu Dhabi has 86.67 % of the area, Dubia
has 5%, Shaijah has 3.33%, Ras al-Khaimah has 2.17 %, Umm al-Qaiwain has 1%,
Ajman has 0.33 %, and finally Fujairah has 1.5. Most of the UAE is desert, mainly
in the west and inner part. The eastern section is mostly mountains. The UAE is
known for its high humidity and hot temperatures. In summer, the temperature
reaches 100.4 Fahrenheit. However, November and March are the best months when
the temperature falls between 78 to 59 Fahrenheit (Al-Qasimi, 1999).
The UAE population was 2,398,000 in 2001 (The Population, 2001). Most
10


people of the UAE are Muslim. Three quarters of UAEs population is non-native.
Arabic is the official language, but Farsi and English are used widely. The
government of the UAE depends mostly on oil, which makes the country rich and has
enabled it to develop in every arena in a short time (Abdullah, 1999).
The federal government runs the country; however, every emirate has rulers
who run local affairs. The federal government, nevertheless, has the right to question
local decisions. The highest authorities in the country are the president, who has the
final word in any law, the Supreme Council, consisting of the seven local rulers, and
the Cabinet of Ministers. Usually, the Cabinet of Ministers proposes the laws and
sends them to the Federal National Council for consideration, and these proposals
become laws when the Supreme Council approves them. Each ministry is responsible
for managing its own affairs, and the authority for education is centered in the
Ministry of Education and Youth.
The Ministry of Education and Youth
The Ministry of Education and Youth is responsible for planning and
improving the educational system for all the Emirates. It provides the schools with
teachers and the necessary resources for the separate boys and girls schools to achieve
desired goals. The schools have nothing to do with making policies; all decisions are
made centrally. The main job for the schools is to implement the Ministry of
Education and Youths rules and to push students to memorize the textbooks for final
11


exams. Lecture is the traditional method for teaching students. Teaching is oriented
toward examinations. Subjects are taught following a structured timetable, and
students carry that to their homes. The curriculum is the same throughout all of the
Emirates (Daair, 1990) and is based on Islamic and Arabic values but oriented to
new ideas and technology, which differ from those before 1971.
Before 1971
Education in the UAE before 1971 was simple. The UAE was under colony
agreement with the British, and this served to limit the areas development, especially
in education, because of the British policy of non-involvement (Daair, 1990). Thus,
the first educational development came not from the British but from the rich pearl
merchants who had funded the schools in the early 1900s.
In these early schools, Al- mutawa, the Arabic name for teacher, taught the
Quran Karum, basic Arabic, and math beginning in 1902. In 1911, religious schools
were opened in some cities such as Shaijah and Dubai to teach religion and language.
Three traditional schools were established in Abu Dhabi. Ras Al-Khamiah and
Ajman had just one school each, whereas no formal education was available in Umm
Al-Quwain and Fujairah. So, few people benefited from this kind of education, and
most people were illiterate (Al-Banna, 1990).
In 1953, the modem educational process started when Al Qusmiah School was
opened in Shaijah; it received Arabic aid, especially from Kuwait, Saudi Arabia,
12


Egypt) Qatar, and Bahrain, and gradually schools started to multiply out. Female
education started in 1953 in the Alzahra primary school. In 1955, modem education
reached the secondary level. Technical, commercial, and agricultural education
started in the late 1950s (Daair, 1990).
After 1971
After the UAE was created in 1971, the number of schools started to increase,
especially after the Ministry of Education was established. The UAE educational
system started with 73 schools with only 32,800 students in 1971. By 2000-2001, the
country had 728 public schools with 326,554 students (Ministry of Education and
Youth, 2001) and 400 private schools with more than 203,000 students (UAE Gives
Priority to Education, 1999).
According to the Ministry of Education (2001), the number of teachers and
administrative staff for 2000-2001 was 27,512. In 2000-2001, the percent of UAE
native students in public schools according to their stages in school are as follows:
kindergarten, 94%; primary stage, 65.8%; preparatory level, 67%; secondary level,
64.5 %; and technical, 94 %. The following table shows the distribution of schools
through out the UAE according to the Ministry of Education statistics for 2000-2001.
The UAEs illiteracy rate dropped dramatically from 45.8 percent for males in 1975
to 18.4 percent in 1995 and from 69.1 percent for females in 1975 to 12.1 percent in
13


1995. This was due primarily to literacy classes at adult education centers (A1 Abed
& Vine, 1999).
Table 2.1
The Distribution of UAE Schools Based on the Emirate and the Gender
Emirate School Gender Male Female Mixed Total
Abu Dhabi 140 133 31 304
Dubai 38 36 14 88
Sharjah 53 51 17 121
Ajamn 18 17 6 41
Ummal-Qaiwain 13 10 4 27
Fujairah 20 21 10 51
Ras al-Khaimah 40 40 16 96
Total 322 308 98 728
Foreign Influences
The country started to build its basic instruction through foreign expertise
because it did not have skilled local people who were able to work in developing the
country. Foreign workers currently represent 93 percent of all workers in the UAE
(Abudalah, 1999). Although the country benefits from the expertise foreigners, they
bring new social problems to the country. Foreigners use their language, even with
Arabic people. They bring their culture that differs from the host culture. For
instance, alcohol is allowed in most of the Emirates, which contradicts the traditional
societys values (Al-Banna, 1990). Moreover, in a report for Reuters, Aboudi (1998)
14


confessed that foreigners have contributed to increased crime rates in areas such as
drugs, prostitution, and pornography.
Further, these foreigners come from different countries, such as those in Asia,
as well as other Arabic countries. Some of them are from poor countries, and others
are from more developed countries. This variety of background creates conflict
among these foreigners over their values and their traditions which is reflected in the
quality of their work. As a result, UAE locals do not feel satisfied with the
foreigners work, and the foreigners do not feel accountable to the UAE country. All
these changes threaten the UAEs identity and traditional values (Abdullah, 1999).
UAE and Values
The UAE society holds Bedouin and Islamic values (Daair, 1990).
Traditionally, most women stayed at home to manage their households while men
were responsible for working outside the home; however, these features have changed
since modem life started in 1971. Both men and women now participate in the
workforce. All people are working hard to have a better life. The mosque is the most
influential place in the peoples life because it is the center of Islamic life. However,
modem technology, which came with the discovery of oil, opened society to many
changes.
As a result of having many people who are illiterate and dependent on foreign
expertise to run the country, the traditional Bedouin and Islamic values are threatened
15


(Daair, 1990). The Ministry of Education and Youth released a policy document
outlining a strategy for educational development in the UAE up to the year 2020
based on several five-year plans. One of the new policy goals is to introduce
technology for all levels with a computer for every 10 students in kindergarten, every
five students at primary school, every two students at preparatory school, and every
student at secondary school (Ministry of Education and Youth, 2000). However, this
educational policy will not be effective without collaboration between the Ministry of
Education and Youth and the community, especially parents whose support could
make the change possible (Dodd, 1996).
Summary
The UAE has achieved considerable progress in a short time; nevertheless, it
confronts many economic and social challenges in educating its the people by its own
people. Bringing in many foreign people to run the country may threaten the
countrys stability. Development in the country is based on oil income, which
frequently changes based on the world oil market. And, oil is not guaranteed to last
forever (Abdullah, 1999). To have a well-educated people, the Ministry of Education
and Youth is working to strengthen the relationship between schools and parents
because
The family plays a crucial role in childrens development-because of the
importance of early learning, because learning is cumulative, because children
spend so much time at home-it seems reasonable to suggest that when
t
16
i


children are likely to experience difficulties in school, the provision of
assistance to families could be useful. (Kellaghan, Sloane, Alvarez, & Bloom,
1993, p. 15)
Successful Schools
Considering the fact that no study in the United Arab Emirates focuses on
parental involvement in schools, most of my review of research is from American
literature. However, because of culture differences, the research in the U.S. may or
may not focus on issues that adequately reflect what happens in the UAE.
Regardless, it is important to note that parents everywhere care about their children,
and are important for their childrens success in school (Epstein & Sanders, 1998, p.
392).
Having successful schools for children of all ages and all types is the longing
of every educator and everyone who wants children to live in a healthy, safe, and
functional learning environment. Various studies have been conducted to find the
essential keys that successful schools share (Becker, 1992; Bliss, Firestone, &
Richards, 1991; Oakes & Lipton, 1990; Purkey & Smith, 1983; Reilly, 1995).
After reviewing the literature, Purkey and Smith (1983) distinguished a
successful school by its culture that consists of a structure, process, and climate of
values and norms that emphasize successful teaching and learning (p. 442). They
asserted that the factors that influence school effectiveness include organizational and
structural variables such as school-site management, instructional leadership, staff
17


stability, curriculum articulation and organization, school wide staff development,
parental involvement, school wide recognition of academic success, maximized
learning time, and district support. The factors also include process variables
encompassing collaborative planning and collegial relationships, sense of community,
clear goals and high expectations, and order and discipline, which facilitate learning
operation (Purkey & Smith).
In 1990, Oakes and Lipton outlined the essential elements for parents and
policymakers to make schools the best place for children. They stated that the
essential factors for effectiveness are the culture of the school (facilitating the
opportunity to leam and offering outstanding classes such as art, music, or even
math), certified teachers, accessible materials and equipment, structured time for
learning and activities, a rich curriculum related to societys needs and its values,
additional help for students during the regular classes, parental involvement, high
expectations, regular communication with parents about student progress, strong
authority that stresses teacher professionalism, and regulation. They also asserted the
importance of believing all students can leam, not labeling students based on
intelligence and ability because it segregates them, using assessments that measure
learning and thinking processes, and having policy makers who can work to achieve
quality and equity in schools.
Moreover, Bliss, Firestone, and Richards (1991) emphasized that instruction
in basic skills, leadership style, academic expectations, regulation, and school climate
18


make the difference in schools, while Becker (1992) narrowed that list to leadership,
school atmosphere, high expectations, instructional force, educational evaluation, and
community involvement. Reilly (199S) identified several characteristics of successful
schools: parents and teachers who share school governance; a safe place for students,
teachers, and parents; a clear school mission; teachers with the knowledge and skills
to achieve their goals; equality as the main principle for the school; adequate
resources; and teaching appropriate values and behavior.
Successful School Definition
The definition of a successful school should include qualitative variables
(i.e., school climate, instructional leadership, high expectations, etc.) as well as
quantitative variables (public achievement scores) (Frederick, 1987, p. S). Based on
what has been discussed in the literature, a successful school is a school that has high
test results supported by a clear school mission, a strong leader who exemplifies the
community norms and values, collegial relationship among teachers, available
equipment, a rich curriculum and extra-curricular activities that represent the mission
of the school, high expectations for students from the principal and teachers, and
finally, a supportive community, especially parents.
In the United Arab Emirate, the Ministry of Education and Youth does not
have specific standards to judge whether a school is successful. The supervisors from
each educational district have standards to judge whether the school is successful, in
19


the form of private reports. However, in 1998, Hamadan Bin Rashid A1 Maktoum
Award for Distinguished Academic Performance was established to reward
distinguished schools, distinguished teachers, distinguished supervisors, distinguished
students, distinguished families, distinguished projects, and distinguished educational
districts from all over the UAE.
A principal who thinks that his or her school meets Hamadan Bin Rashid A1
Maktoum Award for Distinguished Academic Performance criteria nominates the
school for the award. Then, a neutral committee comes to the school to determine
whether the school deserves the award. The standards, the criteria, for distinguished
schools are the following:
1. The school has a vision.
2. The school has strategic plan to achieve the school vision.
3. The school encourages student creativity and discovery.
4. The school has high results in school tests.
5. The school has training programs to improve teachers level of performance.
6. The school has projects to improve the level of the school achievement.
7. The school involves community organizations to help the school in implementing
its programs and activities.
8. The school is involved in different competitions, and it wins prizes (Hamadan Bin
Rashid A1 Maktoum Award for Distinguished Academic Performance, 2000).
20


Considering that no criteria exist in the UAE Ministry of Education and Youth
to define successful schools, this study identified successful schools using the
Hamadan Bin Rashid A1 Maktoum Award for Distinguished Academic Performance
standards and the ministrys designation of such schools.
Studies in Successful Schools
Many studies have used surveys as a tool to answer their studies questions
about successful schools, including Uline, Miller, and Moran (1998) and Hopkins
(1999). However, using interviews, observations, and case studies also should be
considered in order to get detailed information (Frederick, 1987; Guzzetti, 1983).
Uline, Miller, and Moran (1998) developed a model to examine school
effectiveness that consists of instrumental activities including reading, math, and
writing and expressive activities including teacher trust in colleagues, teacher trust in
the principal, and school health. The researchers examined 86 middle schools using
the Organizational Health Inventory for Middle Schools (OH I-RM) for school
climate. The study found that effectiveness correlates highly with both instrumental
and expressive functions (p. 477) which means that student achievement, faculty
trust, and school health predict a schools effectiveness.
Moreover, Hopkins (1999) investigated seven elementary schools and one
middle school in Texas to find out what lay behind their outstanding achievement
during 1996-1997 on the Texas Assessment of Academic Skills test. He used a
21


survey to evaluate instructional environment, instructional processes, administration
processes, and communication processes. He found that high quality teaching, high
expectations, monitoring standards, rewarding results, resources that facilitate the
teaching process, a cooperative work environment, and effective communication with
parents are what made these schools outstanding.
On the other hand, observation was used in a New Jersey State Department of
Education study, which was conducted in 1982. This study examined nine public
schools in eight urban areas, including eight elementary schools and one high school,
which had high levels of student achievement in basic skills. The study used an
outsider observer to describe the general school environment and examined the
elements that could be related each school's success. The observer found that the
principals leadership style and his relations with teachers and students, teacher
characteristics, teaching methods, support, extracurricular activities, and parental and
community involvement were the elements that distinguished these schools for their
high achievement.
Bearden, Bembry, and Babu (1995) combined qualitative and quantitative
methods by comparing 26 effective and 26 ineffective public elementary schools in
urban Dallas schools to examine the success factors behind effective schools. At the
effective schools, 1,860 teachers were surveyed, while 1,629 teachers in ineffective
schools were surveyed. Also, the researchers observed and interviewed all principals
and observed classrooms and examined school climate.
22


The study found that the difference between effective and ineffective schools
is clear. Teachers in effective schools participate more in decision making and work
more collaboratively than teachers in ineffective schools do. Principals and teachers
in effective schools are willing to solve problems and leam new skills while
principals and teachers in ineffective schools look for reasons for failure. The
principals in effective schools are models for their teachers and their students, and
these principals work to build positive learning environments. Students in effective
schools are more organized in their activities, while most of the ineffective schools
had chaos in their activities.
Effective schools have high numbers of good teachers who have high
expectations for their students and hold their students responsible for their learning.
Also, effective schools* teachers accept a new curriculum with enthusiasm, and they
work to engage students in learning. Most of all, effective schools were more
involved with their communities (Bearden, Bembry, & Babu, 1995).
Summary
Examining what has been written about the characteristics of successful
schools, community involvement, especially parental involvement, has been
mentioned frequently as an influential element in having successful schools.
However, the parents role is largely absent from UAE schools, so it may be that
parental involvement contributes to the success of distinguished schools, as the U.S.
23


literature on successful schools suggests. The circumstances in UAE schools are
different from the circumstances in U.S schools, and the purpose of this study is to
examine whether parental involvement is associated with success in UAE schools.
Parental Involvement and Successful Schools
According to the U.S. literature, parental involvement in schools is necessary
to integrate efforts at home and efforts at school for student achievement. Their
influence works in a reciprocal way. Students come to school with their values,
beliefs, and even home problems that could disturb their learning. Further, these
students bring home their experience, knowledge, and even new values that could
help or interfere with their social growth. If parents and schools do not collaborate
with each other, efforts of neither party are assured of producing long-term influences
(Epstein, 1995).
In fact, when Griffith (1996) surveyed 41 elementary schools to explore what
affects students academic performance, he found that parental involvement in
education had a positive relationship with students academic performance. He
defined parental involvement as involving parents in school activities, attending
parent-teacher association conferences and school activities such as open house and
back to school. On the other hand, school characteristics such as school size,
classroom size, and student-teacher ratio had a weak relationship with students test
results (Griffith).
24


The U.S. government has recognized the indispensability of having parents
collaborating with schools to reform their education system. Clark (1995)
summarized parental involvements history in U.S. schools from the 1890s, the
parents rights movement, to an international conference about parent involvement
held in Oakland, California, in October 1994. In 1965, programs were launched such
as Head Start and Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act which
required schools to fund parental involvement programs. In 1970, the National PTA
was founded which proposed projects to involve parents in schools such as the Big
City project in urban schools in 1985. They also passed recommendations on parents
rights and responsibilities in 1991. In 1994, Americas School Act was passed, and
one of its goals was to have more parental involvement in schools by 2000 (Clark,
1995).
Not just government in the U.S. recognizes the significant role of parents in
schools. In Ireland, parents are involved with schools through National Parents
Council and in Canada through Parenting Advisory Committee. In England and
Wales, parents are involved with school governors and in Australia in school councils
(Middlewood, 1999).
Further, in 1975 in the United Arab Emirates the Ministry of Education
recognized the essential role of parents in schools and passed a law to form a PTA for
each school. However, after examining the field and realizing that the PTA did not
achieve the desirable goals to connect the school and the community, another law was
25


issued in 1981 to create a national PTA, a district PTA, a PTA for each class in the
school, and a PTA for the school to connect educators and the community effectively
(Fwaz, 1982). Late in 1996, the Ministry of Education made some changes and
released another law (3857) to reconfigure the national PTA, district PTAs, and
school PTAs. The new law did not include a PTA for each class (Ministry of
Education, 1996).
Parental involvement in schools is a term that has been mentioned in many
studies; some researchers have defined parental involvement, while some assume that
the meaning of the term is common knowledge. Philipsen (1996) for example, found
that parents differ in their interpretations of school participation ranging from inactive
support to actual participation in the schools activities to participating in decision
making. Wanat (1997) examined how parents defined parental involvement, and she
found that parents did not distinguish between involvement at school or at home;
however, parents did know the importance of being involved in their childrens
learning. Moreover, parents involved in schools can be permissive (not visible in
their childrens activities), authoritarian (controlling their children to the extent that
they do an activity for their children), or authoritative (encouraging their children to
be independent under their guidance and support) (Fabros, 1999).
Epstein (1995) developed a comprehensive definition for parental
involvement in schools when she proposed a model for involving parents in schools.
Based on Epsteins model, parental involvement starts, first, with parenting at home:
26


taking care of the health, safety, and discipline of the children and making sure that
each child is consistently at school. The second type of involvement in Epsteins
model is the obligation of the school to communicate with parents by sending them
memos and flyers and asking them to be visible in the school. The third type occurs
when parents are involved with their childrens education and in helping them with
reading, their homework, or other required activities. The fourth type is parents being
involved in the school, helping teachers in the classroom, and participating in the
school activities. The fifth type occurs when parents play an active part in the school
governance by being a part of the PTA or any organization that works for the schools
and students interests. The sixth type has parents and the school collaborating with
community organizations and to get their support for school activities.
The government and educators are concerned about having parents visible and
active in their childrens education because of the benefits that children get from
schools and parents collaboration. In the following section, a list of benefits that
schools, parents, and their children gain from parents being involved in schools are
discussed. Next, some of the barriers that block some parents and teachers from
having active parental involvement are examined.
The Benefits of Parental Involvement in Schools
A number of studies have documented the benefit of having parents involved
in their childrens schools whether for teachers, parents, or students. Haynes, Comer,
27


and Lee (1989) for example, used pretest data and post-test data to investigate the
influence of implementing a parental program on students, teachers, and parents
perceptions of school and classroom climate, as well as on student achievement and
attendance" (p. 87). The study used seven elementary schools. These were then
compared to seven other schools in the following year as control schools. Three
hundred six students were included from grades three to five, 176 in the experimental
schools, and 112 in the control schools. One hundred fifty-five parents participated in
the experimental schools, and 90 parents participated in the control schools. Ninety-
one teachers participated in the experimental schools, and 56 teachers participated in
the control schools. The study found that parental involvement had a positive
influence on school climate whether for parents, teachers, or students.
Additionally, Dye (1992) presented an experimental study, which was
conducted in London, with children approximately four and five years old in four
schools. The study lasted for three months. Each group, whether experimental or
control, included 24 children. A parental involvement program was applied to the
experimental group to see the influence of parental involvement on how students
achieve and how teachers and parents work together. The program consisted of three
components: meeting parents at schools, having parents input in the classroom, and
having parents and their children complete activities at home. The study used
interviews, questionnaires, and observations to determine the influence of this
program. The study found significant differences between the experimental and
28


control groups in national tests, social skills, concentration, and math. Teachers and
parents who participated in the program were satisfied with the programs results and
supported it.
Further, Hara and Burke (1998) used Epsteins model (1995) to implement a
program in an inner-city elementary school at the third grade level. The authors
collaborated with the local school council, eight faculty members, all parents of
students, and representatives from the community. Forty-eight percent of the students
were selected to be in the treatment group. The result confirmed that the parents
involvement program improved academic achievement for those students compared
with students whose parents were not involved. Also, parents who participated in the
program reported the following: (a) their interest in and appreciation for education,
the teacher, and learning increased; (b) the level of interest in their childrens school
improved; and (c) parents respect for the role of teachers and for the impact they
have on children changed dramatically (p. 17). Besides, the attendance of students
improved, parents participation in school activities increased, students self- esteem
was enhanced, and the number of discipline problems decreased.
Gestwicki (2000) points out that giving parents the chance to be in the
classroom encourages parents to understand what is going on in the classroom and in
the nature of the learning that their children need. Also, she said that involving
parents in the classroom practices helps parents to observe the typical development
for their children at certain ages and to notice their childrens behavior so that they
29


can discuss it with their teachers. Involving parents in the classroom makes children
feel that they are special, important, and secure (Gestwicki, 2000).
Likewise, parental involvement helps teachers to reduce the stress that they
find in their jobs and makes it more effective by using parents inputs (Lazar &
Slostad, 1999). Parents could bring concerns that could help teachers in their job, and
parents could discuss how teachers could help the children to overcome some of the
problems that they face (Rosenthal & Sawyers, 1996). Parents are a rich resource for
information about their children; teachers need to know their students past
historyyears of reactions, experiences, and characteristic styles of behaving that are
unique (Gestwicki, 2000, p. 135) so that teachers can meet students needs and
expectations.
Barriers to Parental Involvement
Although studies have confirmed the benefits that schools, parents, and
children get from involving parents in their childrens education, many parents are
not as involved as they should be. Thus, many researchers have investigated the
barriers that block parents from being involved in their childrens schools. Harry,
Allen, and McLaughlin, (1995), for example, mentioned that late information and
inflexible times for conferences, an emphasis on documents rather than participation,
and the use of educatorese or jargon limited meaningful participation for parents.
30


Also, Holden (1990) reported that some reasons behind low parental
involvement in school were lack of time, long distances from job or home to the
school, parents not being asked to be involved, and lack of transportation and child
care for activities. In addition, parents may not be sure about their abilities to help
their children at the high school level because of the academic requirements (Lazar &
Slostad, 1999). Some parents also may have had bad experiences with school when
they were young which makes it difficult for them to deal with school unless a
pressing need exists for them to do so (Grossman, 1999).
It is not only parents who have reasons that could prevent or decrease their
involvement in schools. Rosenthal and Sawyers (1996) assert that many teachers
believe that parents are not capable of being partners with schools. In fact, many
studies show that many teachers do not have pre-service or in-service training in
communicating with parents. Grossman (1999), Lazer, Broderick, Mastrilli, and
Siostad (1999), and Lazar and Slostad (1999) pointed out that, although people agree
on the importance of the home-school partnership, teaching programs do not prepare
teachers to have a positive attitude toward parents and to communicate with them
effectively. Also, the nature of the work at the secondary level does not help the
collaboration between teachers and parents because teachers are responsible for
teaching 25 to 30 students each period and the complexity of the curriculum makes it
hard to know every student (Lazar & Slostad, 1999).
31


Leadership and Parental Involvement
The principal plays a vital role in facilitating or hindering parental
involvement in school and the principal as change facilitator carries special weight
in school change (Hall & Hord, 1987, p. SI). Fege (2000) asserts that school
leaders should view parents as partners for educational reform not as appendages to
schooling or meddlers in their work (p. 39). Also, Wilson, Pentecoste, and Nelms
(1983) pointed out that communication problems between schools and parents are at
the principal level and depend on whether principals are willing to cooperate with
parents. Therefore, it is not odd that district policies and school traditions could limit
teachers access to parents or via versa. For example, teachers often need permission
from the central office and school board to work with parents collaborativeiy (Lazar
& Slostad, 1999).
Long (1994) surveyed leadership practices of 337 principals in Michigan
elementary schools with low, middle, and high levels of parental involvement. The
researcher found that the elementary principals who were effective leaders had high
levels of parental involvement in their schools, and Wanat (1997) found that
principals practices are essential to build a supportive environment for parents and
teachers collaboration.
Likewise, Carr (1997) found a reciprocal relationship exists between the
leadership style of the principal and the degree of parental involvement. The
32


principal who empowered parents by words and actions had parents who were more
involved, while the principal who controlled and depended on external motivations
had parents who are passive. The principal who sent messages that conflicted with
her or his actions found that parents hesitated to work with her or him. Thus, school
administrators have to balance the different power groups in school and facilitate
having a comfortable, friendly climate that welcomes parents, visitors, and other
community members, as well as a sense of fairness and equity (Bums, 1999, p. 188).
To have active parental involvement in schools, a principal should declare
clear objectives to involve parents and to establish certain practices and activities to
achieve these goals. For example, principal could provide different services to
children and their parents such as health services, and social service. Or, principal
could provide parents with a parenting education program which would help children
indirectly. Also, the principal could create good relationships with parents and
encourage teachers to work closely with parents. Finally, the principal should respect
teachers experiences and provide them with necessary skills to deal with parents
(Kreider & Lopez,1999).
Further, the principal has to broaden his or her own thinking about parent
involvement (Beminger, 1989, p. 32) and encourage parents to participate in making
decisions. The principal has to work to make parents feel that they need to participate
in their childrens learning and to ask them how they want to be involved. The
principal also has to convince teachers to work with parents and view parents as rich
33


resources to accomplish their goals. Teachers need communication skills to deal with
parents, and it is the principals responsibility to provide them with training programs.
Rewarding parents for their involvement could encourage more involvement
(Beminger).
On the other hand, Cooper and Mosley (1999) warn the principal to be careful
when the school calls for parental involvement because parents could not be prepared
well for that. The childrens environment could have problems such as divorce,
abuse, coercive relationships, and mental health problems. So, parents should be
prepared well before they get involved in their childrens education.
Parental Involvement Types
Parents could engage in different roles to provide their children with the
support they need to be successful in their learning. Five types of involvement are
explained in the following pages.
Parentine at Home
After reviewing the literature, Kellaghan, Sloane, Alvarez, and Bloom (1993)
assert that the main factor to determine students level of achievement in schools,
even predicting the level of education that they can reach, is the home environment.
Home environment consists of time and space management, the interaction between
parents and their children, and family values. The nature of the home environment is
l
34


what makes children ready to leam. Berger (2000) states that having children ready
to leam means that children have the care, conditions, environment, health
provisions, and nutrition that allow them to be ready to leam (p. 5).
In fact, Lam (1997) found that the academic achievement of children who had
high monitoring and supporting parents is higher than that of those who had less
monitoring and supporting parents after surveying 181 students in eighth grade and
interviewing their parents in two inner-city schools in the Midwestern U.S. Further,
Ballantine (1999) presented some suggestions for parents to provide a supportive
environment for their children to be successful: developing helpful skills for children
such as time management, providing guidance for watching TV, reading to children,
and supporting different activities.
Parker, Boak, and Criffin (1999) examined the influence of the parent-child
relationship which has emotional warmth, support for independence, and less
strictness and aggravation and of the home learning environment on school readiness
(developing childrens behavior and cognitive readiness so that they can adapt to the
classroom easily). The researchers used a pretest/post-test longitudinal design to
study 173 Hispanic mothers with their children, and they found that the parent-child
relationship and home learning environment had a positive influence on the student
readiness.
Moreover, Deslandes, Royer and Turcotte (1997) used a questionnaire to
examine the influence of parenting style and parental involvement in schooling for
35


525 students (243 boys and 282 girls) whose ages ranged between 14 and 16. The
researchers used the year-end point averages to assess the students achievement,
while they assessed parental style by whether these students perceived their parents as
loving, responsive, and involved; how their parents monitored and supervised them;
and how their parents functioned with democratic values and encouraged them to
express their individuality. The study found that students who report that their
parents are firm, warm, involved, and democratic do better in school than their peers.
Surprisingly, Paulsons (1994) survey of eighty adolescent students (34 boys
and 46 girls) found that parental involvement and parenting style had a positive
influence more on boys achievement than girls achievement. The study justifies
this finding by saying that peer and school influence is stronger on girls than on boys
during their adolescent years.
Helping with Homework
Helping children with homework is another role that parents can play in their
involvement with their childrens learning. Indeed, many studies confirmed that
helping children with homework can help them to do better in their schools (Keith,
1992; Schnobrich, 1986; Xu & Como, 1998). Keith (1992) investigated the influence
of home atmosphere and structure, TV watching, and involvement in school activities
on eighth-grade achievement. The study found that helping with homework is an
important factor in students achievement.
36


Xu and Como (1998) examined six families to determine how they help their
third-grade students with their homework. These volunteer parents are well educated,
had professional jobs, and helped their children regularly. The researchers used open-
ended interviews with children, their parents, and teachers. They also videotaped two
homework sessions for every family and conducted an interview reviewing what had
happened in each homework session. Three of these families were given a package
of homework every Monday to be turned in on Friday. The package had six to seven
pages of assignments including reading, current events, spelling, social studies, and
math while the other three families were asked to work with their children daily based
on their class work and, from time to time, do a long paper.
Xu and Como (1998) found that parents and teachers view the purpose of
homework differently from using it as an extrinsic reinforcement of school learning
or to seeing it as a means to learn personal attributes and skills or to get parents and
teachers approval. The study found in general that homework was a challenge for
parents and their children because it limited their participation in other activities.
However, the parents in the study tended to help their children cope with homework
assignment difficulties with different strategies. They arranged the homework
environments and managed time to keep their children focused on their assignments.
Parents also motivated their children and worked with their emotional states to ensure
that they did their homework.
37


Because of the documented benefits of homework, Schnobrich (1986), a
teacher at the George Howland Elementary School in Chicago, designed a program to
involve parents with their children to do childrens homework. One hundred eighty-
six parents from kindergarten to third grade participated. The program used frequent
homework tasks. Teachers graded homework, reported grades on cards to children
and their parents, and provided parents with a workshop to help their children with
their homework and their activities. The program succeeded in involving parents, and
the communication between teachers and parents become positive results for
achievement.
Communication between Schools and Parents
Having active parents in school became a request from many schools to help
them to do a better job in helping their students. Leitch and Tangri (1988)
interviewed 60 parents and 29 junior high school teachers to leant what prevents
parents from being involved in the school. The study found that the lack of
knowledge about how each can use the other person more effectively... is a major
barrier (p. 74). Teachers should have formal and informal communication with
parents by using periodic reports, calls, and visiting (Anderson & Smith, 1999) to
inform parents about what is going on in schools. According to White (1998),
Communication is the foundation of a solid partnership. When parents and educators
communicate effectively, positive relationships develop, problems are more easily
38


solved, and students make greater progress (p. 8). Additionally, White asserted that
the effective communication between the school and parents should be two-way not
just reporting from the school side.
Parents* Involvement in Childrens Activities
Students need parents to be visible in their activities inside and outside the
school. Young, Helton, and Whitley (1997) conducted interviews with twenty
students from a high school using a questionnaire to determine the importance of
extra-curricular involvement in school, home, and community and its influence on
students performance academically. The study found that the activities of students at
school, at home, and within the community have a significant influence on their
performance academically and their social and emotional growth.
Parents as Decision Makers
Brown, Perry, and Mclntire (1994) examined teachers and principals
perceptions about current and desired involvement for 152 teachers and 223
principals by survey. The study found that principals and teachers desire more
involvement from parents in mission, curriculum, and communication, but they do
not want involvement in assessing the curriculum. Another study by Lindle (1992)
explored the influence of school councils, which consist of parents, teachers, and
principals, on parental involvement in Kentucky. She found that school councils are
39


frustrated because of the level of attendance of parents and their tendency to
emphasize personal issues.
Moreover, DeLaney (1997) observed committee meetings and interviewed six
parents and found that parents like to be involved in order to serve their families and
communities; however, sometimes they are not satisfied with the way decisions are
made in school or with the relationship among the participants in their meetings.
Parents want more information and respect to be effectively involved which entails
involving them in a way that they prefer. White (1998) asserts that parents should be
involved in curriculum, course selection, discipline policies, and any school-reform
measures based on shared authority with educators.
The Influence of Demographic Factors in
Parental Involvement in Schools
Several studies reported that gender of teachers and parents, parents level of
education, parents background, and years of experience for teachers play a
significant role in the extent of parental involvement in schools. Bogenschneider
(1997) surveyed 10,000 students in grades 9 tol2 in nine schools in California and
Wisconsin that represent urban, suburban, and rural students from different ethnic and
socioeconomic backgrounds. Bogenschneider found that mothers are more involved
with their daughters schools than their sons schools, while fathers are involved
equally the schools of with their sons and their daughters. Also, high-level education
40


mothers and fathers were more involved with their childrens education. He states
that families with two biological parents were more involved than mothers or non
custodial fathers in either single-mother or stepfather families (p. 727).
Carter and Wojtkiewicz (2000) examined whether parents were involved
differently with the education of their adolescent in terms of gender. They surveyed
about 25,000 eighth-grade students and analyzed school discussions, parent-school
connections, parental expectations, parental attendance at school events, and three
measures of parental supervision (checking homework, limiting television watching,
and limiting going out with friends) for gender differences. Carter and Wojtkiewicz
(2000) found that daughters usually experienced more parental involvement with their
education than did sons in these areas.
Moreover, Al-Houli (1999) studied two hundred (100 male and 100 female)
teachers attitudes towards parental involvement in elementary schools in Kuwait. He
found that teachers gender influenced teachers levels of perceptions of parental
involvement: female teachers have more positive perceptions of parental
involvement. However, male teachers are more willing to work with the opposite
gender than female teachers. Male teachers believe that the PTA is more important to
successful schools than female teachers do. Al-Houli (1999) reported that male
teachers have less positive perceptions of parental involvement as their years of
experience decreased, while positive perceptions increase with years of experience
41


for female teachers. Further, Brown (1994) states that female principals want more
parental involvement than male principals.
Eccles and Harold (1996) surveyed 1,400 African-American and European-
American students from seventh and eighth grades. They found that parents with
high income and with more education were more involved with their childrens
learning at school than home. Also, they found that African-American parents were
more involved at home than European-American parents. However, European-
American parents were more involved at school than the African-American parents.
Bogenschneider (1997) also found that parental involvement differs among
ethnic groups, and Dombush and Glasgow (1996) pointed out that Asian parents are
more involved at home than they are in schools and that different ethnic groups
exhibit high involvement in schooling in different ways (p. 42).
Further, Dunlap and Alva (1999) noted that language and the level of
education for parents could affect their involvement in school. They mentioned that
teachers do not share one common view about parental involvement because of the
length of their teaching experience, their ethnicity, and their beliefs. Thus, a teachers
background may make it hard for some teachers to deal with parents.
Summary
Having parents active in their childrens education bears plenty of benefits
whether for parents and their children or schools. These benefits include improving
42


childrens academic performance, self-esteem, and school attendance and building
parents appreciation for education, teachers, and learning. In spite of the benefits
that schools or parents can gain from having parents involved with childrens
education, some barriers create obstacles to parents and schools working together.
Obstacles include late information and inflexible time for conferences, an emphasis
on documents rather than participation, long distance commuting from job or home to
schools, unclear responsibilities for parents, lack of teachers communication skills.
Likewise, the gender of parents or teachers or principals, years of experience of
teachers, and the level of education of parents could hinder active parental
involvement in schools.
Parents can play different roles, whether at home or at school, to enrich the
childrens environment for better academic achievement. These roles include taking
care of childrens health and safety, organizing space and time for their learning, or
helping children with homework and any required activity. Parents may extend their
roles in their childrens education and become involved in schools by organizing
school activities or being in classrooms helping teachers. Ultimately, parents also can
participate in schools decisions that concern their childrens learning.
43


CHAPTER THREE
METHODOLOGY
Many studies have found that parents usually get involved when their children
are in elementary school. When the children reach high school, parents involvement
in schools decreases (Catsambis & Garland, 1997; Philipsen, 1996). Thus,
elementary, middle, and high schools were selected for this study in order to discuss
whether differences could be found in parents involvement over the span of their
childrens education. Further, because the UAE educational system separates the
schools based on gender (female teachers teach in girls schools and in elementary
boys schools, while male teachers teach in boys schools), the study has male and
female schools to represent both genders.
In order to answer the research questions about what types of the parental
involvement are present in UAE schools and whether parental involvement is
associated with successful schools in the UAE, I looked for schools in the United
Arab Emirates recognized as successful by the Ministry of Education. However, I
found that the Ministry of Education and educational districts do not have criteria to
distinguish successful schools. While the supervisors from each educational district
examine schools, their reports are not available for public review. Because
44


the information in these reports is considered to be offensive to schools not rated
successful, such data are not made available.
Thus, I looked for the distinguished schools that win the Hamadan Bin Rashid
A1 Maktoum Award for Distinguished Academic Performance because they win
based on criteria established by educators who work for this award. I got the list of
these schools from the Ministry of Education so that I could interview their
principals, teachers, and parents. These schools included two high schools, one for
boys and the other for girls from Dubai, a middle school for girls from Dubia, a basic
elementary school (first to third grades) for boys from Ras Alkhyamah, and an upper
elementary school (forth to sixth grades) for girls from Shaijah.
To examine whether parental involvement contributed to these distinguished
schools, each educational district that had a distinguished school helped me in
selecting other schools that did not get the Hamadan Bin Rashid A1 Maktoum Award
for Distinguished Academic Performance but matched the distinguished schools in
area, level, and gender. During this study, the interviews sought the in-depth
information about parents types of school-oriented involvement with their children
and the nature of parental involvement in these schools. I used open-ended questions
based on Epsteins (1995) and Moores (1990) types of parental involvement doing
these interviews. The interviews were taped after receiving the permission of
principals, teachers, and parents, and then I translated the responses into Engiish.
I examined the responses for and categorized them by themes (Rubin & Rubin, 1995).
45


I
Subjects
The participants in the study were chosen based on three criteria:
(a) sufficiency (sites and subjects varied and representative of the larger population),
(b) saturation (sample large enough that toward the end, I would not learn anything
new from informants) and (c) the participants could be interviewed in the limited time
that I had to conduct the study (Seidman, 1998).
See Tables 3.1 and 3.2 for listing of schools selected and participants for this
study, where I list the level of schools, the gender of the school, the principal, the
teacher, the parents, and their numbers. In these tables, (F) means female school and
female teacher and (M) means male school and male teacher. The sample had ten
principals (two males and eight females) and three teachers from each school for a
total of 30 teachers (6 male teachers and 24 female teachers). I also had in my sample
three caregivers from each school for a total of 30 caregivers (thereafter parents)
that included 25 mothers, three sisters, one aunt, and one father. All principals were
UAE citizens who had bachelors degrees, and their ages ranged from 34 to 49. Their
experience ranged from 2 to 22 years. Teachers consisted of nineteen UAE citizens,
four Egyptians, two Jordanians, one Palestinian, three Syrians, and one Iraqi.
i
46


Table 3.1
Distinguished Schools Participants based on School Level and Gender
Schools School Principals Teachers Parents Totals
Gender
Basic Elementary 1 M 1 F 3 F 3 F
Schools
Upper 1 F 1 F 3 F 3 F
Elementary
Schools
Middle School 1 F 1 F 3 F 3 F
High Schools 1 M 1 M 3 M 2 F
1 F 1 F 3 F 1 M
3 F
2 M 1 M 3 M l M
3 F 3 F 12 F 14 F
Totals 5 15 15 35
Table 3.2
Regular Schools Participants based on School Level and Gender
Schools School Gender Principals Teachers Parents Totals
Basic Elementary 1 M 1 F 3 F 3 F
Schools
Upper 1 F 1 F 3 F 3 F
Elementary
Schools
Middle School 1 F 1 F 3 F 3 F
High Schools 1 M 1 M 3 M 3 F
1 F 1 F 3 F 3 F
2 M 1 M 3 M 15 F
3 F 4 F 12 F
Totals 5 15 15 35
47


One teacher had a masters degree, twenty-three teachers had bachelors, three
teachers had a license, and three teachers had a diploma. Teachers experiences
ranged from 2 to 28 years. Teachers ages ranged from 24 to 56 years old.
Some parents were illiterate, while others had had education through the third
grade, high school, and bachelors degree, and their ages ranged from 21 to 45 years
old. Parents represented different nationalities: two Egyptians, two Yemeni and 26
Emirates of which two are originally from India and Egypt. The parents who
interviewed had between 4 to 8 children.
Instrument
Interviewing is the best way to understand peoples experience and how they
make meaning of their experience (Seidman, 1998). Thus, face-to-face interviews
helped me get detailed opinions and experiences from principals, teachers, and
parents about parental involvement in the selected schools. During the interviews, I
started with prepared questions, and based on the participants answers, I used follow-
up questions when needed to get clarification and examples from their responses
(Kvale, 1996; Rubin & Rubin, 1995). The interview helped me communicate with
parents who may not be educated well enough to answer written questions, such as a
survey. Each interview lasted about one hour and sometimes less than one hour. The
questions were as clear as possible, and I did not ask any questions that could identify
the respondent (Gay, 1996; Krathwohl, 1998).
48


I had three sections of questions in my interview. The first section focused on
types of parental involvement. The second section had general questions about the
obstacles and beliefs that could keep principals, teachers, and parents from having
parents actively involved in schools. Even though the placement of demographic
questions is different from one researcher to another (Lecompte & Preissle, 1993), I
preferred to place the demographic questions at the end of the interview because
parents in the UAE were likely to be offended by such questions at the outset of an
interview.
Section One
This section focuses on six types of parental involvement in childrens
education. Under each type of parental involvement, I have some representative
questions such as how students get ready at home for school, how parents help their
children with homework, how school and parents communicate, what reasons lie
behind their communication, how often parents visit their childrens classroom, what
keeps parents from visiting their childrens school, how parents influence school
decisions, and what parents do to get community support for school activities
(Epstein, 199S; Moore, 1990). See Appendixes A, B, and C for copies of the actual
interview protocols.
49


Section Two
Section two of the interview has general questions for principals, teachers, and
parents about parental involvement in UAE. Principals and teachers questions are
about whether teachers and principals want parents to be involved in the schools, how
parents can be involved in the schools, what kinds of problems teachers and
principals face with parents, and what suggestions they would make to encourage
parents to be more involved in the schools.
The general questions for parents focus on whether or not parents want to be
involved in their childrens schools, how parents want to be involved in their
childrens schools, what barriers parents face which prevent them from being
involved in the schools, how principals and teachers treat them when they visit their
childrens schools, and what parents think about their childrens achievement in the
schools.
Section Three
The last section has demographic questions about the gender, level of
education, age, number of children that parents have, and years of experience of
principals and teachers.
50


Validity and Reliability
Content validity was established, which
is the degree to which a test measures an intended content area. Content
validity requires both item validity and sampling validity. Item validity is
concerned with whether the test items represent measurement in the intended
content area, and sampling validity is concerned with how well the test
samples the total content area. (Gay, 1996, p. 139)
My advisor from the University of Colorado at Denver, School of Education,
determined the content of questions that represents the intended content areas.
Further, a teacher from the United Arab Emirates University at the College of
Education independently analyzed and coded the data with me to establish intercoder
reliability (Weber, 1990).
Finally, the English version of the interview questions was translated to
Arabic by an assistant teacher in the English department at UAE University and me.
Then, the translated questions were reviewed by one teacher from the college of
education and another teacher from Arabic department at the UAE University to
assure that the language was clear and appropriate for the subjects.
Procedures
I got a letter from the University of the United Arab Emirates in Al-Ain to the
Ministry of Education and Youth (MEY) in Dubai to facilitate conducting the study.
After that, I visited the MEY to get its permission to do the study.
51


After receiving the permission from the MEY to conduct my study, I also
visited the educational district for each emirate that had the distinguished schools-
Dubai, Shaijah, and Ras al-khaimah- to get their permission, too.
The research department from each educational district in Dubai, Ras al-
khaimah looked at the interview questions to make sure that these questions do not
threaten the subjects or embarrass the Ministry of Education, the educational district,
or the school. Also, the educational district helped me in selecting other schools that
did not get the award from the same area, the same level, and the same gender. After
that, I called the ten schools principals to ask their permission to visit the school and
get the directions to each school.
Usually, schools start between 7:30 or 8:15, depending on the level of the
school, the gender of the school, and bus schedules. The school day ends by 2:00 or
2:30 in the afternoon. Classes generally run for 45 minutes in middle and high
schools. The upper elementary school day is divided into 40-minute segments.
Students have a break for 25 or 30 minutes after the third class. In basic elementary
schools (first to third grade), one teacher teaches all of the subjects, while in the upper
elementary schools (fourth to sixth grade) students have different teachers for
different subjects. Schools are not in session on Thursday and Friday, but run from
Saturday through Wednesday.
During my visit to each school, I explained to the subjects the purpose of the
study and the benefits that the school could get from it such as knowing how parents
52


actually participate in their childrens education and what they want parents to do to
achieve the schools goals successfully. I interviewed each school principal and
asked for a random selection of three teachers and three parents to be interviewed. I
selected three teachers randomly from a list of teachers names and three parents from
a list of students names who belong to the same classes as the teachers provided by
the principals.
I sent letters to parents through their children explaining the purpose of my
study and the benefits that they could get from their participation such as having the
Ministry of Education and Youth recognize their roles in their childrens schools and
facilitate their communication with their childrens schools. In addition, the letter
included my phone number if parents wanted to contact me for clarification about the
study or the interview. The next day, after getting their phone numbers from the
school administration, I called these parents to ask them if they wanted to participate
in the study. All of them consented to participate in the study.
I asked all the participants to sign an informed consent statement in which I
described the purpose of the study, background information about me, and the
benefits of the study. I also promised to share the results of the study on request,
which they could note on the consent form, and all the principals and most of the
teachers asked me for a copy of the study.
Helping participants to be comfortable in answering the study questions is
essential. Thus, I trusted my instincts and watched for participants nonverbal
53


behavior that might convey that they were not comfortable such as having a vague
expression on their faces for any question (Seidman, 1998). During the interview, I
watched the subjects reactions to each question and their body language to see if they
got comfortable. If not, I moved to another question until they get comfortable with
me, and then I came back to that question. I listened carefully to their answers and
asked for clarification if their answers were not clear or complete (Gay, 1996;
Krathwohl, 1998; Kvale, 1996; Rubin & Rubin, 1995).
The duration of the interview for each participant was about one hour,
sometimes less than one hour. I also asked each participant for contact information in
case I wanted to ask further questions for clarification. After finishing each
interview, I thanked each participant for participating.
Analyses
After taping the principals, teachers, and parents interviews, I translated
them into English, examining and categorizing them by themes. The first step in
analyzing the data is to code each interview (See table 3.3). I coded principal
interviewees from distinguished basic elementary schools as DBEBP and used
RBEBP for principals from regular schools. Teachers interviews from the
distinguished basic elementary school were coded as DBEBTl to DBEBT3 and
RBEBTl to RBEBT3 for teachers from regular school. Parents codes from the
54


distinguished basic elementary school were coded as DBEBP1 to DBEBP3, and the
parents from the regular school were coded as RBEBP1 to RBEBP3.
Table 3.3
The Participants Codes
Schools Level Principals Codes Teachers Codes Parents Codes
Distinguished Boys High DHBP DHBT1 DHGS1
School DHBT2 DHGP1
DHBT3 DHGP2
Girls High DHGP DHGT1 DHBP1
School DHGT2 DHBP2
DHGT3 DHBP3
Regular Boys High RHBT1 RHBP1
School RHBP RHBT2 RHBP2
RHBT3 RHBP3
Girls High
Schools RHGP RHGT1 RHGP1
RHGT2 RHGP2
RHGT3 RHGP3
Distinguished Girls Middle DMGP DMGT1 DMGP1
School DMGT2 DMGP2
DMGT3 DMGP3
Regular Girls Middle RMGP RMGT1 RMGP1
School RMGT2 RMGP2
RMGT3 RMGP3
Distinguished Girls Upper DUEGP DUEGT1 DUEGP 1
Elementary DUEGT2 DUEGP2
School DUEGT3 DUEGP3
Girls Upper RUEGP RUEGT1 RUEGS1
Regular Elementary RUEGT2 RUEGP 1
School RUEGT3 RUEGP2
Distinguished Boys Basic DBEBP DBEBT1 DBEBS1
Elementary DBEBT2 DBEBP1
School DBEBT3 DBEBP2
55


Table 3.3 (Cont.)
Schools Level/Gender Principals Codes Teachers Codes Parents Codes
Regular Boys Basic RBEBP RBEBT1 RBEBP1
Elementary RBEBT2 RBEBP2
School RBEBT3 RBEBA1
Note. (S) stands for sister, and (A) stands for Aunt instead of one of the parents.
Principals from distinguished upper elementary schools for girls were coded as
DUEGP, and principals from regular upper elementary schools were coded as
RUEGP.
The teachers from distinguished upper elementary school were coded as
DUEGT1 to DUEGT3, and teachers from regular upper elementary schools were
RUEGT1 to RUEGT3. Parents from the distinguished upper elementary school were
coded as DUEGP1 to DUEGP3, and RUEGP1 to RUEGP3 were used for parents
from regular upper elementary schools.
The principal from the distinguished middle school for girls was coded as
DMGP, and the principal from the regular middle school was coded as RMGP. The
teachers from the distinguished middle school were coded as DMGT1 to DMGT3,
and teachers from the regular middle school were coded as RMGT1 to RMGT3.
Parents from the distinguished middle school were coded as DMGP1 to DMGP3, and
RMGP1 to RMGP3 were used for parents from the regular middle school.
I coded principals interviews as DHBP for the distinguished high school for
boys and RHBP for the regular. The parents from the distinguished high school for
56


boys were coded as DHBP1 to DHBP3 and as RHBP1 to RHBP3 for the regular.
Additionally, teachers interviews from the distinguished high school for boys were
coded as DHBT1 to DHBT3 and as RHBT1 to RHBT3 for the regular.
The principals codes from the distinguished high school for girls were
DHGP, and RHGP was used for principals interviews from regular school. The
parents from the distinguished high school for girls were coded as DHGP1 to DHGP3
and RHGP1 to RHGP3 were used for parents from the regular school. Also, teachers
interviews from the distinguished high school for girls were coded as DHGT1 to
DHGT3 and as RHGT1 to RHGT3 for teachers from the regular school.
Next, I put each question in to a separate computer file and compiled the
answers from principals, teachers, and parents from distinguished schools separately
for each question. Then, I reviewed each computer file to search for themes and
concepts (Kvale, 1996; Rubin & Rubin, 1995).
I used a semiotic-clustering technique (Feldman, 1995) to analyze the data and
make sense out about how parents are involved in their childrens education. See
Table 3.4. This technique considers the relationship between connotative meanings,
signs, and parental issues that are associated with competing meanings, and it helped
me to look for different clusters of data.
Semiotic-clustering helped me to interpret the data based on the relations
among entries placed in one of three columns. The first column labeled signs for
each question where I listed all the various ways that the subjects answered each
57


question for each type of parental involvement. The second column was labeled as
Connotative Meanings. In this column, I asked myself what each type of parental
involvement means for this subject to see the pattern in the subjects answers.
Table 3.4
What do vou do to prepare vour child for the school?
Distinguished Schools Parents Signs Connotative Meanings Parental Issues
DUEGP1 I encourage her to prepare her lessons, and to do her homework, and I take care of her food and her clothes. The mothers role is supervisor and motivator The students depends on herself in studying
DUEGP2 When they come from the school, they change their clothes, pray, and they have their launch. They sleep for while after that and then they start studying. My daughter is doing fine in school, she does not need any help from me. The mothers role is supervisors, and the student depends on herself in studying Parents direct the students learning
DUEGBP3 We encourage her to prepare for her lessons and study what she takes every day, and we take care of her food and her clothes. The mothers role is supervisors, and the student depends on herself in studying
58


The third column labeled parental involvement issues. Here, I identified the
general issues that principals, teachers, and parents talked about.
The summary of the general issues suggested themes that explain why
something happens or what something means (Rubin & Rubin, 1995, p. 57) to fit a
common pattern or concepts supported by examples that confirm or disconfirm these
themes.
After that, I examined distinguished school principals, teachers, and parents
responses for similarities and differences based on repeated themes. Then, I
compared these themes across the files regarding the types of parental involvement in
these schools to discover connections between themes. I put into each theme all the
responses that spoke about one concept according to subjects responses and their
examples. The results of the study are organized based on the participants stories,
including the principals story, the teachers story, and the parents story.
For the principals story, I divided the story into two parts; one describing
distinguished principals schools and the second part describing the regular schools in
terms of the six types of parental involvement as the principals narrated. For the
teachers story, I also divided the story into two parts. In the first part, I described
teachers views of distinguished school on the six types of parental involvement. The
following table shows how I analyzed and interpreted principals, teachers, and
parents responses. In the second part, I described teachers views of regular schools
on the six types of parental involvement.
59


In the parents story, I explained the story into two parts. First, the views of
parents from distinguished schools on the six types of parental involvement, and then
the views of parents from regular schools on the six types of parental involvement.
The next chapters present the result of interviewing principals, teachers, and
parents. The results of interview are presented in a narrative form based on the six
types of parental involvement and the participants in this study. The next chapter
narrates principals answers based on the six types of parental involvement. The fifth
chapter describes teachers answers based on the six types of parental involvement.
The sixth chapter presents parents answers based on the six types of parental
involvement. The seventh chapter presents a comparison between the subjects from
distinguished schools and from regular schools based on the six types of parental
involvement to find similarities and differences of the views of distinguished and
regular school subjects.
i
60


CHAPTER FOUR
THE PRINCIPALS STORY
This study addresses these two questions: what are the types of parental
involvement in UAE schools, and how is parental involvement related to successful
school in UAE schools. To answer these questions, I designed open-ended questions
based on Epsteins (1995) and Moores (1990) models for parental involvement types
(Appendix A). Using these models, 10 principals were interviewed, five from
distinguished schools and five from regular schools.
The interview questions that I asked principals were based on these six types
of parental involvement: (a) parenting at home by taking care of childrens health,
their discipline, and their school attendance; (b) communicating between school and
parents; (c) involving parents in classes and school activities; (d) helping children
with their learning at home; (e) involving parents in making decisions in schools
through the PTA or any organization that represents them; and (f) bringing schools
and parents together to get the support of community organizations.
This chapter illustrates the principals views about the types of parental
involvement in the UAE schools, and whether parental involvement is related to the
schools success. First, I present the views of principals from distinguished schools
and then the views of principals from regular schools.
61


The Principals of Distinguished Schools.
Five principals from elementary, middle, and high schools were interviewed.
The two high school principals included a male principal for the boys school, DHBP,
and a female principal for the girls school, DHGP. The middle school principal was a
female principal for a girls school, DMGP. The elementary principals included one
female principal for a basic elementary school for boys (first to third grade), DBEBP,
and the other for the upper elementary school for girls (fourth to sixth grade),
DUEGP. The following section summarizes their views about the six types of
parental involvement in the UAE schools.
Parenting at Home
Most principals agreed that students appearance, their health, their test
results, and their activities are indicators whether students are well cared for at home.
The principals of the elementary and the middle schools observed that many children
were not well cared for at home. For example, DBEBP said, Fifty percent of our
students are well cared for, while DUEGP stated that seventy percent of the
students are well cared for at home. This percentage decreased in the middle school
for girls to 40 percent. In secondary schools, the principals could not decide which
students are well cared for at home and which are not because students at this stage of
education tend to take care of themselves. As DHGP commented, It is secondary
62


level. The students care about their appearance, and it is hard to tell of the home care
about them well at home; it is more clear in the elementary grades.
Additionally, the principals of elementary schools see that most of the
students come to the school ready to leant, while (this number drops in the middle
school to 40 percent. In the high schools, the principals could not determine the
readiness of the students. DHBP remarked that most of the time, I work to have an
attractive environment for them by having different programs and activities, and we
work to bring the students to the school by any means. As DHGP commented,
It is a problem for this generation. Now students are different from the
previous generation. Now, they have a lot of educational channels that
participate in educating them. However, we try to attract our students to the
school and limit other influences, especially the negative ones from the
Internet and the West.
Few parents send their children to the school sick or with health problems as
most of the principals said. If parents think that their children have small health
problems such as a fever or a cold, they send them to the school. As DUEGP said,
Some parents send their children to the school if they think it is a small thing such as
fever or simple pain in the teeth. Sometimes, parents do not know if their children
are sick. However, some parents care enough to come to school and take them to the
hospital. DHGP stated that
They care about their students. However, we have some medical cases when
the school nurse takes care of them. I notice that some parents care about
their childrens medical appointments and their time for check-up
appointments.
63


Further, some teachers complain about students who do not do their
homework, and it is different from one school to another and from one level to
another as the principals said. DHGP stated, Of course, we have it, but it increases
with art section and decreases with science section. In the science section, students
take science classes such as chemistry, physics, biology, and geology. In the art
section, they take art classes such as history, geography, philosophy, and psychology,
and usually it depends on whether teachers complain. DMGP commented that,
maybe from each class, 4 to 5 students do not do their homework, but usually 5% of
teachers complain about that.
I asked these principals what reasons could stop parents from helping their
children with homework, and they said that some parents are not educated, other
parents busy with their work or with their big families, or some parents are
inattentive. DMGP said,
Some of them do not know how to read or write, others do not care, others
have problems at home so they do not stay at home. Some parents do not care
about the school because in the end the girl will end up getting married. Some
parents prefer their daughters to go with them in the afternoon for social
visiting instead of studying.
DUEGP stated, It could be the family is big, and the mother is tired with the home
work. The father is busy with his job. DBEBP added that we have many parents
who are illiterate, ignorant parents and some fathers who are old like 70 and foreign
mothers who do not speak Arabic well.
64


However, all of the school principals invited parents to the school to talk with
them about how to support the students at home. DHGP asserted,
We talk with mothers and students to find out the reasons behind the level of
their achievement so we can direct and solve some of the problems that the
students have. Sometimes, parents give their children every material, but it
comes with an opposite effect on their achievement. We ask mothers to pay
attention to their children if their children are studying or just they are
pretending that they are studying. Having a private room, phone, and TV do
not ensure that their students will do their best in studying.
In sum, according to the principals of the distinguished schools, more than
half the parents take care of their childrens attendance, health, and homework.
However, the principals still complain of parents who do not seem to care strongly
and are not involved with their childrens homework.
Communication Between the School and Parents
The principals of distinguished schools invite parents to the school and try to
communicate with them whether by phone, by letters, or through personal visits. At
the high school for girls, the principal established a communication project between
the school and parents who are given passwords by the school to check their
childrens grades and the school activities on the computer. DHBP stated, Mostly
we call them, and we send letters to the parents and make the students sign a copy for
us so we can avoid a future problem with the parents or the student who may say that
we did not give him a letter for his parents. Likewise, DUEGP asserted that
65


usually, we send letters, but if we want specific mothers to be in the school, we call
them and provide transportation for them if they need it."
Some principals encourage teachers to communicate directly with parents
whether by phone, notes, or even visits while other principals depend on the school
social worker, who observes students achievement and tries to determine why some
students have academic or behavior problems by contacting their teachers and
parents, to communicate with parents. However, DHBP does not like the idea of
giving teachers the chance to communicate directly with parents because some
teachers may take advantage of that and ask parents to pay them as tutors for their
children. He said, Honestly, I do not encourage teachers to call parents, you know
why? To prevent some teachers from looking for personal interest such as to asked to
be a private tutor for some students, and from my experience it is better not to let
teachers call parents."
Some parents respond to the school communication immediately; others
ignore the school communication. DHGP said, Some parents are indifferent and
depend on the school. Some parents are busy with their work and do not have enough
time to visit the school. Some families have social problems such as parents
separation." Moreover, DMGP noted that some parents ignore our communication
and do not care about the school, and others do not have time to communicate with
us. Other parents do not have transportation, or they are busy with small children.
DUEGP added that some parents think that they did what they should do at home,
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and there is no need to visit the school. Some parents do not like being in the school
because they feel there is no place for them.
Most of the principals agreed that the best way to communicate with parents is
to meet them face to face. Yet, some like DUEGP prefer some training courses in
different topics to attract parents to the school. She said, Giving parents training
courses whether in cooking, losing weight, and computing could encourage parents to
communicate with us.
In general, the principals try hard to communicate with parents and meet them
face to face. However, obstacles to their communication include ignorance parents,
transportation, job hours, and small children at home. Most of the principals
encourage teachers to communicate with parents, but some still worry about teachers
who may misuse this to tutor parents children.
Involving Parents in Classrooms and School Activities
The principals of distinguished school reported that parents are not involve in
the classroom activities; however, most of the principals believe that it is important to
have parents visit the classroom or help in it because it motivates their children,
recognizes teachers effort, and encourages parents to help. DHGP, for example,
believes in the importance of involving parents in the classroom. She said, Parents
visiting the classroom could motivate students to do their best. Besides, mothers see
teachers effort in teaching their children which motivates mothers to help their
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children and their teachers. Another principal from the basic elementary school
believes that parents involvement in the class could be by providing the classroom
with needed technology. She said, We are in the technology world. If parents help
me to buy more computers, some overhead projectors, their children will benefit the
most.
Some principals believe that just parents visit could be useful to the school
and children. AsDMGPsaid,
At least their attending is important to see the teachers effort and see
the different levels of students achievement which could motivate the
mother to encourage her daughter to be like other girls who have better
levels of achievement.
Other principals think that parents could help in the classroom academically.
DUEGP remarked that if the parents are well educated, they can teach and give
some of their experience to students.
Thus, some principals think that most of the teachers will like the idea because
parents will be helpful hands for them. DHGP said, Teachers will encourage parents
to be in the classroom because it will benefit them and support their effort, especially
if parents believe that teachers are doing their best. Some principals said that some
will be happy while others will not because they do not like to be watched. DUEGP
predicted that some teachers will be happy to have parents be active with them and
supportive of their work. Others could hesitate because they cannot work with
parents in the classroom.
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Nonetheless, DHBP does not like the idea of inviting parents to the classroom
because some fathers could offend their children in front of the class, which affects
the student negatively. He said,
There is nothing parents could offer in the classroom. They just can visit the
classroom to see where their children sit. Some parents could be impolite
with their children in front of their peers and the teacher. They could say
something embarrassing or even hit the students which is not acceptable in my
school.
Therefore, DHBP could not anticipate what teachers reactions could be for having
parents in the classroom. He said, It did not happen before to tell you about their
reaction.
Not only are parents not involved in the classroom activities, but also not as
many parents are involved in school activities, as principals of distinguished schools
want. DHBP said that I have some parents who visit the school every week, and
about 20% to 30% are the same faces. I have parents whose sons enter the school and
graduate, and they never visit the school. Some parents visit the school when it is
necessary. Some of them visit the school when their children get their grade reports,
others when their children are in trouble, DBEBP said. Some parents do not visit the
school activities because the school does not hold attractive activities for parents. As
DHGP observed, It seems that parents do not like the activities that we do.
Usually parents who have good students at the school are the ones who are
visible in the school. As DMGP said, The parents of good students usually visit the
school, but parents of low-achieving students do not visit the school. However,
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DUEGP noted that I see some parents four times at least in a year. The reasons
behind invisible parents in the school, according to the principals, are that they did
not get an invitation, they are busy, they are not attracted to the school activities, or
they do not feel welcome at the school. Additionally, DMGP said that the school
does not know whether they do not care or they are busy with the world or with
small children at home or with family problems. DBEBP noted that some parents
do not know the importance of being involved in the school activities. They do not
know how much is important for their childrens achievement.
All principals wish that parents could be active in the school activities, and
other principals want parents to manage the school. As DHBP says, I wish they
could manage the school. Most of the principals agreed that parents participation in
the school should be around the school activities, funding, planning, and organizing.
However, DHBP said, I wish that I had a PTA who would come to me weekly and
ask for the school reports to evaluate my job to support the positive side and direct me
to change the negative side.
In short, the principals of distinguished schools recognize the importance of
parents involvement whether in the classrooms or in school activities. However,
they face that they do not have parents who can be involved in classrooms because
most parents are not well educated or are not willing to be in classrooms. Some
principals do not like parents to be in the classrooms because some parents could
embarrass their children if they yell at them. Also, these principals complain that few
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parents visit their school activities because they are ignorant, lack transportation, are
busy with their jobs, have small children, or do not find school activities appealing to
them.
Helping Children with Learning at Home
According to the principals, few parents come to the school to ask how they
can help their children at home. DBEBP observed, for example, that 5% or 10% of
parents care. DUEGP said, I did not have parents who asked me how they can
help their children. DMGP reported that he had few parents who come to the
school and ask some teachers how they can help their children. DHGP stated that 1
never had parents who asked me how they can help their children. Further, DHBP
noticed small numbers of parents who care about their childrens learning at home,
and usually they are from other countries."
Involving Parents in Decision Making
All distinguished schools have PTAs, and they range from six to fifteen
parents, mostly well-educated parents, who have positions in the community. Some
parents are nominated by the principal, and others are elected by parents.
The function of the PTA in the distinguished school is advisory. It does not
make any decisions, and it just gives suggestions to improve school activities. The
principals disagreed on the role of their PTA. DHGP said, They dont influence our
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school. They are designed as a picture. On the other hand, DHBP stated, This
association discusses things to improve school performance, whether school
achievement or the school activities. Also, DUEGP said, They support school
activities. They bought some computers and planted our school, and they support us
financially. DMGP considers the PTA as connection between the school and the
community: They connect us with the community.
The principals want the PTA decisions to be around improving the school
activities and solving students problems. DBEBP said, We want them to make
decisions regarding everything about the students: their nutrition, their learning and
their activities, and DMGP added, They do not make decisions. They just give
suggestion for the school activities and how to Taise the student level of
achievement. DHBP said, We discuss the schools activities and the schools level
of achievement, the relationship of teachers with students, and teachers and students
with the administration. DUEGP wants the PTA to find funds for school activities,
and give suggestions to improve school activities. Some parents asked us to have
curtains in the classroom, and we did. Other parents asked us to build a big umbrella
in the middle of the school to protect their children from sun, and we did.
All principals do not want parents to do more than give suggestions for and
opinions about school activities. For example, DBEBP said, We want their
involvement to be effective, and they help the school more with anything they can
offer." DMGP asked parents to provide the school with different services such as
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financial support, and connect us with different organizations.' DHGP wants parents
to participate in the school planning, and establishing rules that they want their
children to stick with. Further, DHBP wants parents to
support with everything that can improve the school work, especially money.
I cannot respond to their suggestions to improve the school without their
money especially because the ministry budget does not help that much and
does not reach parents dreams for what they want for their children.
All of these principals attend in the PTA meetings, and they wish to have
more active parents in their PTA. DBEBP said, I want mothers to be more active
and involved with the school, especially mothers of low-achieving students. DHGP
said, I wish that the PTA would be active and involved with school. I wish that
parents would come to the school to ask how they can be involved with school rather
than come to the school to ask about their childrens performance.
In brief, principals in distinguished schools do not want parents to make
decisions for the schools even though some PTA members support their school
financially and try to help the school activities. The principals just want suggestions
and opinions to improve the school activities.
Brineine Schools and Parents Together to Get Community
Organizations Support
No connection exists between schools and community organizations;
however, all the principals of distinguished schools want the community
organizations to be involved with school activities. DHGP said, We beg our
73


community organizations to help our school activities. They should help us, and
DBEBP added, I wish that we could have some organizations that are involved with
our activities, but they are not aware of their roles, and they say the Ministry will help
you. Another principal was not sure if they can ask the community organizations for
help. I would like to ask the community organizations to help the school, but I do
not know if this is legal or not, and I am not sure if these organizations will respond
to me, DUEGP said.
These principals believe that parents could help the school in getting
community organizations help through their personal communication and their
positions in the community. DBEBP mentioned that we had parents who used their
communication to help the school. However, some principals do not want to
embarrass parents or themselves. As DHBP said,
I do not embarrass them. Do you know why? Once, I had a PTA meeting, and
we were discussing what we could do to prepare for the ministers visit. A
father who has a failing son said that we support the school, and we provide
the school with what it wants, but our children do not pass! I pretended that I
did not hear anything because what he said was embarrassing.
Parents and School Success
These principals call for parents to be involved with school because they
believe that parents play an important role in their success. DBEBP believes that
parents played a role in making their schools successful. DMGP said, They worked
in planning and organizing for the school activities. DUEGP stated that parents
74


helped her school to be successful: They supported me financially, they gave me
their suggestions because they believe in the school vision, and they adapt the school
activities to develop the school and to improve students level of achievement."
DHGP added, The parents play a big role in my school success. At least they care
about their children. It means they take half the school responsibility from us.
The principals of distinguished schools believe that they can have more
success if parents work with them.
I want parents to follow their childrens progress. The family now is different
than before. The school is not the only educational institution any more. TV,
radio, peers, and sometimes their roles are stronger than the school. Now
even the restaurants compete with us. They sell children cassettes with their
meals! I cannot follow childrens progress out of the school unless the family
builds a room for me to transfer from one family to another to check on their
childrens education. (DHBP)
However, if parents cannot be involved with the school activities, they at least have to
take care of their children at home. DBEBP wants parents to watch their children
and take care of their behavior and their health. DUEGP said,
Parents should teach their children things that we do not teach them here such
as computers and give them extra activities that are different than what we
have. I want parents to encourage their children to love the school and
education. I want parents to be more affectionate with their children because
they need a warm relationship with their parents to produce and to be
successful.
On the other hand, some principals believe that their school succeeded
because the administration and teachers worked as a team to be successful. DUEGP
said, We-the administration, teachers, school guardians, students, and parents-work
75


like a team to achieve the school goals." Other principals added other elements to
their school success:
I have good students and good teachers. My administration is good too. I
have been managing this school for 14 years now, and I do not work with any
teacher till I like him and he works with me according to my principles. The
family plays an important role because the percentages of the students who
succeed does not come because of us but because of the family too. Also, I
have attractive programs to attract my students to the school. (DHBP)
DHGP confessed by saying, To be honest with you, maybe the main reason are the
teachers and the students, also the parents. Finally, DMGP said,
My school is successful because of the administration. The way we
deal with different people from parents to teachers, we work like a
team. Also because of the high-achieving students, we participate in
different competitions, and we got the first places in these
competitions.
The Principals of Regular Schools
Five principals from high, middle, and elementary schools were interviewed.
They included two high school principals, a male principal for a boys school (RHBP)
and a female principal for a girls school (RHGP). The middle school principal in this
group was the female principal for a girls school (RMGP). The two elementary
principals include one female principal for a basic elementary school for boys (first to
third grade), RBEBP, and one female or the upper elementary school for girls (fourth
to sixth grade), RUEGP. The following section explains their views of the six types
of parental involvement in the UAE schools.
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Parenting at Home
The percentage of the students who are well cared for in regular schools
differs from one school to another. For example, RHBP stated that all students are
taken care of, but the degree is different from one family to another: There is no
family that does not care about their children, but to what extent is different from one
family to another. Some parents care daily about their children; others once a month
ask what their children are doing. In the high school for girls, 60% of the students
are well cared for, RHGP said, and that number decreases to 10% who are well cared
for in the middle school for girls, RMGP reported. However, the number of students
who are cared for is highest in basic elementary school, at 90%," RBEBP stated, and
it is 70% in the upper elementary school, RUEGP asserted.
Being in the school is a sign of caring, according to RHGP: Most parents
care, and I can tell from parents who come to the school to ask about their children's
grades or any problem that their children may face in the classroom. RHBP and
RMGP agreed with RHGP that parents who visit the school and the level of the
students achievement are indicators of caring parents. RUEGP added other
indicators: the students appearance [if they are neat or not], their behavior, and their
health.
On the other hand, these principals disagree about the extent of their students
readiness to team. RHBP believes that all of his students are ready to leam because
77


every morning, they wake up and they come to the school which means they are
ready to leam. However, RHGP did not agree that coming to the school means that
students are ready to leam. Their readiness depends on what section the students are
in. For example, the science section is more motivated to leam than the art section;
She said, The students in the science section come prepared for their classes, and
they take their teachers seriously, but students of the art section do not care about
their subjects or their teachers instructions.
Teachers complaints are considered by some principals a sign of the students
readiness to leam. RMGP noted that more than 50% of our students have low
motivation to leam, and it is clear from teachers complaints and students levels of
achievement. Although RHBP agreed on these indicators, RBEBP stated that most
of her students come to the school ready to leam. She said, Every day, they come to
the school clean, and they have their bags. RUEGP indicated that from her visit to
the classes, Many of them react and work with their teachers.
These schools have many students who come to the school sick. Every day,
we take one student or more to the hospital, RUEGP mentioned. RMGP complained
that she has many students who come to the school sick:
I have many students who come to the school sick. A student came to me
telling me, My mother is too busy to take me to the hospital. Daily, we take
students to the hospital. I had a mother who came to me asking me where I
was when her daughter got sick! Where was she when her daughter left home
sick?
RHBP justified this by saying,
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Some parents send their children to the school sick because they want
the school to know what is going on with the student and to teach the
student to respect the school and the system regardless of the students
sickness.
These principals have many teachers who complain about students who do not
do their homework. RUEGP said, 80% of teachers complain," and it is 30% in the
high school for girls. But RBEBP does not suffer from a lot of teachers who
complain about students who do not do their homework. For her, It is a small
percentage." RMGP explained this difference in the percentage of the teachers who
complain about the homework by saying, It depends on the teachers. Some teachers
do not complain, and they would rather try to solve it in the classroom." RHBP
agreed on this, saying Not all of them complain because they try to solve it in the
classroom."
In these schools, parents do not help their children at home because they could
be illiterate, foreigners who do not speak Arabic well, busy with work, inattentive, or
busy with small children. As RBEBP complained, We have mothers who cannot
read or write, and mothers who do not speak Arabic well. RUEGP added, Some
parents are busy, they do not care; some parents are illiterate; and many have small
children at home."
Therefore, these principals invite parents to the school to tell them how they
should take care of their children, but not all of them show up, and most of those who
show up have good students in the school.
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The problem is that mothers who have good students come to the school, but
the mothers who have lower-achieving students do not come. If they come, it
will be once, and then we will not see their faces again because we tell them,
the levels of their daughters are weak. OK, come and put your hands on our
hands and let's overcome this! (RMGP)
In brief, the principals of high schools stated that it is hard to indicate the
percentage of students who are cared for, but it is around 60 percent in the middle
schools, and the percentage increases in the elementary school. Some principals
asserted that being in the schools means that students are ready to leam. Other
principals said that students' readiness depends on whether they enroll in science or
art section in the high schools. Further, it is hard to use teachers complaints as an
indicator of students readiness to leam because not all teachers complain as they
would rather solve problems with their students in the classrooms.
Communication Between School and Parents
All these principals invite parents to the school. RHGP said, We have an
open invitation for parents to come any day, and they can ask about their children any
time. They invite parents to the school by different means-letters, fax, and phone-
according to RHBP. Often, the school social worker communicates with parents, as
RUEGP stated. On the other hand, principals face some problems such as some
students who give wrong numbers to them or some students who do not give their
parents the letter. RMGP mentioned that Id send letters because some students do
80


not have phones or some students give wrong numbers. RHGP added, From my
experience, letters do not reach parents.
Principals try hard to reach parents, but the parents do not respond as the
principals would prefer because they are illiterate, inattentive, working, or caring for
small children at home. As RBEBP remarked, We have mothers who cannot read or
write, and mothers who do not speak Arabic well. Also, RUEGP said, Some
parents are busy, some are inattentive, some are illiterate, and some have small
children at home."
In sum, not all parents respond to the school communication because they are
busy with their work, or they have their own problems. RMGP said, They are busy
in their lives and their work, and some of them are indifferent. Others have low
morals and do not care about their childrens behavior. Also, some parents are
foreigners, and others have social problems. Further, some parents are not aware of
die importance of responding to the school communication. As the high school
principal for girls said, Their awareness-they are concerned more with their
business than what their daughters are doing in the school.
In contacting parents, some principals, such as RHBP and RUEGP, prefer the
phone, but some, such as RBEBP and RMGP, prefer meeting parents face to face.
The latter said, Meeting them face to face is the best way to communicate with
them. Additionally, these principals encourage their teachers to communicate with
81


parents through my meetings with teachers, as RHGP mentioned, or through the
school social worker and my talking to them directly, as RBEBP noted.
Involving Parents in Classroom and School Activities
The principals of regular schools encourage parents to visit the classroom
because the principals believe that parents involvement in the classroom is beneficial
for students and teachers. RUEGP said, It will motivate students to do their best.
However, it is rare that parents visit the classroom. I like the idea, but we do not
have parents who visit the classroom, as RHBP said. Another principal at the high
school for girls said, I encourage them if they are willing to visit and participate in
the classroom. These principals believe that parents could help teachers in different
ways. However, some see that at least visiting the classroom could help teachers: At
least by visiting the class, they can be involved by giving their experiences and their
values, as RUEGP asserted and RHBP echoed.
These principals expect teachers to like having parents in the classroom. I
think a lot of them will encourage this idea because I think it will encourage students
to study more and work with teachers more, as RHGP said. RUEGP added, Some
teachers will support the idea because it will save time and effort for them. Some will
reject it because they do not trust parents abilities to help them, aR they will worry
that parents will intrude on their work.
I
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However, the number of times parents visit the school differs from one school
to another. For example, RBEBP said, Usually three times a year for the PTA
meetings, and some parents visit the school more than that. RHGP said, Some
parents always are in the schools; others do not come at all. Some come just to ask
about their daughters scores. Therefore, RMGP said, They should visit the school
once a month or once in two weeks, but if we see them once or twice a year it is a
gift
These principals need parents desperately, but their involvement in the reality
is rare. I want them to be involved in everything, said RHGP, and RMGP said,
We do activities to attract them, but they do not attend. The principals of regular
schools suggested different ways to involve parents such as visiting, providing
financial support, planning, and organizing. RUEGP stated that Attending,
supplying financial support, bringing things from home, and planning and organizing
the school activities could help us, and RHBP said, I wish parents could give
lectures to students.
However, these principals find excuses for parents not to be involved in their
childrens education whether at home or at the school. For example, the way they
have been treated in the school is not favorable for most of them. Many teachers,
could be some of my teachers, when they meet parents start telling them how bad
their daughters are without a good introduction or even starting with good things.
Other teachers talk loudly with parents about their daughter which embarrasses
83


them, RHGP reasoned. Some parents are busy with their work or with their home,
according to RMGP. Other parents are not attracted to the school activities. Maybe
they do not like to participate because they think they are wasting their time without
benefit, RUEGP thought.
Overall, the principals of regular schools stated that it is rare to have parents
who visit their classrooms even though these principals would like to have parents
active in classrooms. Not only are parents not involved in classrooms, but also few
parents attend school activities.
Helpine Children with Learning at Home
Not many parents come to the school to find out how they could help their
children in their subjects or even their activities. RBEBP said, Not many. They care
to ask after the results of their childrens exams. These parents usually are well-
educated parents. As RHGP mentioned, It is rare to have parents who ask how they
can help their children at home, and most of who care are well educated. However,
RHBP said that he has many parents who care: 30 % of the parents come or call to
know how they can help their children.
Involving Parents in Decision Making
All these schools have PTAs, and the number of parents involved ranges from
six to thirteen. The main function for the PTA is giving suggestions to improve the
84


school activities and the school achievement. RBEBP commented that they do not
have a big influence on the school. They help in our activities by their suggestions.
However, RHGP complained that her PTA is negative. She said, My PTA is
useless. I have mothers who work and cannot participate and mothers who cannot
read or write.
These principals believe that the PTA is important; as RUEGP said, They
connect us to all parents. Even so, some principals wish that parents could be more
effective than they are. They should sit with us to set a strategic plan to serve
students and the school performance. We want their opinions to improve the school,
RMGP asserted. RHGP agreed on that by saying, We are supposed to involve them
in the school plans. Further, RHBP dreams that parents solve all the school
problems: I want them to solve all the school problems and have more hand in the
school.
All these principals attend the PTA meetings; however, some may not attend
all of the meetings, such as principals of elementary schools. Even so, they dream of
an effective PTA. I want them to have an effective role, to communicate with the
community to talk about our activities and projects, RUEGP said. The principal for
the high school for girls added, I want them to help me in improving the school in all
areas whether cultural, academic, or social. I want them to communicate with the
community to support the school.
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Full Text

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THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN PARENTAL INVOLVEMENT AND SCHOOL SUCCESS IN TilE UNITED ARAB EMIRATES by Shaikah AI-Taneiji B .A., United Arab Emirates University, 1993 i M.A., Oklahoma State University, 1998 ; I I A thesis submitted to the University of Colorado at Denver ir. partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy Educational Leadership and Innovation 2001

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This thesis for the Doctor of Philosophy degree by Shaikah AITaneiji has been approved Date

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DEDICATION I dedicate this thesis to Sheikh Zaid bin Sultan AI Nahayan, the president of the United Arab Emirates, who has encouraged the women's movement.

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ACKNOWLEDGEMffiNTS First and foremost, I thank God who gave me the strength, perseverance, and support I needed to make this endeavor possible. I also would like to thank my family members who supported, encouraged, and nurtured my ambition; without them, I would not have been able to stay on this path through the most difficult times. Sincere appreciation is given to my committee chair Rodney Muth, who provided me with motivation and opportunity to succeed in this endeavor. I greatly value the time and patience that he invested in my study. I also thank my committee members--Michael Martin, Michael Murphy, and Bob Palaich--for their suggestions to improve the study. Additionally, I express my appreciation to Marcia Muth for her support and time helping me edit dissertation. Further, I do not want to forget Steve Eslary for his generosity and support. Moreover, I would like to thank the principals, teachers, and parents who graciously consented to participate in this study. Furthermore, I thank the United Arab Emirates Embassy, Culture Division, for facilitating my residence in the United States and providing me with the support that I needed to succeed in my study. I also would like to acknowledge the Teaching Assistance Office in the United Arab Emirates

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University for its support and encouragement. Last but not least, I thank everyone who believed in me.

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AI-Taneiji, Shaikah (Ph.D., Educational Leadership and Innovation) The Relationship between Parental Involvement and School Success in the United Arab Emirates Thesis directed by Professor Rodney Muth ABSTRACT This study examined types of parental involvement in UAE schools and detennined whether parental involvement contributes to the success of .. distinguished schools." In order to answer the study's questions, interviews were conducted with principals, teachers, and parents from distinguished schools and regular schools in Dubia, Sharjah, and Ras al-khyamah. The distinguished schools had received the Hamadan Award for Distinguished Academic Performance. In order to make comparisons, regular schools were selected from similar locations, levels, and genders as the distinguished schools. The sample for the study included 70 subjects--I 0 principals, 30 teachers, and 30 parents. The subjects came from 10 schools: two high schools for girls and two for boys and two middle schools for girls in Dubai, two upper-elementary schools for girls from Sharjah, and two basic-elementary schools for boys from Ras alkhyamah. Five of the schools were distinguished and five were regular schools. I found that the most of the parents practice the first type of parental involvement, parenting at home. The schools communicate with parents, but few parents respond to them. Only a few parents help their children with learning at home, mostly because parents' level of education does not help them work with their children. Additionally, as children get older parents prefer that their children be independent. Further, parents attend school activities, depending on the occasion. If the activity is a celebration, attendance might be high, but if it is a lecture, only a few parents might attend. Parents generally are not involved in decision-making in their schools, and they tend not to help schools gain support from community organizations. Finally, I found that parental involvement is similar among distinguished and regular schools. The consistently low level of parental involvement forces schools to depend on themselves to be distinguished and successful. vi

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This abstract accurately represents the content of the candidate's thesis. I recommend its publication. RodneyMuth VII

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CONTENTS Figures ........................................................................................ xiv Tables ......................................................................................... xv CHAPTER 1. INTRODUCTION .......................................................................................... 1 Statement of the Problem ........................................................................ 3 Research Questions ................................................................................. 5 Theoretical FraDlework ........................................................................... 5 Limitations .............................................................................................. 8 Significance ............................................................................................. 8 Organization of the Study ........................................................................ 9 2. LITERATURE REVIEW ............................................................................. 1 0 The Ministry of Education and Youth ................................................ .11 Before 1971 .......................................................................................... 12 After 1971 ........................................................................................... 13 Foreign Influences ............................................................................... 14 UAE and Values .................................................................................. 15 Summary ............................................................................................. 16 Successful Schools ............................................................................... 17 Successful School Definition ...................................................... 19 viii

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Studies in Successful Schools ..................................................... 21 Summary ............................................................................................... 23 Parental Involvement and Successful Schools ...................................... 24 The Benefits of Parental Involvement in Schools ................................. 27 Barriers to Parental Involvement ......................................................... .30 Leadership and Parental Involvement ................................................... 32 Parental Involvement Types .................................................................. 34 Parenting at Home ....................................................................... 34 Helping with Homework ............................................................. 36 Communication between School and Parents ............................. 38 Parents' Involvement in Children's Activities ............................ 39 Parents as Decision Makers ........................................................ 39 The Influence of Demographic Factors in Parental Involvement in Schools ......................................................................... 40 Summary ............................................................................................... 42 3. METHODOLOGY ....................................................................................... 44 Subjects ................................................................................................. 46 Instnunent. ............................................................................................. 48 Section One ................................................................................. 49 Section Two ................................................................................ 50 Section Three ......................... .................................................... 50 Validity and Reliability ............................................................... Sl Procedures ............................................................................................. 51 IX

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Analyses ................................................................................................ 54 4. THE PRINCIPALS' STORY ....................................................................... 61 The Principals of Distinguished Schools ............................................... 62 Parenting at Home ....................................................................... 62 Communication Between the School and Parents ...................... 65 Involving Parents in Classrooms and School Activities ............. 67 Helping Children with Learning at Home .................................. 71 Involving Parents in Decision Making ....................................... 71 Bringing Schools and Parents Together to Get Community Organizations' Support ............................................................... 73 Parents and School Success ........................................................ 74 The Principals of Regular Schools ........................................................ 76 Parenting at Home ....................................................................... 77 Communication Between School and Parents ............................ 80 Involving Parents in Classroom and School Activities ............... 82 Helping Children with Learning at Home .................................. 84 Involving Parents in Decision Making ....................................... 84 Bringing School and Parents Together to Get Community Organizations' Support ............................................................... 86 Parents and School Success ........................................................ 87 Summary ............................................................................................... 87 5. THE TEACHERS' STOR .......................................................................... 89 The Teachers of Distinguished Schools ................................................ 89 X

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Parenting at Home ....................................................................... 90 Communication Between School and Parents ............................ 91 Involving Parents in Classroom and School Activities ............... 94 Helping Children with Learning at Home .................................. 98 Involving Parents in Decision Making ....................................... 99 Bringing Schools and Parents Together to Get Community Organizations' Support ............................................................. 1 01 The Teachers of Regular Schools ........................................................ 104 Parenting at Home ..................................................................... 1 OS Communication Between School and Parents .......................... 1 06 Involving Parents in Classroom and School Activities ............. 110 Helping Children with Learning at Home ................................ 114 Involving Parents in Decision Making ..................................... 115 Bringing Schools and Parents Together to Get Community Organizations' Support ............................................................. 119 Summary ............................................................................................. 121 6. THE PARENTS' STORY ........................................................................... 123 The Parents of Distinguished Schools ................................................. 123 Parenting at Home ..................................................................... 123 Communication Between School and Parents .......................... 127 Involving Parents in Classroom and School Activities ............. 129 Helping Children with Learning at Home ................................ 132 Involving Parents in Decision Making ..................................... 134 Xl

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Bringing Schools and Parents Together to Get Community Organizations' Support ............................................................. 135 The Parents of Regular Schools .......................................................... 135 Parenting at Home ..................................................................... 135 Communication Between School and Parents .......................... 138 Involving Parents in Classroom and School Activities ............. 141 Helping Children with Learning at Home ............................... .145 Involving Parents in Decision Making ..................................... 145 Bringing Schools and Parents Together to Get Community Organizations Support ............................................................. 14 7 Summary ............................................................................................. 148 7. PARENTAL INVOLVMENT IN DISTINGUISHED AND REGULAR SCHOOLS ................................................................................................. 149 Parenting at Home ............................................................................... 149 Communication Between School and Parents ..................................... 150 Involving Parents in Classroom and School Activities ....................... 151 Helping Children with Learning at Home ........................................... 1 53 Involving Parents in Decision Making ................................................ 1 SS Bringing Schools and Parents Together to Get Community Organizations' Support ........................................................................ 155 Summary ............................................................................................. 159 8. PARENTAL INVOLVMENT IN UAE SCHOOLS .................................. 161 Parental Involvment ............................................................................ 162 Conclusion ........................................................................................... 166 xii

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Building Parental Involvement ............................................................ 166 Needed Research ................................................................................. 170 A Final Word ....................................................................................... 170 APPENDIX A. PRINCIPALS' INTERVIEW ....................................................... 172 B. TEACHERS' INTERVIW ............................................................ 176 C. PARENTS' INTERVIEW ............................................................ 179 D. CONSENT FORM FOR PRINICPALS ....................................... 183 E. CONSENT FORM FOR TEACHERS ......................................... 185 F. CONSENT FORM FOR PARENTS ............................................ 187 G. PARENTS' LEETTER ................................................................. l89 REFERENCES ................................................................................................. 191 Xlll

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FIGURES Figure 8.1 Parental Involvement Types in the UAE's Schools ............ ..... ..................... .l63 7 .I Parenting at Home in Distinguished and Regular Schools ............................ 1 50 7.2 Communication between Schools and Parents in Distinguished and Regular Schools ...................................................................................... 1 52 7.3 Involving Parents in the Classes and School Activities in Distinguished and Regular Schools ...................................................................................... 1 53 7.4 Helping Children with Learning at Home in Distinguished and Regular Schools ...................................................................................... 1 54 7.5 Involving Parents in Making Decisions in Distinguished and Regular Schools ...................................................................................... 156 7.6 Bringing Schools and Parents Together to Get Community Organizations' Support in Distinguished and Regular Schools ..................... l 56 XIV

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TABLES Table 2.1 The Distribution ofUAE Schools Based on the Emirates and the Gender ..... 14 3.1 Distinguished Schools' Participants based on School Level and Gender ...... 47 3.2 Regular Schools' Participants based on School Level and Gender .................. 47 3.3 The Participants' Codes ................................................................................................ 55 3.4 What Do you Do to Prepare Your Child For the School? ................................... 58 7.1 Parental Involvement in Distinguished Schools .................................................. 150 7.2 Parental Involvement in Regular School... ............................................................. 152 XV

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CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION The modem education system in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) was started thirty years ago. Education is the backbone for producing skillful students who are capable of adopting new technology as well as keeping their traditional identities as Muslims and Arabs. It is commonly known that the only way to improve the productivity of society is by improving the skills of the labor force and raising the educational attainment of its citizens. (Abdullah, 1999, p. 285) However, UAE citizens are becoming more dependent on others to serve them as consumers of western production, instead of working hard to be producers (Loaloa, & Khalifa, 1996). Most of the people who work in the educational field in UAE are from other Arab countries and have less economic status than UAE citizens. As a result, UAE natives see teachers as servants to their children, not as teachers of their children, which makes the relationship between parents and schools weak and unproductive (Daa'ir, 1990). Without collaboration between schools and parents, the results of education will not be as effective as it could be (Epstein, 1996; Rosenthal & Sawyers, 1996). In fact, many studies confirm that parental involvement plays an important role in having successful schools with outstanding student achievement (Hara & Burke, 1998; Reilly, 1995). The government provides every UAE citizen with a job, and most youth can 1

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find a job without high qualifications. This tempts many students to drop out of school and look for a job to make a quick profit (Daa'ir, 1990). In addition, as time has passed a lot of things have changed: a typical UAE citizen's income no longer covers the full expenses that people have, and the country cannot depend on oil forever. Higher-level jobs require more quaiifications than just knowing how to read and to write. Finishing high school is the main door to open many opportunities for those who want to have the skills and education to move them to a good job and a status that has more money. Besides, the government has realized that depending heavily on outsiders threatens the country's stability (Abdullah, 1999). So, school is the first place that the government has to concentrate on to produce skillful youth who are capable of running the country. The government has realized the necessity of educating UAE citizens and has made education compulsory in the elementary grades. However, the school by itself cannot do the whole job, and parents need to cooperate with educators especially since studies confirm that parental involvement has a positive influence on the students' achievement in the schools (Catsambis & Garland, 1997; Parker, Boak, & Criffin, 1999). Meanwhile, many parents think that they are not capable of helping their children with their schoolwork (Anderson & Smith, 1999), and this is logical because most of the parents themselves are not well educated in the UAE. Therefore, this study examines whether parents' involvement in the UAE schools makes any difference in schools' success. Since no study in the United Arab 2

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Emirates has examined the relationship between parents and schools, I depend mostly on American educational literature, which has a long history of examining parental involvement in schools, to fonnulate my research questions and carry out the study. Statement of the Problem The social system in the United Arab Emirates is changing from its basis in Bedouin and Islamic traditions and is responding to modernization because most of the county's people have become wealthy. People are busy with their new, modem living, doing business and traveling. Television is available in every home and, instead of sitting on the floor to have dinner or lunch, people are sitting on chairs watching television while they are eating, which impedes their socialization with each other (Al-Qasimi, 1999; Loatoa, & Khalifa, 1996). Almost every home has one maid or more to serve, clean, and raise the children. The relationship between parents and their cru ldren is changing. Parents have less time for their children than they did in the past because they are busy with their business and pursuit of materialistic values. Also, Western values and technology can distract children. The nature of the parents' authority over their children has changed from what it was, and it is no longer based on respect, obedience, and closeness (Daa'ir, 1990). Further, the nature of the relationship between teachers and their students has been changing in similar ways. Most of the students come to the secondary schools 3

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with their own cars. UAE students often see teachers as servants and are usually wealthier than the teachers who come from different Arab countries and have less social status. Teachers no longer receive the respect that they were previously accorded, even though Arabic values state that "he who has taught me a craft has enslaved me" (Daa 'ir, 1990, p. 35). These changes in the relationships between parents and children and between children and their teachers make it hard to educate and discipline students. Even if administrators try to discipline students, parents often ignore the school authority and complain to the Ministry of Education and Youth. Today, children generally face increased challenges: "lack of safety, lack of discipline, increased pressure, moral decline, increased crime, drugs, environmental problems, and family breakdown" (Scott, 2000, p. 374). These challenges threaten the school's job in educating students because these challenges could keep students from learning. However, as studies have confinned active parental involvement, whether at home or at school, helps schools to achieve their goals (Ballantine, 1999; Epstein, 1996). Given this, I decided to explore the difference between five distinguished schools, which received the Hamdan Award, and five regular schools, which did not get the award. These schools were selected to represent the similar places, genders, and levels. This study examines the types of parental involvement in the UAE schools and determines whether parental involvement contributed to the success of the distinguished schools. 4

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Research Questions The study seeks to answer these questions: l. What types of parental involvement are present in UAE schools? 2. Is parental involvement related to successful schools in UAE? In the following sections, I discuss the theoretical framework, limitations, significance, and organization of the study. Theoretical Framework To coMect parents with schools, Moore (1990) discusses models that achieve effective partnerships between parents and schools. He asserts that one model is that in which parents could be policy makers. In this model, parents are empowered to make decisions about the school policies, budget, and curriculum. Administtators should ignore the normal tension between parents and teachers who view parents as not having expertise. A second model is one in which parents are involved as volunteers in classroom activities and school events. In a third model, parents facilitate their children's education. Here, schools enrich parents with information and skills to deal with their children by inviting speakers for parents or holding conferences with parents in the school. Further, Moore discussed ways of bringing more parents to schools such as creating a space for parents to meet, training teachers, treating parents equally, and providing different services to parents and the s

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community such as "health care, childcare, drug prevention, and parent support group" (Moore, 1990, p. 16). Later, Epstein ( 1995) presented a comprehensive model to get parents involved in their children's education. She suggested a program that involves six types of parental involvement. These types of parental involvement start with parenting at home: taking care of the health, safety, and discipline of the children and making sure that the child attends school consistently. The second type is the obligation of the school toward the parents where the school communicates with parents, sends them memos and flyers, and calls on them to be visible in the school. The third type occurs when parents are involved with their children's education and help them in reading, in their homework, or in any activity that is required. The fourth type is parents being involved in the school, helping teachers in the classroom and participating in the school activities. The fifth type occurs when parents are active in the school governance by being a part of the Parent Teacher Association (PTA) or any organization that works for interest of the school and students. The sixth type is getting parents and the school to collaborate with the community organizations and get their support. Epstein (1995) agrees with Moore (1990) that the following types of parental involvement are essential: helping children at home, whether facilitating their education by taking care of their health and the home atmosphere or by helping their children with their reading and their homework; participating in the classroom and 6

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school activities; and being policy makers through involvement with the PTA or any organization that represents their voices in their children's education. However, Epstein (1995) offers more types of parental involvement in schools. She addresses the communication between school and parents and school-parent collaboration to get support from the community organizations. Based on Epstein's (1995) and Moore's (1990) models for parental involvement in schools, I delineate my research questions around six types of parental involvement: (a) parenting at home by taking care of children's health, their discipline, and their school attendance; (b) communicating between school and parents; (c) involving parents in classes and school activities; (d) helping children with their learning at home; (e) involving parents in making decisions in schools through the PTA or any organization that represents them; and (t) bringing schools and parents together to get the support of community organizations. If distinguished schools tend to have most of these types of parental involvement, and regular do not, then it might be possible to conclude that parental involvement plays a significant role in school success. 7

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Limitations The results of the study are limited to the United Arab Emirates' schools and, perhaps, only to the 10 schools examined. Significance The study compares five distinguished schools with five regular schools to determine whether parents play a significant role in school achievement. The results of this study maybe useful to principals, teachers, parents, policymakers, and researchers. This study might help principals and teachers recognize parents' roles in their children's education. It suggests to the principals, for example, the potential of clear objectives to involve parents and specific activities to achieve them. It may also encourage teachers to work with parents and present suggestions to teachers about how to communicate better with parents. As a result of this study, parents may better know whether their roles are important in their children's education, and they could learn abcut the school staffs perceptions about their involvement. Further, the results of the study are available to policymakers, particularly the Ministry of Education and Youth. The relationship between schools and parents may require written policies to regulate and encourage effective participation between them, which schools in the United Arab Emirates do 8

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not have. The study may provide an opportunity for policymakers to take advantage of the suggestions offered to develop policies. Last but not least, this study is available for researchers and the public who wish to build and act based on its results. Organization of the Study Chapter one has introduced the study, and Chapter two gives infonnation about the United Arab Emirates, the current situation in UAE schools, and focuses on parental involvement, school success, and the role of school leadership in both. The literature review mainly comes from the United States since little research is available in the UAE. Chapter three presents the methodology that was be used to gather data for the study. Chapters four through seven present the results of the study and chapter eight offers conclusions and recommendations about what might be done to improve parental involvement in schools and communication between schools and parents. Suggestions for future studies also are presented in eight. 9

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CHAPTER TWO LITERATURE REVIEW The geographic, demographic, political, economic, and social background of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is critical to understanding the challenges faced by the UAE society and its schools. The United Arab Emirates is in Asia, on the Arabian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman. The UAE is a federation of seven Emirates: Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Dubai, Fujairah, Ras ai-Khaimah, Sharjah, and Umm al-Qaiwain. The capital of the United Arab Emirates is Abu Dhabi, which gained independent. e in December 1971 after being a British colony (Al-Qasimi, 1999). All of the Emirates are located on the north side of the Arabian Gulf, except Fujairah which is located on the Gulf of Oman. The U AE with its islands and disputed borders is 32.278 square miles; Abu Dhabi has 86. 67 %of the area, Dubia has 5%, Sharjah has 3.33%, Ras ai-Khaimah has 2. 17 %, Umm ai-Qaiwain has 1%, Ajman has 0.33 %, and finally Fujairah has 1. S. Most of the UAE is desert, mainly in the west and inner part. The eastern section is mostly mountains. The UAE is known for its high humidity and hot temperatures. In summer, the temperature reaches 100.4 Fahrenheit. However, November and March are the best months when the temperature falls between 78 to 59 Fahrenheit (Al-Qasimi, 1999). The UAE population was 2, 398,000 in 2001 (''The Population," 2001). Most 10

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people of the UAE are Muslim. Three quarters ofUAE's population is non-native. Arabic is the official language, but Farsi and English are used widely. The government of the UAE depends mostly on oil, which makes the country rich and has enabled it to develop in every arena in a short time (Abdullah, 1999). The federal government runs the country; however, every emirate has rulers who run local affairs. The federal government, nevertheless, has the right to question local decisions. The highest authorities in the country are the president, who has the final word in any law, the Supreme Council, consisting of the seven local rulers, and the Cabinet of Ministers. Usually, the Cabinet of Ministers proposes the laws and sends them to the Federal National Council for consideration, and these proposals become laws when the Supreme Council approves them. Each ministry is responsible for managing its own affairs, and the authority for education is centered in the Ministry of Education and Youth. The Ministty of Education and Youth The Ministry of Education and Youth is responsible for planning and improving the educational system for all the Emirates. It provides the schools with teachers and the necessary resources for the separate boys and girls schools to achieve desired goals. The schools have nothing to do with making policies; all decisions are made centrally. The main job for the schools is to implement the Ministry of Education and Youth's rules and to push students to memorize the textbooks for final 11

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i I I II exams. Lecture is the traditional method for teaching students. Teaching is oriented toward examinations. Subjects are taught following a structured timetable, and students carry that to their homes. The curriculum is the same throughout all of the Emirates (Daa'ir, 1990) and is based on Islamic and Arabic values but oriented to new ideas and technology, which differ from those before 1971. Before 1971 Education in the UAE before 1971 was simple. The UAE was under colony agreement with the British, and this served to limit the area's development, especially in education, because of the British policy of non-involvement (Daa'ir, 1990). Thus, the first educational development came not from the British but from the rich pearl merchants who had funded the schools in the early 1900s. In these early schools, "AI-mutawa," the Arabic name for teacher, taught the Qur'an Karum, basic Arabic, and math beginning in 1902. In 1911, religious schools were opened in some cities such as Sharjah and Dubai to teach religion and language. Three traditional schools were established in Abu Dhabi. Ras Al-Khamiah and Ajman had just one school each, whereas no formal education was available in Umm Al-Quwain and Fujairah. So, few people benefited from this kind of education, and most people were illiterate (Al-Banna, 1990). In 1953, the modem educational process started when At Qusmiah School was opened in Sharjah; it received Arabic aid, especially from Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, 12

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Egypt, Qatar, and Bahrain, and gradually schools started to multiply out. Female education started in 1953 in the Alzahra primary school. In 1955, modem education reached the secondary level. Technical, commercial, and agricultural education started in the late 1950s (Daa'ir, 1990). After 1971 After the UAE was created in 1971, the number of schools started to increase, especially after the Ministry of Education was established. The UAE educational system started with 73 schools with only 32,800 students in 1971. By 2000-2001, the country had 728 public schools :.ith 326, 554 students (Ministry of Education and Youth, 2001) and 400 private schools with more than 203,000 students ("UAE Gives Priority to Education," 1999). According to the Ministry of Education (2001), the number of teachers and administrative staff for 2000-2001 was 27,512. In 2000-2001, the percent ofUAE native students in public schools according to their stages in school are as follows: kindergarten, 94%; primary stage, 65.8%; preparatory level, 67%; secondary level, 64.5 %; and technical, 94 %. The following table shows the distribution of schools through out the UAE according to the Ministry of Education statistics for 2000-2001. The UAE's illiteracy rate dropped dramatically from 45.8 percent for males in 1975 to 18.4 percent in 1995 and from 69.1 percent for females in 1975 to 12.1 percent in 13

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1995. This was due primarily to literacy classes at adult education centers (AI Abed & Vine, 1999). Table 2.1 The Distribution ofUAE Schools Based on the Emirate and the Gender Emirate School Gender Total Male Female Mixed Abu Dhabi 140 133 31 304 Dubai 38 36 14 88 Sharjah 53 51 17 121 Ajamn 18 17 6 41 Urnmal-Qaiwain 13 10 4 27 Fujairah 20 21 10 51 Ras al-Khaimah 40 40 16 96 Total 322 308 98 728 Foreign Influences The country started to build its basic instruction through foreign expertise because it did not have skilled local people who were able to work in developing the country. Foreign workers currently represent 93 percent of all workers in the UAE (Abudalah, 1999). Although the country benefits from the expertise foreigners, they bring new social problems to the country. Foreigners use their language, even with Arabic people. They bring their culture that differs from the host culture. For instance, alcohol is allowed in most of the Emirates, which contradicts the traditional society's values (Al-Banna, 1990). Moreover, in a report for Reuters, Aboudi (1998) 14

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confessed that foreigners have contributed to increased crime rates in areas such as drugs, prostitution, and pornography. Further, these foreigners come from different countries, such as those in Asia, as well as other Arabic countries. Some of them are from poor countries, and others are from more developed countries. This variety of background creates conflict among these foreigners over their values and their traditions which is reflected in the quality of their work. As a result, UAE locals do not feel satisfied with the foreigners' work, and the foreigners do not feel accountable to the UAE country. All these changes threaten the UAE's identity and traditional values (Abdullah, 1999). UAE and Values The UAE society holds Bedouin and Islamic values (Daa'ir, 1990). Traditionally, most women stayed at home to manage their households while men were responsible for working outside the home; however, these features have changed since modem life started in 1971. Both men and women now participate in the workforce. All people are working hard to have a better life. The mosque is the most influential place in the people's life because it is the center oflslamic life. However, modem technology, which came with the discovery of oil, opened society to many changes. As a result of having many people who are illiterate and dependent on foreign expertise to run the country, the traditional Bedouin and Islamic values are threatened 15

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(Daa'ir, 1990). The Ministry of Education and Youth released a policy document outlining a strategy for educational development in the UAE up to the year 2020 based on several five-year plans. One of the new policy goals is to introduce technology for all levels with a computer for every 10 students in kindergarten, every five students at primary school, every two students at preparatory school, and every student at secondary school (Ministry of Education and Youth, 2000). However, this educational policy will not be effective without collaboration between the Ministry of Education and Youth and the community, especially parents whose support could make the change possible (Dodd, 1996). Summary The UAE has achieved considerable progress in a short time; nevertheless, it confronts many economic and social challenges in educating its the people by its own people. Bringing in many foreign people to run the country may threaten the country's stability. Development in the country is based on oil income, which frequently changes based on the world oil market. And, oil is not guaranteed to last forever (Abdullah, 1999). To have a well-educated people, the Ministry of Education and Youth is working to strengthen the relationship between schools and parents because The family plays a crucial role in children's development--because of the importance of early learning, because learning is cumulative, because children spend so much time at home-it seems reasonable to suggest that when 16

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children are likely to experience difficulties in school, the provision of assistance to families could be useful. (Kellaghan, Sloane, Alvarez, & Bloom, 1993, p. 15} Successful Schools Considering the fact that no study in the United Arab Emirates focuses on parental involvement in schools, most of my review of research is from American literature. However, because of culture differences, the research in the U.S. may or may not focus on issues that adequately reflect what happens in the UAE. Regardless, it is important to note that "parents everywhere care about their children, and are important for their children's success in school" (Epstein & Sanden, 1998, p. 392}. Having successful schools for children of all ages and all types is the longing of every educator and everyone who wants children to live in a healthy, safe, and functional learning environment. Various studies have been conducted to fmd the essential keys that successful schools share (Becker, 1992; Bliss, Firestone, & Richards, 1991; Oakes & Lipton, 1990; Purkey & Smith, 1983; Reilly, 1995}. After reviewing the literature, Purkey and Smith (1983} distinguished a successful school by its culture that consists of "a structure, process, and climate of values and norms that emphasize successful teaching and learning" (p. 442}. They asserted that the facton that influence school effectiveness include organizational and structural variables such as school-site management, instructionalleadenhip, staff 17

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stability, curriculum articulation and organization, school wide staff development, parental involvement, school wide recognition of academic success, maximized learning time, and district support. The factors also include process variables encompassing collaborative planning and collegial relationships, sense of community, clear goals and high expectations, and order and discipline, which facilitate learning operation (Purkey & Smith). In 1990, Oakes and Lipton outlined the essential elements for parents and policymakers to make schools the best place for children. They stated that the essential factors for effectiveness are the culture of the school (facilitating the opportunity to learn and offering outstanding classes such as art, music, or even math), certified teachers, accessible materials and equipment, structured time for learning and activities, a rich curriculum related to society's needs and its values, additional help for students during the regular classes, parental involvement, high expectations, regular communication with parents about student progress, strong authority that stresses teacher professionalism, and regulation. They also asserted the importance of believing all students can learn, not labeling students based on intelligence and ability because it segregates them, using assessments that measure learning and thinking processes, and having policy makers who can work to achieve quality and equity in schools. Moreover, Bliss, Firestone, and Richards (1991) emphasized that instruction in basic skills, leadership style, academic expectations, regulation, and school climate 18

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make the difference in schools, while Becker ( 1992) narrowed that list to leadership, school atmosphere, high expectations, instructional force, educational evaluation, and community involvement. Reilly (1995) identified several characteristics of successful schools: parents and teachers who share school governance; a safe place for students, teachers, and parents; a clear school mission; teachers with the knowledge and skills to achieve their goals; equality as the main principle for the school; adequate resources; and teaching appropriate values and behavior. Successful School Definition The definition of a successful school should include "qualitative variables (i.e., school climate, instructional leadership, high expectations, etc.) as well as quantitative variables (public achievement scores)" (Frederick, 1987, p. S). Based on what has been discussed in the literature, a successful school is a school that has high test results supported by a clear school mission, a strong leader who exemplifies the community norms and values, collegial relationship among teachers, available equipment, a rich curriculum and extra-curricular activities that represent the mission of the school, high expectations for students from the principal and teachers, and finally, a supportive community, especially parents. In the United Arab Emirate, the Ministry of Education and Youth does not have specific standards to judge whether a school is successful. The supervisors from each educational district have standards to judge whether the school is successful, in 19

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the fonn of private reports. However, in 1998, Ramadan Bin Rashid AI Maktoum Award for Distinguished Academic Perfonnance was established to reward distinguished schools, distinguished teachers, distinguished supervisors, distinguished students, distinguished families, distinguished projects, and distinguished educational districts from all over the U AE. A principal who thinks that his or her school meets Ramadan Bin Rashid AI Maktoum Award for Distinguished Academic Perfonnance criteria nominates the school for the award. Then, a neutral committee comes to the school to determine whether the school deserves the award. The standards, the criteria, for distinguished schools are the following: 1. The school has a vision. 2. The school has strategic plan to achieve the school vision. 3. The school encourages student creativity and discovery. 4. The school has high results in school tests. S. The school has training programs to improve teachers' level ofperfonnance. 6. The school has projects to improve the level of the school achievement. 7. The school involves community organizations to help the school in implementing its programs and activities. 8. The school is involved in different competitions, and it wins prizes (Ramadan Bin Rashid AI Maktoum Award for Distinguished Academic Perfonnance, 2000). 20

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Considering that no criteria exist in the UAE Ministry of Education and Youth to define successful schools, this study identified successful schools using the Hamadan Bin Rashid AI Maktoum Award for Distinguished Academic Performance standards and the ministry's designation of such schools. Studies in Successful Schools Many studies have used surveys as a tool to answer their studies' questions about successful schools, including Uline, Miller, and Moran (1998) and Hopkins ( 1999). However, using interviews, observations, and case studies also should be considered in order to get detailed information (Frederick, 1987; Guzzetti, 1983). Uline, Miller, and Moran (1998) developed a model to examine school effectiveness that consists of instrumental activities including reading, math, and writing and expressive activities including teacher trust in colleagues, teacher trust in the principal, and school health. The researchers examined 86 middle schools using the Organizational Health Inventory for Middle Schools (OH 1-RM) for school climate. The study found that "effectiveness correlates highly with both instrumental and expressive functions" (p. 477) which means that student achievement, faculty trust, and school health predict a school's effectiveness. Moreover, Hopkins (1999) investigated seven elementary schools and one middle school in Texas to find out what lay behind their outstanding achievement during 1996-1997 on the Texas Assessment of Academic Skills test. He used a 21

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survey to evaluate instructional environment, instructional processes, administration processes, and communication processes. He found that high quality teaching, high expectations, monitoring standards, rewarding results, resources that facilitate the teaching process, a cooperative work environment, and effective communication with parents are what made these schools outstanding. On the other hand, observation was used in a New Jersey State Department of Education study, which was conducted in 1982. This study examined nine public schools in eight urban areas, including eight elementary schools and one high school, which had high levels of student achievement in basic skills. The study used an outsider observer to describe the general school environment and examined the elements that could be related each school's success. The observer found that the principal's leadership style and his relations with teachers and students, teacher characteristics, teaching methods, support, extracurricular activities, and parental and community involvement were the elements that distinguished these schools for their high achievement. Bearden, Bembry, and Babu (1995) combined qualitative and quantitative methods by comparing 26 effective and 26 ineffective public elementary schools in urban Dallas schools to examine the success factors behind effective schools. At the effective schools, 1,860 teachers were surveyed, while 1,629 teachers in ineffective schools were surveyed. Also, the researchers observed and interviewed all principals and observed classrooms and examined school climate. 22

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The study found that the difference between effective and ineffective schools is clear. Teachers in effective schools participate more in decision making and work more collaboratively than teachers in ineffective schools do. Principals and teachers in effective schools are willing to solve problems and learn new skills while principals and teachers in ineffective schools look for reasons for failure. The principals in effective schools are models for their teachers and their students, and these principals work to build positive learning environments. Students in effective schools are more organized in their activities, while most of the ineffective schools had chaos in their activities. Effective schools have high numbers of good teachers who have high expectations for their students and hold their students responsible for their learning. Also, effective schools' teachers accept a new curriculum with enthusiasm, and they work to engage students in learning. Most of all, effective schools were more involved with their communities (Bearden, Bembry, & Babu, 1995). Summary Examining what has been written about the characteristics of successful schools, community involvement, especially parental involvement, has been mentioned frequently as an influential element in having successful schools. However, the parents' role is largely absent from UAE schools, so it may be that parental involvement contributes to the success of distinguished schools, as the U.S. 23

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literature on successful schools suggests. The circumstances in UAE schools are different from the circumstances in U.S schools, and the purpose of this study is to examine whether parental involvement is associated with success in UAE schools. Parental Involvement and Successful Schools According to the U.S. literature, parental involvement in schools is necessary to integrate efforts at home and efforts at school for student achievement. Their influence works in a reciprocal way. Students come to school with their values, beliefs, and even home problems that could disturb their learning. Further, these students bring home their experience, knowledge, and even new values that could help or interfere with their social growth. If parents and schools do not collaborate with each other, efforts of neither party are assured of producing long-term influences (Epstein, 1995). In fact, when Griffith (1996) surveyed 41 elementary schools to explore what affects students' academic performance, he found that parental involvement in education had a positive relationship with students' academic perfonnance. He defined parental involvement as involving parents in school activities, attending parent-teacher association conferences and school activities such as open house and back to school. On the other hand, school characteristics such as school size, classroom size, and student-teacher ratio had a weak relationship with students' test results (Griffith). 24

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The U.S. government has recognized the indispensability of having parents collaborating with schools to refonn their education system. Clark (1995) summarized parental involvement's history in U.S. schools from the 1890s, the parents' rights movement, to an international conference about parent involvement held in Oakland, California, in October 1994. In 1965, programs were launched such as Head Start and Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act which required schools to fund parental involvement programs. In 1970, the National PTA was founded which proposed projects to involve parents in schools such as the Big City project in urban schools in 1985. They also passed recommendations on parent's rights and responsibilities in 1991. In 1994, America's School Act was passed, and one of its goals was to have more parental involvement in schools by 2000 (Clark, 1995). Not just government in the U.S. recognizes the significant role of parents in schools. In Ireland, parents are involved with schools through National Parents Council and in Canada through Parenting Advisory Committee. In England and Wales, parents are involved with school governors and in Australia in school councils (Middlewood, 1999). Further, in 1975 in the United Arab Emirates the Ministry of Education recognized the essential role of parents in schools and passed a law to fonn a PTA for each school. However, after examining the field and realizing that the PTA did not achieve the desirable goals to connect the school and the community, another law was 25

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issued in 1981 to create a national PTA, a district PTA, a PTA for each class in the school, and a PTA for the school to connect educators and the community effectively (Fwaz, 1982). Late in 1996, the Ministry of Education made some changes and released another law (3857} to reconfigure the national PTA, district PTAs, and school PT As. The new law did not include a PTA for each class (Ministry of Education, 1996}. Parental involvement in schools is a term that has been mentioned in many studies; some researchers have defined parental involvement, while some assume that the meaning of the term is common knowledge. Philipsen (1996} for example, found that parents differ in their interpretations of school participation ranging from inactive support to actual participation in the schools' activities to participating in decision making. Wanat (1997} examined how parents defined parental involvement, and she found that parents did not distinguish between involvement at school or at home; however, parents did know the importance of being involved in their children's learning. Moreover, parents involved in schools can be permissive (not visible in their children's activities}, authoritarian (controlling their children to the extent that they do an activity for their children), or authoritative (encouraging their children to be independent under their guidance and support} (Fabros, 1999). Epstein (1995} developed a comprehensive definition for parental involvement in schools when she proposed a model for involving parents in schools. Based on Epstein's model, parental involvement starts, first, with parenting at home: 26

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taking care of the health, safety, and discipline of the children and making sure that each child is consistently at school. The second type of involvement in Epstein's model is the obligation of the school to communicate with parents by sending them memos and flyers and asking them to be visible in the school. The third type occurs when parents are involved with their children's education and in helping them with reading, their homework, or other required activities. The fourth type is parents being involved in the school, helping teachers in the classroom, and participating in the school activities. The fifth type occurs when parents play an active part in the school governance by being a part of the PTA or any organization that works for the school's and students' interests. The sixth type has parents and the school collaborating with community organizations and to get their support for school activities. The government and educators are concerned about having parents visible and active in their children's education because of the benefits that children get from schools' and parents' collaboration. In the following section, a list of benefits that schools, parents, and their children gain from parents being involved in schools are discussed. Next, some of the barriers that block some parents and teachers from having active parental involvement are examined. The Benefits of Parental Involvement in Schools A number of studies have documented the benefit of having parents involved in their children's schools whether for teachers, parents, or students. Haynes, Comer, 27

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and Lee ( 1989) for example, used pretest data and post-test data to investigate the influence of implementing a parental program "on students', teachers', and parents' perceptions of school and classroom climate, as well as on student achievement and attendance" (p. 87). The study used seven elementary schools. These were then compared to seven other schools in the following year as control schools. Three hundred six students were included from grades three to five, 176 in the experimental schools, and 112 in the control schools. One hundred fifty-five parents participated in the experimental schools, and 90 parents participated in the control schools. Ninetyone teachers participated in the experimental schools, and 56 teachers participated in the control schools. The study found that parental involvement had a positive influence on school climate whether for parents, teachers, or students. Additionally, Dye (1992) presented an experimental study, which was conducted in London, with children approximately four and five years old in four schools. The study lasted for three months. Each group, whether experimental or control, included 24 children. A parental involvement program was applied to the experimental group to see the influence of parental involvement on how students achieve and how teachers and parents work together. The program consisted of three components: meeting parents at schools, having parents' input in the classroom, and having parents and their children complete activities at home. The study used interviews, questionnaires, and observations to determine the influence of this program. The study found significant differences between the experimental and 28

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control groups in national tests, social skills, concentration, and math. Teachers and parents who participated in the program were satisfied with the program's results and supported it. Further, Hara and Burke (1998) used Epstein's model (1995) to implement a program in an inner-city elementary school at the third grade level. The authors collaborated with the local school council, eight faculty members, all parents of students, and representatives from the community. Forty-eight percent of the students were selected to be in the treatment group. The result confirmed that the parents' involvement program improved academic achievement for those students compared with students whose parents were not involved. Also, parents who participated in the program reported the following: (a) their interest in and appreciation for education, the teacher, and learning increased; (b) the level of interest in their children's school improved; and (c) parents' respect for the role of teachers and for the impact they have on children changed dramatically (p. 17). Besides, the attendance of students improved, parents' participation in school activities increased, students' self-esteem was enhanced, and the number of discipline problems decreased. Gestwicki (2000) points out that giving parents the chance to be in the classroom encourages parents to understand what is going on in the classroom and in the nature of the learning that their children need. Also, she said that involving parents in the classroom practices helps parents to observe the typical development for their children at certain ages and to notice their children's behavior so that they 29

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can discuss it with their teachers. Involving parents in the classroom makes children feel that they are special, important, and secure (Gestwicki, 2000). Likewise, parental involvement helps teachers to reduce the stress that they find in their jobs and makes it more effective by using parents' inputs (Lazar & Slostad, 1999). Parents could bring concerns that could help teachers in their job, and parents could discuss how teachers could help the children to overcome some of the problem's that they face (Rosenthal & Sawyers, 1996). Parents are a rich resource for information about their children; teachers need to know their students' ''past history-years of reactions, experiences, and characteristic styles of behaving that are unique" (Gestwicki, 2000, p. 135) so that teachers can meet students' needs and expectations. Barriers to Parental Involvement Although studies have confirmed the benefits that schools, parents, and children get from involving parents in their children's education, many parents are not as involved as they should be. Thus, many researchers have investigated the barriers that block parents from being involved in their children's schools. Harry, Allen, and McLaughlin, (1995), for example, mentioned that late information and inflexible times for conferences, an emphasis on documents rather than participation, and the use of"educatorese" or jargon limited meaningful participation for parents. 30

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Also, Holden (1990) reported that some reasons behind low parental involvement in school were lack of time, long distances from job or home to the school, parents not being asked to be involved, and lack of transportation and child care for activities. In addition, parents may not be sure about their abilities to help their children at the high school level because of the academic requirements (Lazar & Slostad, 1999). Some parents also may have had bad experiences with school when they were young which makes it difficult for them to deal with school unless a pressing need exists for them to do so (Grossman, 1999). It is not only parents who have reasons that could prevent or decrease their involvement in schools. Rosenthal and Sawyers ( 1996) assert that many teachers believe that parents are not capable of being partners with schools. In fact, many studies show that many teachers do not have pre-service or in-service training in communicating with parents. Grossman (1999), Lazer, Broderick, Mastrilli, and Siostad ( 1999), and Lazar and Slostad ( 1999) pointed out that, although people agree on the importance of the home-school partnership, teaching programs do not prepare teachers to have a positive attitude toward parents and to communicate with them effectively. Also, the nature of the work at the secondary level does not help the collaboration between teachers and parents because teachers are responsible for teaching 25 to 30 students each period and the complexity of the curriculum makes it hard to know every student (Lazar & Slostad, 1999). 31

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Leadership and Parental Involvement The principal plays a vital role in facilitating or hindering parental involvement in school and ''the principal as change facilitator carries special weight in school change" (Hall & Hord, 1987, p. 51). Fege (2000) asserts that school leaders should view parents as partners for educational refonn not as "appendages to schooling or meddlers in their work" (p. 39). Also, Wilson, Pentecoste, and Nelms (1983) pointed out that communication problems between schools and parents are at the principal level and depend on whether principals are willing to cooperate with parents. Therefore, it is not odd that district policies and school traditions could limit teachers' access to parents or via versa. For example, teachers often need pennission from the central office and school board to work with parents collaboratively (Lazar & Slostad, 1999). Long (1994) surveyed leadership practices of337 principals in Michigan elementary schools with low, middle, and high levels of parental involvement. The researcher found that the elementary principals who were effective leaders had high levels of parental involvement in their schools, and Wanat (1997) found that principals' practices are essential to build a supportive environment for parents' and teachers' collaboration. Likewise, Carr ( 1997) found a reciprocal relationship exists between the leadership style of the principal and the degree of parental involvement. The 32

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principal who empowered parents by words and actions had parents who were more involved, while the principal who controlled and depended on external motivations had parents who are passive. The principal who sent messages that conflicted with her or his actions found that parents hesitated to work with her or him. Thus, school administrators have to balance the different power groups in school and facilitate having a "comfortable, friendly climate that welcomes parents, visitors, and other community members, as well as a sense of fairness and equity" (Burns, 1999, p. 188). To have active parental involvement in schools, a principal should declare clear objectives to involve parents and to establish certain practices and activities to achieve these goals. For example, principal could provide different services to children and their parents such as health services, and social service. Or, principal could provide parents with a parenting education program which would help children indirectly. Also, the principal could create good relationships with parents and encourage teachers to work closely with parents. Finally, the principal should respect teachers' experiences and provide them with necessary skills to deal with parents (Kreider & Lopez, 1999). Further, the principal has to "broaden his or her own thinking about parent involvement" (Berninger, 1989, p. 32) and encourage parents to participate in making decisions. The principal has to work to make parents feel that they need to participate in their children's learning and to ask them how they want to be involved. The principal also has to convince teachers to work with parents and view parents as rich 33

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resources to accomplish their goals. Teachers need communication skills to deal with parents, and it is the principal's responsibility to provide them with training programs. Rewarding parents for their involvement could encourage more involvement (Berninger). On the other hand, Cooper and Mosley (1999) warn the principal to be careful when the school calls for parental involvement because parents could not be prepared well for that. The children's environment could have problems such as divorce, abuse, coercive relationships, and mental health problems. So, parents should be prepared well before they get involved in their children's education. Parental Involvement TYPes Parents could engage in different roles to provide their children with the support they need to be successful in their learning. Five types of involvement are explained in the following pages. Parenting at Home After reviewing the literature, Kellaghan, Sloane, Alvarez, and Bloom (1993) assert that the main factor to determine students' level of achievement in schools, even predicting the level of education that they can reach, is the home environment. Home environment consists of time and space management, the interaction between parents and their children, and family values. The nature of the home environment is 34

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what makes children ready to learn. Berger (2000) states that having children ''ready to learn" means that "children have the care, conditions, environment, health provisions, and nutrition that allow them to be ready to learn" (p. 5). In fact, Lam (1997) found that the academic achievement of children who had high monitoring and supporting parents is higher than that of those who had less monitoring and supporting parents after surveying 181 students in eighth grade and interviewing their parents in two inner-city schools in the Midwestern U.S. Further, Ballantine (1999) presented some suggestions for parents to provide a supportive environment for their children to be successful: developing helpful skills for children such as time management, providing guidance for watching TV, reading to children, and supporting different activities. Parker, Boak, and Criffin (1999) examined the influence of the parent-child relationship which has emotional warmth, support for independence, and less strictness and aggravation and of the home learning environment on school readiness (developing children's behavior and cognitive readiness so that they can adapt to the classroom easily). The researchers used a pretest/post-test longitudinal design to study 173 Hispanic mothers with their children, and they found that the parent-child relationship and home learning environment had a positive influence on the student readiness. Moreover, Deslandes, Royer and Turcotte (1997) used a questionnaire to examine the influence of parenting style and parental involvement in schooling for 35

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525 students (243 boys and 282 girls) whose ages ranged between 14 and 16. The researchers used the year-end point averages to assess the students' achievement, while they assessed parental style by whether these students perceived their parents as loving, responsive, and involved; how their parents monitored and supervised them; and how their parents functioned with democratic values and encouraged them to express their individuality. The study found that students who report that their parents are firm, warm, involved, and democratic do better in school than their peers. Surprisingly, Paulson's ( 1994) survey of eighty adolescent students (34 boys and 46 girls) found that parental involvement and parenting style had a positive influence more on boys' achievement than girls' achievement. The study justifies this finding by saying that peer and school influence is stronger on girls than on boys during their adolescent years. Helping with Homework Helping children with homework is another role that parents can play in their involvement with their children's learning. Indeed, many studies confirmed that helping children with homework can help them to do better in their schools (Keith, 1992; Schnobrich, 1986; Xu & Como, 1998). Keith (1992) investigated the influence of home atmosphere and structure, TV watching, and involvement in school activities on eighth-grade achievement. The study found that helping with homework is an important factor in student's achievement. 36

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Xu and Como (1998) examined six families to detennine how they help their third-grade students with their homework. These volunteer parents are well educated, had professional jobs, and helped their children regularly. The researchers used openended interviews with children, their parents, and teachers. They also videotaped two homework sessions for every family and conducted an interview reviewing what had happened in each homework session. Three of these families were given a package of homework every Monday to be turned in on Friday. The package had six to seven pages of assignments including reading, current events, spelling, social studies, and math while the other three families were asked to work with their children daily based on their class work and, from time to time, do a long paper. Xu and Como ( 1998) found that parents and teachers view the purpose of homework differently from using it as an extrinsic reinforcement of school learning or to seeing it as a means to learn personal attributes and skills or to get parents' and teachers' approval. The study found in general that homework was a challenge for parents and their children because it limited their participation in other activities. However, the parents in the study tended to help their children cope with homework assignment difficulties with different strategies. They arranged the homework environments and managed time to keep their children focused on their assignments. Parents also motivated their children and worked with their emotional states to ensure that they did their homework. 37

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Because of the documented benefits of homework, Schnobrich (1986), a teacher at the George Howland Elementary School in Chicago, designed a program to involve parents with their children to do children's homework. One hundred eighty six parents from kindergarten to third grade participated. The program used frequent homework tasks. Teachers graded homework, reported grades on cards to children and their parents, and provided parents with a workshop to help their children with their homework and their activities. The program succeeded in involving parents, and the communication between teachers and parents become positive results for achievement. Communication between Schools and Parents Having active parents in school became a request from many schools to help them to do a better job in helping their students. Leitch and Tangri (1988) interviewed 60 parents and 29 junior high school teachers to learn what prevents parents from being involved in the school. The study found that the lack of knowledge about how each can use the other person more effectively ... is a major barrier" (p. 74). Teachers should have formal and informal communication with parents by using periodic reports, calls, and visiting (Anderson & Smith, 1999) to inform parents about what is going on in schools. According to White ( 1998), Communication is the foundation of a solid partnership. When parents and educators communicate effectively, positive relationships develop, problems are more easily 38

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solved, and students make greater progress (p. 8). Additionally, White asserted that the effective communication between the school and parents should be two-way not just reporting from the school side. Parents' Involvement in Children's Activities Students need parents to be visible in their activities inside and outside the school. Young, Helton, and Whitley ( 1997) conducted interviews with twenty students from a high school using a questionnaire to determine the importance of extra-curricular involvement in school, home, and community and its influence on students' performance academically. The study found that the activities of students at school, at home, and within the community have a significant influence on their performance academically and their social and emotional growth. Parents as Decision Makers Brown, Perry, and Mcintire (1994) examined teachers' and principals' perceptions about current and desired involvement for 1 S2 teachers and 223 principals by survey. The study found that principals and teachers desire more involvement from parents in mission, curriculum, and communication, but they do not want involvement in assessing the curriculum. Another study by Lindle (1992) explored the influence of school councils, which consist of parents, teachers, and principals, on parental involvement in Kentucky. She found that school councils are 39

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frustrated because of the level of attendance of parents and their tendency to emphasize personal issues. Moreover, DeLaney ( 1997) observed committee meetings and interviewed six parents and found that parents like to be involved in order to serve their families and communities; however, sometimes they are not satisfied with the way decisions are made in school or with the relationship among the participants in their meetings. Parents want more information and respect to be effectively involved which entails involving them in a way that they prefer. White ( 1998) asserts that parents should be involved in curriculum, course selection, discipline policies, and any school-reform measures based on shared authority with educators. The Influence of Demographic Factors in Parental Involvement in Schools Several studies reported that gender of teachers and parents, parents' level of education, parents' background, and years of experience for teachers play a significant role in the extent of parental involvement in schools. Bogenschneider ( 1997) surveyed 10,000 students in grades 9 to 12 in nine schools in California and Wisconsin that represent urban, suburban, and rural students from different ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds. Bogenschneider found that mothers are more involved with their daughters' schools than their sons' schools, while fathers are involved equally the schools of with their sons and their daughters. Also, high-level education 40

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mothers and fathers were more involved with their children's education. He states that families "with two biological parents were more involved than mothers or non custodial fathers in either single-mother or stepfather families" (p. 727). Carter and Wojtkiewicz (2000) examined whether parents were involved differently with the education of their adolescent in terms of gender. They surveyed about 25,000 eighth-grade students and analyzed school discussions, parent-school connections, parental expectations, parental attendance at school events, and three measures of parental supervision (checking homework, limiting television watching, and limiting going out with friends) for gender differences. Carter and Wojtkiewicz (2000) found that daughters usually experienced more parental involvement with their education than did sons in these areas. Moreover, Al-Houli (1999) studied two hundred (100 male and 100 female) teachers' attitudes towards parental involvement in elementary schools in Kuwait. He found that teachers' gender influenced teachers' levels of perceptions of parental involvement: female teachers have more positive perceptions of parental involvement. However, male teachers are more willing to work with the opposite gender than female teachers. Male teachers believe that the PTA is more important to successful schools than female teachers do. AI-Houli (1999) reported that male teachers have less positive perceptions of parental involvement as their years of experience decreased, while positive perceptions increase with years of experience 41

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for female teachers. Further, Brown (1994) states that female principals want more parental involvement than male principals. Eccles and Harold (1996) surveyed 1,400 African-American and EuropeanAmerican students from seventh and eighth grades. They found that parents with high income and with more education were more involved with their children's learning at school than home. Also, they found that African-American parents were more involved at home than European-American parents. However, EuropeanAmerican parents were more involved at school than the African-American parents. Bogenschneider ( 1997) also found that parental involvement differs among ethnic groups, and Dornbush and Glasgow (1996) pointed out that Asian parents are more involved at home than they are in schools and that "different ethnic groups exhibit high involvement in schooling in different ways" (p. 42). Further, Dunlap and Alva (1999) noted that language and the level of education for parents could affect their involvement in school. They mentioned that teachers do not share one common view about parental involvement because of the length of their teaching experience, their ethnicity, and their beliefs. Thus, a teacher's background may make it hard for some teachers to deal with parents. Summmy Having parents active in their children's education bears plenty ofbenetits whether for parents and their children or schools. These benefits include improving 42

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children's academic perfonnance, self-esteem, and school attendance and building parents' appreciation for education, teachers, and learning. In spite of the benefits that schools or parents can gain from having parents involved with children's education, some barriers create obstacles to parents and schools working together. Obstacles include late infonnation and inflexible time for conferences, an emphasis on documents rather than participation, long distance commuting from job or home to schools, unclear responsibilities for parents, lack of teachers' communication skills. Likewise, the gender of parents or teachers or principals, years of experience of teachers, and the level of education of parents could hinder active parental involvement in schools. Parents play different roles, whether at home or at school, to enrich the children's environment for better academic achievement. These roles include taking care of children's health and safety, organizing space and time for their learning, or helping children with homework and any required activity. Parents may extend their roles in their children's education and become involved in schools by organizing school activities or being in classrooms helping teachers. Ultimately, parents also can participate in schools' decisions that concern their children's learning. 43

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CHAPTER THREE METHODOLOGY Many studies have found that parents usually get involved when their children are in elementary school. When the children reach high school, parents' involvement in schools decreases (Catsambis & Garland, 1997; Philipsen, 1996). Thus, elementary, middle, and high schools were selected for this study in order to discuss whether differences could be found in parent's involvement over the span of their children's education. Further, because the UAE educational system separates the schools based on gender (female teachers teach in girls schools and in elementary boys schools, while male teachers teach in boys schools), the study has male and female schools to represent both genders. In order to answer the research questions about what types of the parental involvement are present in UAE schools and whether parental involvement is associated with successful schools in the UAE, I looked for schools in the United Arab Emirates recognized as successful by the Ministry of Education. However, I found that the Ministry of Education and educational districts do not have criteria to distinguish successful schools. While the supervisors from each educational district examine schools, their reports are not available for public review. Because 44

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the information in these reports is considered to be offensive to schools not rated successful, such data are not made available. Thus, I looked for the distinguished schools that win the Hamadan Bin Rashid AI Maktoum Award for Distinguished Academic Performance because they win based on criteria established by educators who work for this award. I got the list of these schools from the Ministry of Education so that I could interview their principals, teachers, and parents. These schools included two high schools, one for boys and the other for girls from Dubai, a middle school for girls from Dubia. a basic elementary school (first to third grades) for boys from Ras Alkhyamah, and an upper elementary school (forth to sixth grades) for girls from Sharjah. To examine whether parental involvement contributed to these distinguished schools, each educational district that had a distinguished school helped me in selecting other schools that did not get the Hamadan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Award for Distinguished Academic Perfonnance but matched the distinguished schcols in area, level, and gender. During this study, the interviews sought the in-depth information about parents' types of school-oriented involvement with their children and the nature of parental involvement in these schools. I used open-ended questions based on Epstein's (1995) and Moore's (1990) types of parental involvement doing these interviews. The interviews were taped after receiving the permission of principals, teachers, and parents, and then I translated the responses into Engiish. I examined the responses for and categorized them by themes (Rubin & Rubin, 1995). 45

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Subjects The participants in the study were chosen based on three criteria: (a) sufficiency (sites and subjects varied and representative of the larger population), (b) saturation (sample large enough that toward the end, I would not learn anything new from informants) and (c) the participants could be interviewed in the limited time that I had to conduct the study (Seidman, 1998). See Tables 3.1 and 3. 2 for listing of schools selected and participants for this study, where I list the level of schools, the gender of the school, the principal, the teacher, the parents, and their numbers. In these tables, (F) means female school and female teacher and (M) means male school and male teacher. The sample had ten principals (two males and eight females) and three teachers from each school for a total of30 teachers (6 male teachers and 24 female teachers). I also had in my sample three caregivers from each school for a total of 30 caregivers (thereafter "parents") that included 25 mothers, three sisters, one aunt, and one father. All principals were UAE citizens who had bachelors' degrees, and their ages ranged from 34 to 49. Their experience ranged from 2 to 22 years. Teachers consisted of nineteen UAE citizens, four Egyptians, two Jordanians, one Palestinian, three Syrians, and one Iraqi. 46

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Table 3.1 Distingyished Schools' based on School Level and Gender Schools School Principals Teachers Parents Totals Gender Basic Elementary 1 M I F 3 F 3 F Schools Upper 1 F 1 F 3 F 3 F Elementary Schools Middle School 1 F 1 F 3 F 3 F High Schools 1 M 1 M 3 M 2 F 1 F 1 F 3 F 1 M 3 F 2 M 1 M 3 M 1 M 3 F 3 F 12 F 14 F Totals 5 15 15 35 Table 3. 2 Regylar Schools' based on School Level and Gender Schools School Principals Teachers Parents Totals Gender Basic Elementary 1 M 1 F 3 F 3 F Schools Upper 1 F 1 F 3 F 3 F Elementary Schools Middle School 1 F 1 F 3 F 3 F High Schools 1 M 1 M 3 M 3 F 1 F 1 F 3 F 3 F 2 M 1 M 3 M 15 F 3 F 4 F 12 F Totals 5 15 15 35 47

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One teacher had a master's degree, twenty-three teachers had bachelors', three teachers had a license, and three teachers had a diploma. Teachers' experiences ranged from 2 to 28 years. Teachers' ages ranged from 24 to 56 years old. Some parents were illiterate, while others had had education through the third grade, high school, and bachelors' degree, and their ages ranged from 21 to 45 years old. Parents represented different nationalities: two Egyptians, two Yemeni and 26 Emirates of which two are originally from India and Egypt. The parents who interviewed had between 4 to 8 children. Instrument Interviewing is the best way to understand people's experience and how they make meaning of their experience (Seidman, 1998). Thus, face-to-face interviews helped me get detailed opinions and experiences from principals, teachers, and parents about parental involvement in the selected schools. During the interviews, I started with prepared questions, and based on the participant's answers, I used follow up questions when needed to get clarification and examples from their responses (Kvale, 1996; Rubin & Rubin, 1995). The interview helped me communicate with parents who may not be educated well enough to answer written questions, such as a survey. Each interview lasted about one hour and sometimes less than one hour. The questions were as clear as possible, and I did not ask any questions that could identify the respondent (Gay, 1996; Krathwohl, 1998). 48

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I had three sections of questions in my interview. The first section focused on types of parental involvement. The second section had general questions about the obstacles and beliefs that could keep principals, teachers, and parents from having parents actively involved in schools. Even though the placement of demographic questions is different from one researcher to another (Lecompte & Preissle, 1993), I preferred to place the demographic questions at the end of the interview because parents in the UAE were likely to be offended by such questions at the outset of an interview. Section One This section focuses on six types of parental involvement in children's education. Under each type of parental involvement, I have some representative questions such as bow students get ready at home for school, bow parents help their children with homework, how school and parents communicate, what reasons lie behind their communication, how often parents visit their children's classroom, what keeps parents from visiting their children's school, how parents influence school decisions, and what parents do to get community support for school activities (Epstein, 1995; Moore, 1990). See Appendixes A, B, and C for copies of the actual interview protocols. 49

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Section Two Section two of the interview has general questions for principals, teachers, and parents about parental involvement in UAE. Principals' and teachers' questions are about whether teachers and principals want parents to be involved in the schools, how parents can be involved in the schools, what kinds of problems teachers and principals face with parents, and what suggestions they would make to encourage parents to be more involved in the schools. The general questions for parents focus on whether or not parents want to be involved in their children's schools, how parents want to be involved in their children's schools, what barriers parents face which prevent them from being involved in the schools, how principals and teachers treat them when they visit their children's schools, and what parents think about their children's achievement in the schools. Section Three The last section has demographic questions about the gender, level of education, age, number of children that parents have, and years of experience of principals and teachers. so

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Validity and Reliability Content validity was established, which is the degree to which a test measures an intended content area. Content validity requires both item validity and sampling validity. Item validity is concerned with whether the test items represent measurement in the intended content area, and sampling validity is concerned with how wen the test samples the total content area. (Gay, 1996, p. 139) My advisor from the University of Colorado at Denver, School of Education, determined the content of questions that represents the intended content areas. Further, a teacher from the United Arab Emirates University at the Co11ege of Education independently analyzed and coded the data with me to establish intercoder reliability (Weber, 1990). Fina11y, the English version of the interview questions was translated to Arabic by an assistant teacher in the English department at UAE University and me. Then, the translated questions were reviewed by one teacher from the college of education and another teacher from Arabic department at the UAE University to assure that the language was clear and appropriate for the subjects. Procedures I got a letter from the University of the United Arab Emirates in Al-Ain to the Ministry of Education and Youth (MEY) in Dubai to facilitate conducting the study. After that, I visited the MEY to get its permission to do the study. 51

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II I I I I i i I 1 After receiving the pennission from the MEY to conduct my study, I also visited the educational district for each emirate that had the distinguished schools-Dubai, Sharjah, and Ras al-khaimah to get their pennission, too. The research department from each educational district in Dubai, Ras al khaimah looked at the interview questions to make sure that these questions do not threaten the subjects or embarrass the Ministry of Education, the educational district, or the school. Also, the educational district helped me in selecting other schools that did not get the award from the same area, the same level, and the same gender. After that, I called the ten schools' principals to ask their pennission to visit the school and get the directions to each school. Usually, schools start between 7:30 or 8:15, depending on the level of the school, the gender of the school, and bus schedules. The school day ends by 2:00 or 2:30 in the afternoon. Classes generally run for 45 minutes in middle and high schools. The upper elementary school day is divided into 40-minute segments. Students have a break for 25 or 30 minutes after the third class. In basic elementary schools (first to third grade), one teacher teaches all of the subjects, while in the upper elementary schools (fourth to sixth grade) students have different teachers for different subjects. Schools are not in session on Thursday and Friday, but run from Saturday through Wednesday. During my visit to each school, I explained to the subjects the purpose of the study and the benefits that the school could get from it such as knowing how parents 52

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actually participate in their children's education and what they want parents to do to achieve the school's goals successfully. I interviewed each school principal and asked for a random selection of three teachers and three parents to be interviewed. I selected three teachers randomly from a list of teachers' names and three parents from a list of students' names who belong to the same classes as the teachers provided by the principals. I sent letters to parents through their children explaining the purpose of my study and the benefits that they could get from their participation such as having the Ministry of Education and Youth recognize their roles in their children's schools and facilitate their communication with their children's schools. In addition, the letter included my phone number if parents wanted to contact me for clarification about the study or the interview. The next day, after getting their phone numbers from the school administration, I called these parents to ask them if they wanted to participate in the study. All of them consented to participate in the study. I asked all the participants to sign an informed consent statement in which I described the purpose of the study, background information about me, and the benefits of the study. I also promised to share the results of the study on request, which they could note on the consent form, and all the principals and most of the teachers asked me for a copy of the study. Helping participants to be comfortable in answering the study questions is essential. Thus, I trusted my instincts and watched for participants' nonverbal 53

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behavior that might convey that they were not comfortable such as having a vague expression on their faces for any question (Seidman, 1998). During the interview, I watched the subjects' reactions to each question and their body language to see if they got comfortable. If not, I moved to another question until they get comfortable with me, and then I came back to that question. I listened carefully to their answers and asked for clarification if their answers were not clear or complete (Gay, 1996; Krathwohl, 1998; Kvale, 1996; Rubin & Rubin, 1995). The duration of the interview for each participant was about one hour, sometimes less than one hour. I also asked each participant for contact information in case I wanted to ask further questions for clarification. After finishing each interview, I thanked each participant for participating. Analyses After taping the principals', teachers', and parents' interviews, I translated them into English, examining and categorizing them by themes. The first step in analyzing the data is to code each interview (See table 3.3). I coded principal interviewees from distinguished basic elementary schools as DBEBP and used RBEBP for principals from regular schools. Teachers' interviews from the distinguished basic elementary school were coded as DBEBT1 to DBEBT3 and RBEBT1 to RBEBT3 for teachers from regular school. Parents' codes from the 54

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distinguished basic elementary school were coded as DBEBPl to DBEBP3, and the parents from the regular school were coded as RBEBPl to RBEBP3. Table 3.3 The ParticiJ!ants' Codes Schools Level Principals' Teachers' Parents' Codes Codes Codes Distinguished Boys' High DHBP DHBTl DHGSl School DHBT2 DHGPl DHBT3 DHGP2 Girls' High DHGP DHGTl DHBPl School DHGT2 DHBP2 DHGT3 DHBP3 Regular Boys' High RHBTl RHBPl School RHBP RHBT2 RHBP2 RHBT3 RHBP3 Girls' High Schools RHGP RHGTl RHGPI RHGT2 RHGP2 RHGT3 RHGP3 Distinguished Girls' Middle DMGP DMGTI DMGPl School DMGT2 DMGP2 DMGT3 DMGP3 Regular Girls' Middle RMGP RMGTl RMGPl School RMGT2 RMGP2 RMGT3 RMGP3 Distinguished Girls' Upper DUEGP DUEGTl DUEGPI Elementary DUEGT2 DUEGP2 School DUEGT3 DUEGP3 Girls' Upper RUEGP RUEGTl RUEGSl Regular Elementary RUEGT2 RUEGPl School RUEGT3 RUEGP2 Distinguished Boys' Basic DBEBP DBEBTl DBEBSl Elementary DBEBT2 DBEBPl School DBEBT3 DBEBP2 ss

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Table 3.3 (Cont.) Schools Regular LeveVGender Boys' Basic Elementary School Principals' Codes RBEBP Teachers' Codes RBEBTl RBEBT2 RBEBT3 Note. (S) stands for sister, and (A) stands for Aunt instead of one of the parents. Parents' Codes RBEBPl RBEBP2 RBEBAl Principals from distinguished upper elementary schools for girls were coded as DUEGP, and principals from regular upper elementary schools were coded as RUEGP. The teachers from distinguished upper elementary school were coded as DUEGTl to DUEGT3, and teachers from regular upper elementary schools were RUEGTl to RUEGT3. Parents from the distinguished upper elementary school were coded as DUEGPl to DUEGP3, and RUEGPl to RUEGP3 were used for parents from regular upper elementary schools. The principal from the distinguished middle school for girls was coded as DMGP, and the principal from the regular middle school was coded as RMGP. The teachers from the distinguished middle school were coded as DMGTl to DMGT3, and teachers from the regular middle school were coded as RMGTI to RMGT3. Parents from the distinguished middle school were coded as DMGPl to DMGP3, and RMGPl to RMGP3 were used for parents from the regular middle school. I coded principals' interviews as DHBP for the distinguished high school for boys and RHBP for the regular. The parents from the distinguished high school for 56

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boys were coded as DHBPl to DHBP3 and as RHBPl to RHBP3 for the regular. Additionally, teachers' interviews from the distinguished high school for boys were coded as DHBTl to DHBT3 and as RHBTI to RHBT3 for the regular. The principals' codes from the distinguished high school for girls were DHGP, and RHGP was used for principals' interviews from regular school. The parents from the distinguished high school for girls were coded as DHGP1 to DHGP3 and RHGP1 to RHGP3 were used for parents from the regular school. Also, teachers' interviews from the distinguished high school for girls were coded as DHGT1 to DHGT3 and as RHGT1 to RHGT3 for teachers from the regular school. Next, I put each question in to a separate computer file and compiled the answers from principals, teachers, and parents from distinguished schools separately for each question. Then, I reviewed each computer file to search for themes and concepts (Kvale, 1996; Rubin & Rubin, 1995). I used a semiotic-clustering technique (Feldman, 1995) to analyze the data and make sense out about how parents are involved in their children's education. See Table 3. 4. This technique considers the relationship between connotative meanings, signs, and parental issues that are associated with competing meanings, and it helped me to look for different clusters of data. Semiotic-clustering helped me to interpret the data based on the relations among entries placed in one of three columns. The first column labeled signs for each question where I listed all the various ways that the subjects answered each 57

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question for each type of parental involvement. The second column was labeled as "Connotative Meanings." In this column, I asked myself what each type of parental involvement means for this subject to see the pattern in the subjects' answers. Table 3. 4 What do you do to prcmare your child for the school? Distinguished Schools Parents DUEGPI DUEGP2 DUEGBP3 Signs I encourage her to prepare her lessons, and to do her homework, and I take care of her food and her clothes. When they come from the school, they change their clothes, pray, and they have their launch. They sleep for while after that and then they start studying. My daughter is doing fine in school, she does not need any help from me. We encourage her to prepare for her lessons and study what she takes every day, and we take care of her food and her clothes. Connotative Meanings The mother's role is supervisor and motivator The students depends on herself in studying The mother's role is supervisors, and the student depends on herself in studying The mother's role is supervisors, and the student depends on herself in studying 58 Parental Issues Parents direct the student's learning

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The third column labeled parental involvement issues. Here, I identified the general issues that principals, teachers, and parents talked about. The summary of the general issues suggested themes that "explain why something happens or what something means" (Rubin & Rubin, 1995, p. 57) to fit a common pattern or concepts supported by examples that confinn or disconfirm these themes. After that, I examined distinguished school principals', teachers', and parents' responses for similarities and differences based on repeated themes. Then, I compared these themes across the files regarding the types of parental involvement in these schools to discover connections between themes. I put into each theme all the responses that spoke about one concept according to subjects' responses and their examples. The results of the study are organized based on the participants' stories, including the principals' story, the teachers' story, and the parents' story. For the principals' story, I divided the story into two parts; one describing distinguished principals' schools and the second part describing the regular schools in terms of the six types of parental involvement as the principals narrated. For the teachers' story, I also divided the story into two parts. In the first part, I described teachers' views of distinguished school on the six types of parental involvement. The following table shows how I analyzed and interpreted principals', teachers', and parents' responses. In the second part, I described teachers' views of regular schools on the six types of parental involvement. 59

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In the parents' story, I explained the story into two parts. First, the views of parents from distinguished schools on the six types of parental involvement, and then the views of parents from regular schools on the six types of parental involvement. The next chapters present the result of interviewing principals, teachers, and parents. The results of interview are presented in a narrative fonn based on the six types of parental involvement and the participants in this study. The next chapter narrates principals' answers based on the six types of parental involvement. The fifth chapter describes teachers' answers based on the six types of parental involvement. The sixth chapter presents parents' answers based on the six types of parental involvement. The seventh chapter presents a comparison between the subjects from distinguished schools and from regular schools based on the six types of parental involvement to find similarities and differences of the views of distinguished and regular school subjects. 60

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CHAPTER FOUR THE PRINCIPALS' STORY This study addresses these two questions: what are the types of parental involvement in UAE schools, and how is parental involvement related to successful school in UAE schools. To answer these questions, I designed open-ended questions based on Epstein's (1995) and Moore's (1990) models for parental involvement types (Appendix A). Using these models, 10 principals were interviewed, five from distinguished schools and five from regular schools. The interview questions that I asked principals were based on these six types of parental involvement: (a) parenting at home by taking care of children's health, their discipline, and their school attendance; (b) communicating between school and parents; (c) involving parents in classes and school activities; (d) helping children with their learning at home; (e) involving parents in making decisions in schools through the PTA or any organization that represents them; and (f) bringing schools and parents together to get the support of community organizations. This chapter illustrates the principals' views about the types of parental involvement in the UAE schools, and whether parental involvement is related to the school's success. First, I present the views of principals from distinguished schools and then the views of principals from regular schools. 61

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The Principals of Distinguished Schools. Five principals from elementary, middle, and high schools were interviewed. The two high school principals included a male principal for the boys school, DHBP, and a female principal for the girls school, DHGP. The middle school principal was a female principal for a girls' school, DMGP. The elementary principals included one female principal for a basic elementary school for boys {first to third grade), DBEBP, and the other for the upper elementary school for girls (fourth to sixth grade), DUEGP. The following section summarizes their views about the six types of parental involvement in the UAE schools. Parenting at Home Most principals agreed that students' appearance, their health, their test results, and their activities are indicators whether students are well cared for at home. The principals of the elementary and the middle schools observed that many children were not well cared for at home. For example, DBEBP said, "Fifty percent of our students are well cared for," while DUEGP stated that "seventy percent of the students are well cared for at home." This percentage decreased in the middle school for girls to 40 percent." In secondary schools, the principals could not decide which students are well cared for at home and which are not because students at this stage of education tend to take care of themselves. As DHGP commented, "It is secondary 62

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level. The students care about their appearance, and it is hard to tell of the home care about them well at home; it is more clear in the elementary grades." Additionally, the principals of elementary schools see that most of the students come to the school ready to learn, while (this number drops in the middle school to 40 percent. In the high schools, the principals could not determine the readiness of the students. DHBP remarked that "most of the time, I work to have an attractive environment for them by having different programs and activities, and we work to bring the students to the school by any means." As DHGP commented, It is a problem for this generation. Now students are different from the previous generation. Now, they have a lot of educational channels that participate in educating them. However, we try to attract our students to the school and limit other influences, especially the negative ones from the Internet and the West. Few parents send their children to the school sick or with health problems as most of the principals said. If parents think that their children have small health problems such as a fever or a cold, they send them to the school. As DUEGP said, "Some parents send their children to the school if they think it is a small thing such as fever or simple pain in the teeth." Sometimes, parents do not know if their children are sick. However, some parents care enough to come to school and take them to the hospital. DHGP stated that They care about their students. However, we have some medical cases when the school nurse takes care of them. I notice that some parents care about their children's medical appointments and their time for check-up appointments. 63

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Further, some teachers complain about students who do not do their homework, and it is different from one school to another and from one level to another as the principals said. DHGP stated, "Of course, we have it, but it increases with art section and decreases with science section." In the science section, students take science classes such as chemistry, physics, biology, and geology. In the art section, they take art classes such as history, geography, philosophy, and psychology. and usually it depends on whether teachers complain. DMGP commented that, ''maybe from each class, 4 to 5 students do not do their homework, but usually 5% of teachers complain about that." I asked these principals what reasons could stop parents from helping their children with homework, and they said that some parents are not educated, other parents busy with their work or with then big families, or some parents are inattentive. DMGP said, Some of them do not know how to read or write, others do not care, others have problems at home so they do not stay at home. Some parents do not care about the school because in the end the girl will end up getting married. Some parents prefer their daughters to go with them in the afternoon for soc:ial visiting instead of studying. DUEGP stated, "It could be the family is big, and the mother is tired with the home work. The father is busy with his job." DBEBP added that "we have many parents who are illiterate, ignorant parents and some fathers who are old like 70 and foreign mothers who do not speak Arabic well." 64

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However, all of the school principals invited parents to the school to talk with them about how to support the students at home. DHGP asserted, We talk with mothers and students to find out the reasons behind the level of their achievement so we can direct and solve some of the problems that the students have. Sometimes, parents give their children every material, but it comes with an opposite effect on their achievement. We ask mothers to pay attention to their children if their children are studying or just they are pretending that they are studyiug. Having a private room, phone, and TV do not ensure that their students will do their best in studying. In sum, according to the principals of the distinguished schools, more than half the parents take care of their children's attendance, health, and homework. However, the principals still complain of parents who do not seem to care strongly and are not involved with their children's homework. Communication Between the School and Parents The principals of distinguished schools invite parents to the school and try to communicate with them whether by phone, by letters, or through personal visits. At the high school for girls, the principal established a communication project between the school and parents who are given passwords by the school to check their children's grades and the school activities on the computer. DHBP stated, "Mostly we call them, and we send letters to the parents and make the students sign a copy for us so we can avoid a future problem with the parents or the student who may say that we did not give him a letter for his parents." Likewise, DUEGP asserted that 65

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''usually, we send letters, but if we want specific mothers to be in the school, we call them and provide transportation for them if they need it." Some principals encourage teachers to communicate directly with parents whether by phone, notes, or even visits while other principals depend on the school social worker, who observes students' achievement and tries to determine why some students have academic or behavior problems by contacting their teachers and parents, to communicate with parents. However, DHBP does not like the idea of giving teachers the chance to communicate directly with parents because some teachers may take advantage of that and ask parents to pay them as tutors for their children. He said, "Honestly, I do not encourage teachers to call parents, you know why? To prevent some teachers from looking for personal interest such as to asked to be a private tutor for some students, and from my experience it is better not to let teachers call parents." Some parents respond to the school communication immediately; others ignore the school communication. DHGP said, "Some parents are indifferent and depend on the school. Some parents are busy with their work and do not have enough time to visit the school. Some families have social problems such as parents' separation." Moreover, DMGP noted that "some parents ignore our communication and do not care about the school, and others do not have time to communicate with us. Other parents do not have transportation, or they are busy with small children." DUEGP added that "some parents think that they did what they should do at home, 66

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and there is no need to visit the school. Some parents do not like being in the school because they feel there is no place for them." Most of the principals agreed that the best way to communicate with parents is to meet them face to face. Yet, some like DUEGP prefer some training courses in different topics to attract parents to the school. She said, "Giving parents training courses whether in cooking, losing weight, and computing could encourage parents to communicate with us." In general, the principals try hard to communicate with parents and meet them face to face. However, obstacles to their communication include ignorance parents, transportation, job hours, and small children at home. Most of the principals encourage teachers to communicate with parents, but some still worry about teachers who may misuse this to tutor parents' children. Involving Parents in Classrooms and School Activities The principals of distinguished school reported that parents are not involve in the classroom activities; however, most of the principals believe that it is important to have parents visit the classroom or help in it because it motivates their children, recognizes teachers' effort, and encourages parents to help. DHGP, for example, believes in the importance of involving parents in the classroom. She said, ''Parents visiting the classroom could motivate students to do their best. Besides, mothers see teachers' effort in teaching their children which motivates mothers to help their 67

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children and their teachers." Another principal from the basic elementary school believes that parents' involvement in the class could be by providing the classroom with needed technology. She said, "We are in the technology world. If parents help me to buy more computers, some overhead projectors, their children will benefit the most." Some principals believe that just parents' visit could be useful to the school and children. As DMGP said, At least their attending is important to see the teachers' effort and see the different levels of students' achievement which could motivate the mother to encourage her daughter to be like other girls who have better levels of achievement. Other principals think that parents could help in the classroom academically. DUEGP remarked that "if the parents are well educated, they can teach and give some of their experience to students." Thus, some principals think that most of the teachers will like the idea because parents will be helpful hands for them. DHGP said, ''Teachers will encourage parents to be in the classroom because it will benefit them and support their effort, especially if parents believe that teachers are doing their best." Some principals said that some will be happy while others will not because they do not like to be watched. DUEGP predicted that "some teachers will be happy to have parents be active with them and supportive of their work. Others could hesitate because they cannot work with parents in the classroom." 68

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I i i II Nonetheless, DHBP does not like the idea of inviting parents to the classroom because some fathers could offend their children in front of the class, which affects the student negatively. He said, There is nothing parents could offer in the classroom. They just can visit the classroom to see where their children sit. Some parents could be impolite with their children in front of their peers and the teacher. They could say something embarrassing or even hit the students which is not acceptable in my school. Therefore, DHBP could not anticipate what teachers' reactions could be for having parents in the classroom. He said, "It did not happen before to tell you about their reaction." Not only are parents not involved in the classroom activities, but also not as many parents are involved in school activities, as principals of distinguished schools want. DHBP said that "I have some parents who visit the school every week, and about 20% to 30% are the same faces. I have parents whose sons enter the school and graduate, and they never visit the school." Some parents visit the school when it is necessary. "Some of them visit the school when their children get their grade reports, others when their children are in trouble," DBEBP said. Some parents do not visit the school activities because the school does not bold attractive activities for parents. As DHGP observed, "It seems that parents do not like the activities that we do." Usually parents who have good students at the school are the ones who are visible in the school. As DMGP said, "The parents of good students usually visit the school, but parents oflow-achieving students do not visit the school." However, 69

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DUEGP noted that "I see some parents four times at least in a year." The reasons behind invisible parents in the school, according to the principals, are that they did not get an invitation, they are busy, they are not attracted to the school activities, or they do not feel welcome at the school. Additionally, DMGP said that the school does not know "whether they do not care or they are busy with the world or with small children at home or with family problems." DBEBP noted that "some parents do not know the importance ofbeing involved in the school activities. They do not know how much is important for their children's achievement." All principals wish that parents could be active in the school activities, and other principals want parents to manage the school. As DHBP says, "I wish they could manage the school." Most of the principals agreed that parents' participation in the school should be around the school activities, funding, planning, and organizing. However, DHBP said, I wish that I had a PTA who would come to me weekly and a.'k for the school reports to evaluate my job to support the positive side and direct me to change the negative side." In short, the principals of distinguished schools recognize the importance of parents' involvement whether in the classrooms or in school activities. However, they face that they do not have parents who can be involved in classrooms because most parents are not well educated or are not willing to be in classrooms. Some principals do not like parents to be in the classrooms because some parents could embarrass their children if they yell at them. Also, these principals complain that few 70

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parents visit their school activities because they are ignorant, lack transportation, are busy with their jobs, have small children, or do not find school activities appealing to them. Helping Children with Learning at Home According to the principals, few parents come to the school to ask how they can help their children at home. DBEBP observed, for example, that S% or 10% of parents care." DUEGP said, "I did not have parents who asked me how they can help their children." DMGP reported that he had "few parents who come to the school and ask some teachers how they can help their children." DHGP stated that "1 never had parents who asked me how they can help their children." Further, DHBP noticed "small numbers of parents who care about their children's learning at home, and usually they are from other countries." Involving Parents in Decision Making All distinguished schools have PT As, and they range from six to fifteen parents, mostly well-educated parents, who have positions in the community. Some parents are nominated by the principal, and others are elected by parents. The function of the PTA in the distinguished school is advisory. It does not make any decisions, and it just gives suggestions to improve school activities. The principals disagreed on the role of their PTA. DHGP said, "They don't influence our 71

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school. They are designed as a picture. On the other hand. DHBP stated, ''This association discusses things to improve school perfonnance, whether school achievement or the school activities." Also, DUEGP said, "They support school activities. They bought some computers and planted our school, and they support us financially." DMGP considers the PTA as connection between the school and the community: "They connect us with the community." The principals want the PTA decisions to be around improving the school activities and solving students' problems. DBEBP said, "We want them to make decisions regarding everything about the students: their nutrition, their learning and their activities," and DMGP added, ''They do not make decisions. They just give suggestion for the school activities and how to raise the student level of achievement." DHBP said, "We discuss the school's activities and the school's level of achievement, the relationship of teachers with students, and teachers and students with the administration." DUEGP wants the PTA to "find fw:ds for school activities, and give suggestions to improve school activities. Some parents asked us to have curtains in the classroom, and we did. Other parents asked us to build a big umbrella in the middle of the school to protect their children from sun, and we did." All principals do not want parents to do more than give suggestions for and opinions about school activities. For example, DBEBP said. "We want their involvement to be effective, and they help the school more with anything they can offer." DMGP asked parents ''to provide the school with different services such as 72

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financial support, and connect us with different organizations." DHGP wants parents to "participate in the school planning, and establishing rules that they want their children to stick with." Further, DHBP wants parents to support with everything that can improve the school work, especially money. I cannot respond to their suggestions to improve the school without their money especially because the ministry budget does not help that much and does not reach parents' dreams for what they want for their children. All of these principals attend in the PTA meetings, and they wish to have more active parents in their PTA. DBEBP said, "I want mothers to be more active and involved with the school, especially mothers oflow-achieving students." DHGP said, "I wish that the PTA would be active and involved with school. I wish that parents would come to the school to ask how they can be involved with school rather than come to the school to ask about their children's performance." In brief, principals in distinguished schools do not want parents to make decisions for the schools even though some PTA members support their school financially and try to help the school activities. The principals just want suggestions and opinions to improve the school activities. Bringing Schools and Parents Together to Get Community Organizations' SuPJ?Ort No connection exists between schools and community organizations; however, all the principals of distinguished schools want the community organizations to be involved with school activities. DHGP said, "We beg our 73

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community organizations to help our school activities. They should help us," and DBEBP added, "I wish that we could have some organizations that are involved with our activities, but they are not aware of their roles, and they say the Ministry will help you." Another principal was not sure if they can ask the community organizations for help. "I would like to ask the community organizations to help the school, but I do not know if this is legal or not, and I am not sure if these organizations will respond to me," DUEGP said. These principals believe that parents could help the school in getting community organizations help through their personal communication and their positions in the community. DBEBP mentioned that ''we had parents who used their communication to help the school." However, some principals do not want to embarrass parents or themselves. As DHBP said, I do not embarrass them. Do you know why? Once, I had a PTA meeting, and we were discussing what we could do to prepare for the minister's visit. A father who has a failing son said that we support the school, and we provide the school with what it wants, but our children do not pass! I pretended that I did not hear anything because what he said was embarrassing. Parents and School Success These principals call for parents to be involved with school because they believe that parents play an important role in their success. DBEBP believes that parents played a role in making their schools successful. DMGP said, ''They worked in planning and organizing for the school activities." DUEGP stated that parents 74

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helped her school to be successful: ''They supported me financially, they gave me their suggestions because they believe in the school vision, and they adapt the school activities to develop the school and to improve students' level of achievement." DHGP added, "The parents play a big role in my school success. At least they care about their children. It means they take half the school responsibility from us ... The principals of distinguished schools believe that they can have more success if parents work with them. I want parents to follow their children's progress. The family now is different than before. The school is not the only educational institution any more. TV, radio, peers, and sometimes their roles are stronger than the school. Now even the restaurants compete with us. They sell children cassettes with their meals! I cannot follow children's progress out of the school unless the family builds a room for me to transfer from one family to another to check on their children's education. (DHBP) However, if parents cannot be involved with the school activities, they at least have to take care of their children at home. DBEBP wants parents ''to watch their children and take care of their behavior and their health." DUEGP said, Parents should teach their children things that we do not teach them here such as computers and give them extra activities that are different than what we have. I want parents to encourage their children to love the school and education. I want parents to be more affectionate with their children because they need a warm relationship with their parents to produce and to be successful. On the other hand, some principals believe that their school succeeded because the administration and teachers worked as a team to be successful. DUEGP said, "We-the administration, teachers, school guardians, students, and parents-work 75

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like a team to achieve the school goals." Other principals added other elements to their school success: I have good students and good teachers. My administration is good too. I have been managing this school for 14 years now, and I do not work with any teacher till I like him and he works with me according to my principles. The family plays an important role because the percentages of the students who succeed does not come because of us but because of the family too. Also, I have attractive programs to attract my students to the school. (DHBP) DHGP confessed by saying, ''To be honest with you, maybe the main reason are the teachers and the students, also the parents." Finally, DMGP said, My school is successful because of the administration. The way we deal with different people from parents to teachers, we work like a team. Also because of the high-achieving students, we participate in different competitions, and we got the first places in these competitions. The Principals of Regular Schools Five principals from high, middle, and elementary schools were interviewed. They included two high school principals, a male principal for a boys' school (RHBP) and a female principal for a girls school (RHGP). The middle school principal in this group was the female principal for a girls' school (RMGP). The two elementary principals include one female principal for a basic elementary school for boys (first to third grade), RBEBP, and one female or the upper elementary school for girls (fourth to sixth grade), RUEGP. The following section explains their views of the six types of parental involvement in the UAE schools. 76

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Parenting at Home The percentage of the students who are well cared for in regular schools differs from one school to another. For example, RHBP stated that all students are taken care of, but the degree is different from one family to another: ''There is no family that does not care about their children, but to what extent is different from one family to another. Some parents care daily about their children; others once a month ask what their children are doing." In the high school for girls, 600/o of the students are well cared for, RHGP said, and that number decreases to 10% who are well cared for in the middle school for girls, RMGP reported. However, the number of students who are cared for is highest in basic elementary school, at ''90%," RBEBP stated, and it is "70%" in the upper elementary school, RUEGP asserted. Being in the school is a sign of caring, according to RHGP: "Most parents care, and I can tell from parents who come to the school to ask about their children's grades or any problem that their children may face in the classroom." RHBP and RMGP agreed with RHGP that ''parents who visit the school and the level of the students' achievement are indicators of caring parents." RUEGP added other indicators: ''the students' appearance [if they are neat or not], their behavior, and their health." On the other hand, these principals disagree about the extent of their students' readiness to learn. RHBP believes that all of his students are ready to learn because 77

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"every morning, they wake up and they come to the school which means they are ready to learn." However, RHGP did not agree that coming to the school means that students are ready to learn. Their readiness depends on what section the students are in. For example, the science section is more motivated to learn than the art section; She said, "The students in the science section come prepared for their classes, and they take their teachers seriously, but students of the art section do not care about their subjects or their teachers' instructions." Teachers' complaints are considered by some principals a sign of the students' readiness to learn. RMGP noted that ''more than 50% of our students have low motivation to learn, and it is clear from teachers' complaints and students' levels of achievement." Although RHBP agreed on these indicators, RBEBP stated that most of her students come to the school ready to learn. She said, "Every day, they come to the school clean, and they have their bags." RUEGP indicated that from her visit to the classes, "Many of them react and work with their teachers." These schools have many students who come to the school sick. ..Every day, we take one student or more to the hospital," RUEGP mentioned. RMGP complained that she has many students who come to the school sick: I have many students who come to the school sick. A student came to me telling me, ''My mother is too busy to take me to the hospital." Daily, we take students to the hospital. I had a mother who came to me asking me where I was when her daughter got sick! Where was she when her daughter left home sick? RHBP justified this by saying, 78

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Some parents send their children to the school sick because they want the school to know what is going on with the student and to teach the student to respect the school and the system regardless of the students' sickness. These principals have many teachers who complain about students who do not do their homework. RUEGP said, "80% of teachers complain,'' and it is 30% in the high school for girls. But RBEBP does not suffer from a lot of teachers who complain about students who do not do their homework. For her, "It is a small percentage!' RMGP explained this difference in the percentage of the teachers who complain about the homework by saying, "It depends on the teachers. Some teachers do not complain, and they would rather try to solve it in the classroom ... RHBP agreed on this, saying "Not all of them complain because they try to solve it in the classroom ... In these schools, parents do not help their children at home because they could be illiterate, foreigners who do not speak Arabic well, busy with work, inattentive, or busy with small children. As RBEBP complained, "We have mothers who cannot read or write, and mothers who do not speak Arabic well." RUEGP added, "Some parents are busy, they do not care; some parents are illiterate; and many have small children at home." Therefore, these principals invite parents to the school to tell them how they should take care of their children, but not all of them show up, and most of those who show up have good students in the school. 79

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The problem is that mothers who have good students come to the school, but the mothers who have lower-achieving students do not come. If they come, it will be once, and then we will not see their faces again because we tell them, the levels of their daughters are weak. OK, come and put your hands on our hands and let's overcome this! (RMGP) In brief, the principals of high schools stated that it is hard to indicate the percentage of students who are cared for, but it is around 60 percent in the middle schools, and the percentage increases in the elementary school. Some principals asserted that being in the schools means that students are ready to learn. Other principals said that students' readiness depends on whether they enroll in science or art section in the high schools. Further, it is hard to use teachers' complaints as an indicator of students' readiness to learn because not all teachers complain as they would rather solve problems with their students in the classrooms. Communication Between School and Parents All these principals invite parents to the school. RHGP said, "We have an open invitation for parents to come any day, and they can ask about their children any time." They invite parents to the school by different means--letters, fax, and phone-according to RHBP. Often, the school social worker communicates with parents, as RUEGP stated. On the other hand, principals face some problems such as some students who give wrong numbers to them or some students who do not give their parents the letter. RMGP mentioned that "I'd send letters because some students do 80

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not have phones or some students give wrong numbers." RHGP added, "From my experience, letters do not reach parents." Principals try hard to reach parents, but the parents do not respond as the principals would prefer because they are illiterate, inattentive, working, or caring for small children at home. As RBEBP remarked, "We have mothers who cannot read or write, and mothers who do not speak Arabic well." Also, RUEGP said, "Some parents are busy, some are inattentive, some are illiterate, and some have small children at home." In sum, not all parents respond to the school communication because they are busy with their work, or they have their own problems. RMGP said, ''They are busy in their lives and their work, and some of them are indifferent. Others have low morals and do not care about their children's behavior. Also, some parents are foreigners, and others have social problems." Further, some parents are not aware of the importance of responding to the school communication. As the high school principal for girls said, ''Their awareness--they are concerned more with their business than what their daughters are doing in the school." In contacting parents, some principals, such as RHBP and RUEGP, prefer the phone, but some, such as RBEBP and RMGP, prefer meeting parents face to face. The latter said, "Meeting them face to face is the best way to communicate with them." Additionally, these principals encourage their teachers to communicate with 81

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parents ''through my meetings with teachers," as RHGP mentioned, or ''through the school social worker and my talking to them directly," as RBEBP noted. Involving Parents in Classroom and School Activities The principals of regular schools encourage parents to visit the classroom because the principals believe that parents' involvement in the classroom is beneficial for students and teachers. RUEGP said, "It will motivate students to do their best." However, it is rare that parents visit the classroom. "I like the idea, but we do not have parents who visit the classroom," as RHBP said. Another principal at the high school for girls said, "I encourage them if they are willing to visit and participate in the classroom." These principals believe that parents could help teachers in different ways. However, some see that at least visiting the classroom could help teachers: "At least by visiting the class, they can be involved by giving their experiences and their values," as RUEGP asserted and RHBP echoed. These principals expect teachers to like having parents in the classroom. "I think a lot of them will encourage this idea because I think it will encourage students to study more and work with teachers more," as RHGP said. RUEGP added, "Some teachers will support the idea because it will save time and effort for them. Some will reject it because they do not trust parents' abilities to help them, aR they will worry that parents will intrude on their work." 82

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However, the number of times parents visit the school differs from one school to another. For example, RBEBP said, "Usually three times a year for the PTA meetings, and some parents visit the school more than that." RHGP said, "Some parents always are in the schools; others do not come at all. Some come just to ask about their daughters' scores." Therefore, RMGP said, ''They should visit the school once a month or once in two weeks, but if we see them once or twice a year it is a gift." These principals need parents desperately, but their involvement in the reality is rare. "I want them to be involved in everything," said RHGP, and RMGP said, "We do activities to attract them, but they do not attend." The principals of regular schools suggested different ways to involve parents such as visiting, providing financial support, planning, and organizing. RUEGP stated that "Attending, supplying financial support, bringing things from home, and planning and organizing the school activities could help us," and RHBP said, "I wish parents could give lectures to students." However, these principals find excuses for parents not to be involved in their children's education whether at home or at the school. For example, the way they have been treated in the school is not favorable for most of them. "Many teachers, could be some of my teachers, when they meet parents start telling them how bad their daughters are without a good introduction or even starting with good things. Other teachers talk loudly with parents about their daughter which embarrasses 83

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them," RHGP reasoned. Some parents are "busy with their work or with their home," according to RMGP. Other parents are not attracted to the school activities. "Maybe they do not like to participate because they think they are wasting their time without benefit," RUEGP thought. Overall, the principals of regular schools stated that it is rare to have parents who visit their classrooms even though these principals would like to have parents active in classrooms. Not only are parents not involved in classrooms, but also few parents attend school activities. Helping Children with Learning at Home Not many parents come to the school to find out how they could help their children in their subjects or even their activities. RBEBP said, ''Not many. They care to ask after the results of their children's exams." These parents usually are welleducated parents. As RHGP mentioned, "It is rare to have parents who ask how they can help their children at home, and most of who care are well educated." However, RHBP said that he has many parents who care: "30 % of the parents come or call to know how they can help their children." Involving Parents in Decision Making All these schools have PTAs, and the number of parents involved ranges from six to thirteen. The main function for the PTA is giving suggestions to improve the 84

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school activities and the school achievement. RBEBP commented that ''they do not have a big influence on the school. They help in our activities by their suggestions." However, RHGP complained that her PTA is negative. She said, "My PTA is useless. I have mothers who work and cannot participate and mothers who cannot read or write." These principals believe that the PTA is important; as RUEGP said, ''They connect us to all parents." Even so, some principals wish that parents could be more effective than they are. "They should sit with us to set a strategic plan to serve students and the school performance. We want their opinions to improve the school," RMGP asserted. RHGP agreed on that by saying, "We are supposed to involve them in the school plans." Further, RHBP dreams that parents solve all the school problems: "I want them to solve all the school problems and have more hand in the school." All these principals attend the PTA meetings; however, some may not attend all of the meetings, such as principals of elementary schools. Even so, they dream of an effective PTA. "I want them to have an effective role, to communicate with the community to talk about our activities and projects," RUEGP said. The principal for the high school for girls added, "I want them to help me in improving the school in all areas whether cultural, academic, or social. I want them to communicate with the community to support the school." 85

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In sum, the principals asserted that parents do not make decisions for their schools. If parents participated in the PTA, they just gave suggestions. However, some principals want parents to be more effective than just giving suggestions. Bringing School and Parents Together to Get Community All these principals wish that the community organizations were involved in their schools, and they believe that parents could be helpful in connecting them to these organizations. RHBP said, "Parents can take the school projects to some of the organizations to get their support." And RBEBP added that they can do that "through their personal communication. They can ask these organizations to help us in teaching and doing activities." In particular, "some parents have high positions in the government who could facilitate our communication and support our programs," as RHGP commented. Overall, the principals of regular schools believe that parental involvement in school is very important for students' achievement. RBEBP asserted that it is "very important. When the students see their parents in the school, they try to do their best and to be up to their expectations." RHGP said, it is "very important because the school cannot do its job without the cooperation with the home; the family's job completes our job." Last but not least, RHBP stated, it is ''very important to have parents in the school because students accept the solutions from parents more than if they come from us as the school." 86

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However, these principals admitted that they face some obstacles that make their effort to involve parents in the school less effective than they wish. RHBP said, "Some parents are illiterate, and others are busy with their work." Some parents are indifferent. RMGP asserted that "If they respond to us, the school will be different. Once, I asked a student to remove her nail polish. On the second day, her mother came to me, yelling at me and threatening to complain about me to the ministry." Parents and School Success Most of these principals credit their school success to the administration's, teachers', and students' effort. RUEGP remarked that "the administration, teachers, and students work as a team and one family," and RMGP supported her that by saying, "If my school is successful, it is because ofteachers' effort and working with them." RHGP said, "First of all to my teachers' effort, second to the types of students that we have with encouragement from me." Summary Overall, principals stated that parents could be more involved at home with their children's education. However, most of parents do not respond to school communications, and few of them initiate communication with the school. Also, parents do not get involved in classroom activities. Further, most parents participate 87

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in school activities by attending, but those who are involved in school activities by organizing or planning usually are members of the PTA. Few parents ask principals how they can help their children at home. In general, parents' role in schools does not involve making polices or trying to connect schools with community organizations. 88

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CHAPTER FIVE THE TEACHERS' STORY This chapter embodies teachers' views about the six types of parental involvement that their schools have. Initially, views of teachers from distinguished schools are presented, and then views of teachers from regular schools are addressed. The Teachers of Distinguished Schools I interviewed fifteen teachers from high, middle, and elementary schools. Twelve female teachers came from the UAE, but DUEGT3 was from Jordan, had a diploma, and had 20 years of experience. The UAE female teachers' age ranged from 25 to 37, and their experiences ranged from 3 to 12 years. All of them had bachelor's degrees except DUEGTl who had a diploma. Also, I interviewed three teachers from the high school for boys, DHBTl and DHBT2 who were from Syria and DHBT3 who were from Iraq. Their ages ranged from 45 to 52, and their experience ranged from 18 to 28 years. All of them had bachelor's degrees except DHBT2 who had a Master's degree. The following sections present their views of the six types of parental involvement. 89

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Parenting at Home Most of the teachers in distinguished schools reported that most of the students have been taken care of at home regarding watching students' attendance, homework, and health. Teachers in all distinguished schools reported little absenteeism in their classes. For example, DHGT3 reported, "I do not have a high percentage of absenteeism in my classes. Maybe once a week and for an excuse because I teach science classes and they are good students." DHBT added, "Less or equal to three percent are absent from my classes. However, since we began the school, most of the time the attendance is 100 percent." When I asked teachers about the percentage of students who come to the class with finished homework, teachers reported above 70 percent of their students come to the school with finished homework. Most of the elementary students do their homework, 90 percent and above; DUEGT2 said, "99 percent and sometimes 100 percent." DHGT3 reported that 60 percent come to the school with finished homework. Moreover, most students come to the school healthy, as most of the teachers report. For example, DHGT3 said, it is "rare" to have sick students in the school, and DUEGT2 said, "Sometimes, I have one percent or two percent." In sum, teachers in distinguished schools reported that their students have been taken care of in terms of their attendance and their health. Also, teachers reported that most of the students do their homework. 90

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Communication Between School and Parents Usually, the formal communication between the school and parents comes from the school social worker as one of her or his responsibilities. "The social worker communicates with parents. However, I try to solve my class problems by myself without the administration's involvement" (DHGT3). All the teachers at the boys high school said that they do not contact parents directly. For example, DUBTl reported, "The principal and the social worker contact parents. It is impossible to contact parents directly" because the principal did not encourage that. When I asked DHBTl whether the principal encourages him to contact parents, he answered, ''Never." DHBT3 agreed, saying that "we do not communicate with parents and the administration does that." However, DHBT2 answered by saying, "He hints for that in our meetings." Perhaps suggesting that the principal would like some support but was not ready to propose a policy. The school communicates with parents through letters and phone calls or at PTA meetings. DHGT3 said, "I give the students letters for their parents, and I call them to make sure that the parents read them. Sometimes, I find some parents in the school on the next day." And DMGTl added, "Sometimes, I send letters through the school social worker, or I call them personally." When some teachers call parents in these schools, usually they call them about their children's achievement level, absenteeism, school activities, or behavior 91

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problems. DHGT3 said, "When their children are absent regularly from my classes, and I know that they are in the school, I feel that the administration should know because they are not absent because of me, but because they do not care." DHGT2 reported, "I call parents because of their children's achievement, their behavior. Usually I can handle it. When I threaten them that I will tell their parents, students start improving their level of achievement." DMGTl added that "I contact parents because of the student's achievement, their non-involvement in the class, their misbehavior, and their absenteeism for no clear reasons." Also, DBEBT2 mentioned that she calls "if I feel that the level of the student achievement has changed or if the student is absent for more than one day." Further, parents' reactions to communication varies between cooperation and inattention. However, most of the parents are cooperative. Parents are very positive. They try to help their daughters. Usually, they are shocked when they learn about their children's achievement because they say that their daughters do not get out of the home, and they provide them with everything to get good scores. Also, parents see that their daughters are opening the book all the time. They ask how come the scores are low. Then I tell them you have to notice if they are studying really or they are just watching the book. (DHGT2) Some teachers keep in touch with some parents because they have special relationships with students. I have a special interest in some students, so I call their parents. Some girls do not inform their parents about what is happening for them in the school, so when I call their parents, I feel that their parents welcome my communication. (DHGT3) 92

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Some teachers reported that most of the parents who contact them are happy to call them. DHBT2 asserted that "They are very glad that we call them, and they try to work out the student's problem. We feel improvement in the student after we talk with his parents." Some parents ask teachers to keep in touch with them. As DBEBT3 said, ''They are very happy when I call them, and they ask me to call them always to tell them about their children's progress." However, it is rare that parents contact teachers, and mostly caring parents of elementary students call or visit. DBEBT2 asserted that the mothers who care about their children are usually the ones who contact the school, "especially mothers of good students," and most of the time about test results. DHBTI said that some parents contact him to "ask about their children, if they passed or failed, or about their grades." Also, some parents call teachers to see when they will stop punishing their children. According to DMGTI, they want ''to know why I am punishing their daughters and until when." Some parents call teachers to learn what teachers want for their children for their activities. DBEBTI reported that ''they want to know what the level of their children's achievement is or what we want from their children for certain activities such as a party." DHGT3 stated that parents come to the school when it is necessary. It happened that one of my students does not like music, and I used music in my lesson. The student left the class without an excuse which made me ask her not to enter the class again without her parents. Her father came and explained her problem to me saying that even if they are in a public place, she will put her hands on her ears which brings others' attention to them. I told him, I will take care of that. I am not against her idea about the 93

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music but against her behavior, so I started talking with her, and with time she start changing her behavior, and her father came twice to me to thank me. Some parents could call teachers to ask them to tutor their children, as DHBTJ remarked: Some parents contacted me twice. In one case, the parent wanted private lessons for his son, and I told him just let him attend my morning classes. Usually, I give them extra classes early in the morning, and your son is my son. In the other case, the parent called to apologize for his son's behavior. The communication between teachers and parents, as teachers indicated, usually is from one side, the school. Few teachers contact parents, and communication is usually through the school social worker using letters and the phone. Usually, teachers communicate with parents to report low student achievement or student misbehavior. It is rare that parents call teachers to find out how they can help their children. Involving Parents in Classroom and School Activities It is not common in the UAE schools for parents to participate in the classroom. However, some teachers have different views about letting parents participate in the classroom. Most of these teachers wish that parents could be involved with them in the classroom, such as DHGTJ who stated that ''parents do not attend my classroom, but personally I wish that they would get involved in classroom activities under my direction because not all parents are able to participate in the 94

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classroom." DHGTJ suggested that parents could help in the classroom indirectly at home: "Indirectly, they help their children with different activities. For example, a mother made a board made of raw materials with her daughter, and it was a beautiful work.'' Many teachers call parents to visit the classroom with them because they know that it is beneficial for them and for the students. They can attend the class and watch their daughter's participation to know where their daughter's weaknesses are. Also, parents will be supportive to me when they see my effort in the classroom. They can give me some suggestions to improve my teaching. (DUEGT2) DHGTJ reported that "parents would know their children's level of achievement and how much effort we give to the class. Parents' attendance would motivate their children to do their best." On the other hand, some teachers do not like parents to be in the classroom because it is uncomfortable for them. DHGTJ said. "I do not want the parents to help in the classroom; I think it means that they do not trust my ability as a teacher." DHBTI added, "I do not want their attendance in the class. They can participate at home with their children and help them with their assignments." Other teachers opened the door for some parents to be involved. These parents should be well educated, The parents cannot interfere with the academic side, but if he is well educated, I can let him talk about something that is related to his experience. However, I prefer parents who give general advice to students regarding the values. (DHBT2) 95

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Other teachers prefer that parents be involved with their children at home rather than in the classroom. DMGTl remarked, "I think if they study and work with their children at home, it would be better. They can just visit the classroom." Further, it is not just rare to have parents in the classroom, but also few parents attend the school activities. Most of the teachers reported a smatl percentage of parents who attend the school activities. DHGT3 reported that "if parents are invited, approximately 50% come." DHBTl reported that parents' attendance is "20%," white DMGT3 said that they have "60% or 70%" who visit school activities. However, the percentage is higher in the upper elementary school because the principal provides transportation for parents. DUEGT3 estimates attendance "above 60%. Our principal sends a bus to get all the parents who want to come to the school." Some parents are involved with school activities. DHGT2 reported that ''when we have activities, some of them participate in organizing activities, and others bring some food.'' DHBT2 said, "Some of them supported the school financially, like building the school mosque and providing the library with books." Others give lectures, as DHBT3 said, "especially those who are from the university or police." However, some teachers, such as DHBTl, reported that parents usually do not participate in the school activities. When I asked why many parents do not participate in the school or the classroom activities, teachers offered different reasons. Some related to the school, 96

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such as the school does not tell parents what is required of them. "It could be the school does not give parents the chance to participate, and they do not give them certain roles" (DHGT3). Or parents do not feel welcome at the school. For example, DUEGT3 reported that "some parents do not participate because they feel that the school does not welcome their participation: DBEBT3 added, "Parents do not like to be in the school because of the way teachers deal with them, the way they talk to them, if the teachers welcome parents or not." However, most of the teachers said many parents do not participate because of the parents' characteristics: being indifferent, uneducated, unaware of the importance of parental participation, or having conflicting job hours or small children. For example, DHGT3 said, ''They are busy, and many are uneducated. They do not look at school involvement as an important thing to do." As DHBTl asserted that ''they are busy with their work. Also the school limits parents' participation." DHGT2 added that "mothers who have many and small children at home cannot visit the school." DMGT3 suggested that, ''they do not know the importance of their participation." DUEGTl mentioned that "if the mother is working, it will be hard for her to come to the school, and other parents who are illiterate do not know how they can help." Finally, some parents do not get invitation letters that are sent home from their children. DHGT2 remarked that ''maybe they do not know about what we have in our 97

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school because when we send letters for the parents, the students do not give them to their parents." Overall, parents' participation in the classroom is rare, and it generally is limited to school activities. It could be because parents are not aware of the importance of their participation are uneducated or busy or because the school does not specify parents' roles or give them the warm welcome that they want. Helping Children with Learning at Home Few parents call teachers to learn how they can help their children. DHGT3 said, "It does not happen," and DHGT3 mentioned that "never, the homework I give does not require the student to go back to her parents and ask them for help. I help her to be independent." DHBT2 asserted that he does not call parents because "some parents use private tutors to help their children." However, some parents contact teachers when they are in the school. DMGT3 said, "Some parents, when they visit the school, ask me how they can help their children in studying a subject." Also, DUEGT3 said, "Some parents, like maybe five mothers a year, call to ask how they can solve a homework problem." Apparently elementary student parents are more likely to call teachers. The number of parents who call teachers to find out how they can help their children seems to decrease, from elementary to middle to high school. 98

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Involving Parents in Decision Making Most of the teachers do not know how many parents participate in the PTA. DMGT3 said, "I do not know exactly how many they are. The school social worker knows better." However, DHGT3 added, "From every class, there are three mothers who participate in PTA, and then from this number, the administration selects some mothers who always work with them." DHGT3 said, "I do not notice that. I do not know anything about them; I hear about it, but I did not attend anything like that." The role of most parents in the PTA is to give suggestions regarding school activities and raising the students' achievement. For example, DHGT2 said, "They discuss students' level of achievement to improve it." And DHGT3 asserted, This association works to improve the school perfonnance. The administration listens to parents' views on students' and teachers' behavior. After that, the administration studies parents' views to see what they can do about it with teachers or students. However, DHBTl stated that parents could "affect the school indirectly. Their opinions, for example, are taken in the 2020 vision for the education in the U AE. When they get together and agree on something. they can influence the Ministry's decisions." Most teachers want parents to be more involved as decision makers but only on how to improve students' achievement. DHBTl said, "In any decision in which they can influence their children's education, parents know what is good or bad for 99

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their children." DBEBT3 added that she wants parents to give "suggestions related to what we could offer their children, and how we can deal with them because they know their children better than we do." Further, DMGTl wants parents to take "decisions regarding punishing the students. I would like them to be more serious about that and also encouraging talented students." According to DHBT3, parents could help with students' problems with the administration and school activities. Honestly, most of the decisions are ink on the paper. There is no serious follow up. The PTA could take decisions locally with the administration such as providing some needy students money monthly or responding to some critiques of teaching methods; and the decisions do not reach the level of changing curriculum. The PTA works to solve social problems inside the school walls. Other teachers want parents to take care of their children at home, and this is a big decision. As DBEBTl said, ''They cannot make decisions regarding teaching or the school because they have no experience, and we know better than them in this area. We want them to work with their children at home." DBEBT2 added, "We want them to decide to help their children at home." However, most teachers think that parents are able to make decisions for school if they are well educated and have good experience, though DBEBTl observed that ''Not all of them because most of the mothers here are not well educated." And DHGT3 said, ''The mother has the student, and she knows how this student acts and behaves so she can give us more information to make decisions." Also, DHGT2 asserted that ''there are some parents who are well educated, and their 100

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children tell them what is going on in the school which could help them to make decisions." In sum, parents do not make decisions for their schools; they just give suggestions. Most teachers prefer parents to give suggestions to improve school activities and student achievement because making decisions is the responsibility of the school administration and the Ministry of Education. Teachers believe that most parents are not qualified to make decisions for their schools because they are not educated well or not in the field of education. Several teachers would prefer that parents help their children at home. Others think that parents are able to make decisions about students' needs and problems because they know their children better than the school does. Bringing Schools and Parents Together to Get Community Organizations' Support Most of the teachers do not know if their schools have been helped by community organizations. For example, DHGT3 said, "I do not know; this question should be asked of the administration." Other teachers know if their schools have been helped, and DHGT2 stated, "We had some lecturers from Zayed University, the policy, Marriage Box." DHBT3 added, "Banks sent the outstanding students to the west, England, to learn English, and other organizations gave lectures to the students." 101

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Some teachers suggested that the community could help with the school activities in different ways. For example, DHBTl stated, "Media, through the TV and the newspaper, can advertise our activities. Also, some libraries and manufactures could provide rich experiences for our students." Some teachers asserted that the school gets financial support from some people in the community. DUEGTl said, "We have some people who donate money to school activities, but there is no organization that supports us." When I asked teachers how parents could coMect the school to the community organizations, most of them said that parents could use their personal communication to support the school: "Parents could use their communication to facilitate the connection between the school and community organizations to bring the media, facilitate some field trips to some businesses or organizations" (DHGT3). DHBTJ added, "Many parents could contact community organizations to get support. However, some organizations would not respond until they find that they have interest with this school." DMGTl commented further that ''they can call them and talk about the school plans and activities that need support." And DUEGTJ said, "Parents could advertise our activities and encourage others to help us." Some teachers believe that support of community organizations is important because the Ministry does not satisfy the schools' ambitions to provide students with rich experience. 102

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First of all money, the money from Ministry of Education is not enough for all the school activities. We try to ask some rich people to help us with our activities, and we invite them and show these people what plans we have, and we try to get their support. (DHGT3) Some teachers reported that community organizations could help schools in different ways. DHGT3 asserted that they could help by "funding our activities and buying computers, tables, chairs, and books because the Ministry still cannot provide us with everything if we want our school to be distinguished." The community organizations' presence in the school is important, as DHGT2 said, "including at least their attendance at the school because our students will be their employees in the future. We need to know what the society needs to help the students to select their majors." Further, parents could support the school financially. As DHBTl reported: "They can do a lot. Some parents here in the school built a mosque which cost hundred of thousands of Durham, and others also participated in building the library." The schools have different activities and projects. For example, the theater plays an important role in the student's academic life. I remember when I was young, I watched a play that changed my life and still affects it today. So I wish parents could build a theater in the school and support its activities. (DHBT2) Some teachers want community organizations to train them and provide them with new equipment. DMGTl asserted that "I want them to train us to use PowerPoint and other techniques that help us with teaching and also provide us with the necessary equipment and programs to do that." Moreover, DUEGTl said that 103

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they could help "by giving us recent infonnation on technology and providing us with some equipment that we cannot have or anything that could serve our activities." Few teachers want community organizations to maintain their schools: "I wish all of them to help our activities and to cover the school maintenance" (DBEBT). In general, all teachers believe that parents could help them get community organizations to help with the school budget, which is not enough for all of the school activities that are preferred. Parents could use their personal communications to advertise for the school activities. Teachers also believe that community organizations could provide the school with recent infonnation and technology and train them and their students. The Teachers of Regular Schools. At the regular schools, I interviewed thirteen female teachers, nine from UAE, RHGT3 and RMGT3 from Egypt, and RUEGTl from Jordan. Also, I interviewed three male teachers from the high school for boys, RHBTl from Syria, RHBT2 from Egypt, and RHBT3 from Palestine. UAE female teachers' experience ranged from 2 to 13 years, while the other teachers' experience ranged from 13 to 35. All teachers had bachelor's degrees except RHBT3 and RMGTI who had licenses and RUEGT2 and RUEGTl who had diplomas. The following sections discuss these teachers' views about the six types of parental involvement. 104

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Parenting at Home Absenteeism from class is different from one class to another and even from one school to another, and not many students usually are absent as these teachers say. RHBTl reported that ''not many, sometimes one or none at all." RUEGT2 asserted that ''not many, one or two students. I have a student who is always absent, and I have some students who, even if they are sick, come to the school." Regarding homework, a teacher from the high school for girls reported that not many students do their homework. ''Thirty percent of the students do their homework seriously. Others come in the morning and copy the assignment" (RHGT3). However, RHGT2 asserted that the science students are more serious than the art students. "It various from class to class; the percentage reaches 90% for the science section and 1 00/o for the art section." Another teacher said that doing homework depends more on the teacher and how the teacher deals with students. RMGT3 said, "In the beginning of the year, it is 70% until they get to know me, and then it gets to 90% to 95%." Further, most of the teachers reported that they do not have a lot of students who come to school sick. RHGT3 mentioned that it is ''rare; however, sometimes I can have one to two." Other students, if they are sick, do not come to the school. As RHBT3 said, ''Usually they do not come to the school if they are really sick." 105

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In brief, teachers reported that few students are absent from school, and that most students do their homework. In high schools, science students are reported to be more serious in doing their homework than art students, and this depends some time on the teacher's personality. Further, all teachers reported that very few students come to the school sick or seem to have health problems. Communication Between School and Parents Most of the communication between schools and parents occurs through school social workers and the administration. RHGT3 reported, "I like to contact parents through the school administration and the school social worker because it is better that the administration knows what is going on and the invitation will be more formal." This is what RHBT 1 confirmed: "I do not call parents. The administration calls them." However, teachers do call parents if the parent do not respond to the school social worker. As RUEGT2 said, "First I ask the school social worker to call parents. Then, if she does not get the response that I want, I call them often from school or home." Other teachers communicate with parents through PTA meetings. RHGT3 asserted that "I meet parents in the PTA meetings, but unfortunately not all mothers come." Some schools do not allow teachers to contact parents directly. RHBT2 reported that "I contact the parents through one of the school committees; and there is no direct contact between the teacher and parents" to avoid any misunderstanding 106

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between teachers and parents. RHBTJ said, "I do not like to contact them directly so they do not interpret my communication to mean that I want to tutor their child." Other teachers communicate through notes that they write on test papers for parents. RBEBTJ said, "I call them, or I write to them on the students' exam paper or their books." For the most part, teachers contact parents regarding students' low achievement or students' behavior. For example, RHGTJ said that she calls parents "if a student keeps being absent or misbehaves with me or with other students." RHGT2 said, "I contact parents who want to know their daughter's progress." Also, RHGTJ mentioned that he contacts parents when we have a problem with students that we cannot solve. Lately, we had to call parents to work with their daughter. Their daughter causes trouble for her classmates, and she doesn't focus on the classroom. We could not solve the problem completely, but at least she does not cause trouble for her classmates. RUEGT2 stated that they call parents "if the student is inattentive, does not do her homework, does not take care of her appearance or her books, or does not do well on her test or because of her behavior with her classmates or with me." Other teachers care about what could affect the students' achievement at home. RUEGT3 commented that it is important "to know what is going on at home that affects a students' achievement." Parents respond differently to teachers' communication. Some parents who have high-achieving students care, and others who think it is the school's 107

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responsibility to handle all the students' problems ignore school communications. RHBTl remarked that, ''when I call parents about their children, some fathers respond immediately and stand by my side against their sons." And this is what RMGT3 said, "Some parents make me embanassed because of their kindness, and some of them blame the teacher." And other teachers feel that the students have changed after they contacted their parents. RUEGT2 said, "They are very positive, and I notice that of students' behaviors have changed because of my communication with their families." Some teachers feel that some parents are ignorant. For example, RHGT3 reported that "their responses are very weak. Mothers who have high achieving students come to PTA meetings." And some parents think that they have nothing to do with the school. As RHBT2 stated, "Most parents respond positively to my communication, and others throw the whole responsibility to us." Also, RUEGTl said that only a "few parents respond to me, especially if I insist on communicating with them." In fact, some teachers prefer that parents contact them instead of going to the school social worker or to the administration because they are closer to their students than the school social worker is. RHBT3 remarked, "I prefer, when parents come to the school to ask about their sons, that they talk to me because I know their sons better than the school social worker who just has a record about their grades." 108

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Few parents call teachers to learn their children's scores or to check on their homework or serious problems. Some parents call teachers in case their children are absent or late. RHGTJ reported that a few parents call in case their student came late to the class or was absent." Also, RHGTJ said, "Parents call if there is a big problem. And RUEGTl said that they call"to ask me what their daughters are doing in the class. A mother called me to solve her daughter's problem with other girls. Sometimes, some parents send a note to me thanking me for talking about some values in the class." Further, RUEGT3 reported that parents call "usually about a grade on a test and before the final exams to ask how they can help their children." RBEBTl asserted that parents call when they want to know about their children's scores, or when the student has some special circumstances and needs me to take care of him in the class. They call to give excuses for the absence of their children. Some mothers call to tell me that they were busy and they could not help their children. They want me to be easy on their children. In general, the schools try to communicate with parents, but few parents respond because they are busy with their work or they ignore the school's communications. It is more common that the school contacts parents, but a few parents call the school or teachers to see what they can offer the school or how they can help their children. 109

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Involving Parents in Classroom and School Activities In UAE schools, it is rare to fmd parents attending classroom activities as most of the teachers reported. For example, RHBT3 said, ''Never." Maybe some teachers invite them, and it is usually for an exemplary lesson. RBEBTI mentioned, ''They do not generally attend, just if I have an exemplary lesson or they want to see what their children are doing." Some parents ask teachers to see their children in the classroom. RBEBTJ said that it is ''rare, and usually because the mother wants to see how her child acts and participates in the classroom." Some teachers believe that it is not important to involve parents in the classroom because they cannot help in the classroom unless they have expertise. I do not feel that is important for the father to attend the class and to participate in the class because the father does not know how to help me, and he will be shy. But if his occupation is related to the lesson, it will be useful. However, I do not think the parents would participate. (RHBTl) And this is what RHGT3 asserted: "If the mother is well educated and has something to offer, I will be glad to have her in my class." Further, RHBT3 mentioned that "some experienced parents or parents well educated in certain subjects can give lectures such as doctors." Other teachers prefer parents to help in the classroom indirectly by helping their children with their activities. For example, RUEGTI asserted that parents could 110

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help "indirectly through their children's activities, especially parents who are educated." RBEBT3 said, They help with educational aid. They prepare anything we need them to do. Also they send messages with their children asking us if we want anything. They are ready to help. Sometimes, parents bring all the materials for our experiment in the classrooms. Some teachers consider that teaching children how to behave with others helps in the classroom. RMGT3 asserted that parents could participate in the classroom ''by teaching their children how to respect others." Some teachers want parents to be more effective in the classrooms because they think it is beneficial to them and their students. RUEGT3 remarked, "I like the idea, and I am thinking about inviting some parents to my classes to encourage their children to do their best." Also, RHGT3 added, "I do not want parents to help with the subjeci. i just want them to evaluate me, telling me if my students can benefit from me or not, and how I could be better." Some teachers mentioned that parents' attending the class is sufficient. RBEBT2 said, "Just attending the class to see what their children are doing in the class and how they are participating in the class is enough." It is rare for parents to visit classroom activities, but a few parents visit school activities either, as teachers noted. However, teachers could not give any exact numbers or percentages of parents who visit their school. RHGT2 said it was maybe "30% or 40%"; however, RHGT3 stated, "It depends on the occasions. Sometimes we 111

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have 10%, and sometimes we have 99%, especially when we honor the highachieving students." RHBTl added, "I do not know exactly how many parents attend but usually 20%." Most parents who attend school activities have students who are doing well in the school. RMGT2 asserted that "It is just the mothers of good students attend school activities... Also, the kind of activity plays a role in the number of the parents who attend. RUEGTl said, "If there is a lecture, 50% would attend, but if it is a celebration, 95% of the parents would attend." RUEGT2 mentioned that "if it is a big celebration like Independence Day, many mothers would attend." Another factor that could increase the parents' attendance is the educational level of parents. For example, RBEBTl said, "We are in an educated area so the percentage of attendance is high and [often] reaches 85%." Parents' participation in school activities, as teachers reported, is limited. RHBTl said, "It is good if they attend." Yet, many teachers want parents to be active in school activities. RMGTl remarked, "Frankly we would be happy to have parents who are willing to participate in our activities." RHGT3 said, "I wish they could give us money or material to do our activities; other than that, they cannot do anything because planning for the activities needs time and effort." RBEBT3 suggested that ''parents can bring some material for our activities, and also they can provide us with hand-made stuff." 112

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Teachers reported some reasons that stop parents from being involved such as lacking time, education, and concern or being foreigners. In addition, RHGT3 mentioned that "some mothers have their personal reasons that keep them from being involved in the school activities such as many small children or work or the long distance between home and school." Parents' characteristics can affect their involvement. Numerous parents are indifference, RHBTl stated, "Many parents do not care, and they throw the whole responsibility to the school." The level of education and economic status of parents can hinder parents from being involved in the school. RMGT2 reported that ''this area has many low economic status people and has many social problems such as foreign mothers who do not speak Arabic well or mothers who do not know how to read and write or some mothers have eight and ten children at home." RUEGT2 stated that "there is a long distance between the home and the school. Some mothers have small children, and some mothers are working," and many parents are not aware of the need for their participation. There is not enough awareness of the importance of parents' participation in the school. Some parents think that their roles are just to send their children to school, and it is the school's job to teach them. These parents do not ask what their children are taking! Or what problems their children are facing. If the student felt that her parents followed her in school and her parents were serious about her education, she would do her best to be a high-achieving student. (RMGT3) Moreover, some parents care more about their social life than their children's education. RUEGT3 related that "some parents are not aware of the importance of 113

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education. Some parents, even if they are educated, do not care about the school. They care about how they look and their social life." On the other hand, the school may not know how to attract parents, and to tell them what is required from them. Teachers indicated that their schools do not specify how they want parents to participate in their activities. RHGT3 stated, "We did not suggest to them how they can help us. Also, they are indifferent, why they do not come and ask us what we want." The school does not attract parents enough to be participants in the school activities: "I think the main reason is that we do not encourage them to do that" (RMGTl). In sum, it is not common in the UAE schools to have parents active in classrooms. However, some teachers want parents to be more obvious in classrooms and to advise them. Several teachers think that it is important for parents to visit the classroom to see how their children work in the classroom. Other teachers want parents to help in the classroom indirectly by assisting their children at home by studying with them and helping them with their activities. Few teachers want parents to help in the classroom by teaching their children how to behave politely in the classroom with the teacher and their classmates. Helping Children with Learning at Home It is rare that parents contact teachers to find out how they can help their children. RMGTI stated that "several parents call to see how they can help their 114

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children with their assignments." Also, RMGTJ mentioned that it is the ''parents of the good students who ask me how they can help their children." And this is what RBEBTI said: Few parents call me and usually those have high-achieving students. Some parents call me if their children do not know how they could do the assignment. Some parents have a tutor to help them in teaching their children so they do not contact me. At the elementary level, parents care more, particularly if it is the parents' first child. RBEBTJ said, "Yes, especially those who have the first child enter the school, and they want to know how they can help him at home." On the other hand, parents of high school students usually do not contact teachers to know how to help their children because in the most cases these students are more independent. As RHGT2 mentioned, "Some students who care about their scores contact me, but not parents because they see their children are old enough to take care of themselves." Few parents contact teachers to find out how they can help their children, and these are mostly parents who have elementary students. The students in the high school depend on themselves. Further, some parents have tutors who help their children at home. Involving Parents in Decision Making Not many parents participate in PTA, but many teachers do not know the exact number who do, and other teachers are not involved with parents in the PTA 115

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meetings. RHGn stated, "Few mothers [participate], maybe 300/o or 20% of the mothers." RHBTI asserted that a "small percentage, 30 or 40 parents participate." RMGTl said, "50 or 60% but [only those] parents who have high-achieving students." RMGT3 asserted, "I did not attend any PTA meetings, so I do not know how many there are." RBEBT3 said that the numbers included "from each class one parent, as far as I know." Also, RUEGT2 mentioned, "I do not know exactly how many, but they might be 10 or 15 parents." Most teachers are not sure how the PTA operates. In most cases, teachers consider the PTA a communication tool to tell parents what the school wants them to do. RHGT3 said, ''They do not make any decisions. We give guidance how to help their daughters and prepare them for exams." RBEBTl reported, "We do not need them to make any decision because their decisions will be not neutral. They would think of their child's interest not others' interest." Basically, the role of the PTA ir. the school is to give guidance and advice to parents on how they can help their children at home. RHGT3 stated, "We advise mothers to take care of their children and follow their progress and watch their behavior." And RHGT2 asserted, "We give the mothers guidance and advise them how to help their daughter and take care of them." RHBT2 added, ''The PTA follows the students' problems whether academically or behavior. They try to help in the school activities." Few teachers see that the PTA is not effective, and the administration does everything for the school. RHBT 1 asserted the PTA is ''not 116

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effective." And RMGT2 stated that "I do not know; honestly, I see the principal as the administrator and 'the mother', she does everything." However, some teachers asserted that PTA members participate in the school activities. RBEBTI mentioned that "they influence school activities by advertising for school activities or bringing materials that the school needs for these activities." However, teachers want parents just to participate in the school activities, support them financially, and solve the students' problems with them. RHGT3 asserted that she wants from parents "any suggestion to improve the work at the school and improve the students' achievement." Further, RHGT2 asserted that "students spend half of the day with us, and they spend the rest with their families, and they spend the vacations with them. I give them values and concepts, but how it works and applies is the family's job." Few teachers want parents to be more involved and active even in the curriculum. RHBT2 said, "I want them to take care of their children at home and participate in developing the curriculum." Further, RHBT3 said, I want them to make decisions in everything, not just sending their sons to the school. They can make changes if they want. They can meet and discuss what should be done and then send it the Ministry. I think the Ministry will respond to them, especially if the Ministry sees that many parents agree on things. Parents can give suggestions to improve school activities and solve some of the students' problems. Also, parents could advertise for school activities and bring some materials. However, some teachers want parents to be more active and criticize 117

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the curriculum. Several teachers think that parents are able to make decisions for the school: Parents can make decisions for the school because they know what their children need; besides, they care about their children's achievement" (RBEBT2). However, some teachers think that parents are too busy to do that or that they are not qualified to make decisions. RHGT3 reported that ''there is a big gap between the family and the school. Parents do not make time for their children's school. We ask parents to come to the school, but nobody comes and responds to us." RHBTl mentioned that "they cannot because they are busy with their work, and they give the school the whole responsibility." RHGT3 stated, "If the parents are well educated, they can make decisions for the school. When parents make the decisions, they accept more and work based on them." And RHBT2 asserted that "I do not think parents can make decisions because they are not involved in the school and do not know what is going on in the school. They have to have good experiences in education." And this what RUEGT3 confinned: "Not decisions but suggestions because it is hard to make decisions in educational matters if parents are not experienced or educated." RBEBT3 said, "If the parent is well educated or has a high position in the society then. the parent can make decisions. In sum, parents do not make decisions for the school, and the PTA's role is to tell parents how they can take care of their children at home. Some teachers want parents to make decisions that they would help their children at least at home. 118

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Teachers prefer that parents who would make decisions be well educated, have expertise, or hold high positions in the society. Bringing Schools and Parents Together to Get Community Organizations' Sup,port Many teachers reported that not many organizations support the school's activities. RHGT3 said, ''Nobody is supporting us; we ask a lot, but nobody responds." RHGT2 stated that ''we just have the Internet classes that ... [were] donated to us." Few teachers believe that the schools in UAE do not need any support from the community's organizations. RHBTl stated, "I think the school does not need any help from the community's organizations, and the educational district is providing us with what we need." Several teachers reported that their schools try to work with some of the community organizations, such as RUEGTl who mentioned that ''we have good connections with the girls club and heritage club. Also, the TV talks about our activities." RBEBTl added, "All of the organizations do not hesitate to help us especially when we ask them, even the supermarket." Some teachers stated that the school depends on their contributions to do the school activities, such as RBEBT3 who said, "Most of our activities depend on the teachers." 119

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However, many teachers believe that parents could play an important role in connecting the school with the community organizations. RHGT3 mentioned that "they can support us by their communication because we need a lot of equipment to improve our school. You see this garden. We waited months till we had it." RHGT3 said that parents could help connect the school with the community organizations by "advertisement and personal communications." RUEGT2 reported that "they can use their personal communication to talk about our activities and projects to these organizations." Further, some teachers asserted that the school has to ask parents for help. RBEBT3 mentioned, "If we convince parents of our needs, they will help us, and they will ask different organizations to help us too." A few teachers think that the school should initiate the work with the community organizations, not parents. RHGT2 asserted that "the school has to start first, invite these organizations and know their service and then work with them." Also, RHBTI added that "if the school asks for any help, it will find it, but the school does not ask." Some teachers remarked, that when some organizations facilitate teachers' work, it means that these organizations support the school. RHBT3 said, ''Parents could help in different ways; for example, parents who work in the immigration department could facilitate the teachers' papers. Parents could ask some organizations to help the school in its activities." Some teachers want organizations 120

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to do a lot of things for them. RHGT3 said, "First of all we need money and experience." RHBT2 wishes that community organizations could "provide the school with recent technology and inform them about the latest technology in every field. We do not want our students to feel that what they take in the school is different from what is going on out of school." And this is what RMGT2 wanted: ''Now, we are in the computer world so we want [organizations] to know who can donate some computers for us and train our students and teachers to use the computer." RBEBT3 suggested that another help would be if the organizations would fund rebuilding: ''Now, our rooms are not suitable for our future projects, so we need more rooms; also we need to build a mosque for the school." Overall, teachers believe that the involvement of community organizations in the school is essential, but parents do not put the school in contact with these groups. Several teachers believe that parents could use their personal communication to get help from the community's organizations, but few of them believe that it is the school's responsibility to contact these organizations. Summary In sum, teachers observed that most of students appear to be well cared for. Few teachers communicate with parents and usually only about their children's low achievement or their behavior. Teachers reported that parents are not involved with them in classrooms, but most of teachers would like parents to be visible in the 121

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classrooms, other teachers stated that they do not want parents to be in classrooms, but they want parents to be involved by helping their children at home. However, few parents contact teachers to learn how they can help their children at home and most who do are elementary student parents. Most teachers reported that only a few parents are involved in school activities. Further, teachers said that few parents participate in PTA, and most of teachers do not au end PTA meetings. Regardless, the teachers said that parents' role should not include making decisions about school policies. Also, teachers said that parents do not connect schools with community organizations. 122

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CHAPTER SIX THE PARENTS' STORY This chapter presents caregivers' (parents) views about the six types of parental involvement. Parents' views from distinguished schools are presented first, and then parents' views from regular schools are addressed. The Parents of Distinguished Schools From the distinguished schools, I interviewed 14 mothers and a sister; twelve were from UAE, DHBP3 was from India originally, two were from Yemen, and one was from Palestine. Four UAE mothers are illiterate, as were the two Yemeni mothers. Some interviewees did not attend high school such as DHGS 1, DMGP 1, DUEGP2, and DUEGP3. Others had a high school degree, diploma, or license. The following sections report the results of these interviews. Parenting at Home Some of the interviewees reported that students in the high and middle schools depend on themselves more than students do in the elementary schools. Thus, the role of parents in parenting at home depends on the students' school level because students in the elementary school need more care than older students need. For 123

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instance, a mother reported opening the children's bags to see what they had from the school and what they should study for the next day. DBEBP2 said, "I look for his homework, and I explain to him what he should do. I review with him what he had during the morning, and I prepare with him for the next day." Unless the student is good at school, parents do not take a serious role in their child's education. For example, DUEGP2 stated that when my children come from the school, they change their clothes, pray, and have their lunch. After that they sleep for while, then they start studying. My daughter is doing fme in school. She does not need any help from me. The role of parents in the education ofhigh and middle school levels mostly is encouragement and advising, and it is usually the students' responsibility to study and to prepare for the next day. DHGSl said, "After we have lunch, she starts looking for what she has to study and prepare for the next day. I watch her to if she is working on her books or not." DHBP3 stated that "I always tell him that you have to study for your future. I remind all of them of their exams and assignments.'' DMGPl asserted that "my daughter depends on herself. After she eats her lunch, she takes a rest until four o'clock, and then she starts doing her homework and preparing for the next day till evening. Then early the next day, she reviews her subjects." Further, parents try to provide an encouraging environment and to supply their children with what they need. DUEGP3 reported, "We encourage her to prepare for her lessons and to study what she takes every day. We take care of her food and her 124

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clothes." DMGP3 mentioned that "she does her homework and studies for her test. We take care of everything else; we have a maid to serve her if she wants anything." When I asked the parents how they help their children with homework, some parents said that they are able to help their children, but some parents were not. Some parents cannot help their children in their homework because they are illiterate or not very well educated. For example, DHGPl mentioned, "I do not know how to read and write that much so I cannot help her." Nevertheless, some parents are able to help their young children who are in elementary school but not at a higher level because of the parents' level of education. DHBP3 stated, "I can help my young children who are in the elementary school, but I cannot help the older ones." Sometimes, one of the family members could help in the children's education when the mother cannot, such as DBEBSl, a sister, who commented that "I sit with him and review his homework, and things that he does not understand I help him with." DUEGP2 asserted, "Usually she depends on herself. Sometimes when she needs help, I sit with her, and we read the lesson and try to do the homework together." DHGSl, a sister, said, "If she does not know how to do her homework, I can sit with her and try to work with her." Some parents try to encourage their children to do their best by providing them with a motivating atmosphere. For instance, DHGP2 mentioned, "I work to make our home quiet and all her needs are met." DUEGP3 said, "I control watching TV, and I do not let her play a lot. Also, I ask her to pay attention to the teacher in 125

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class." DBEBP2 added, "I encourage him, and I reward him for good achievement by visiting game centers or buying games for him." DUEGP2 asserted, "I take care of everything for them, and I give them everything that they need. I do not ask them to do anything at home. I just want them to focus on their studies." Similarly, DHBP3 said, "I encourage them. For example, if my son got a low grade, I would say to him, 'It is not your grade. You are smarter than that.' I even tell others that so when he hears what I am saying, he will work harder." However, few parents do not motivate their children for the best. They are satisfied with their children's level of achievement. For example, DMGP3 remarked, "I do not have children with a high level of achievement. I have children who pass, and I do not ask them for more than what they can do." Schools invite parents to school to tell them how they can help their children, but few parents respond. DHGS 1 stated, "The school sends letters to us, but we are too busy to attend the school." The school gives us lectures not on how to help our children in their schools, but how to take care of our children's cleanliness. Usually, the school letters do not motivate us to visit the school; they are not interesting and not informative enough. (DUEGPl) Some parents asserted that their children's schools do not invite them to school. DBEBP1 asserted that ''the school does not tell us how we can help our children in the home." 126

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In general, parents take more care of their elementary children, but as the children grow, parents' involvement decreases. Some parents who are illiterate or not well educated help their children who are in middle or high schools. They try to encourage their children to do their best, even if they cannot help them with their subjects, by motivating them with words or providing them with what they need. Communication Between School and Parents Some parents reported that teachers usually do not contact them. DHGS l said, ''They did not contact us." Some parents reported that teachers send letters to them. ''They do not call, but they send letters," according to DHGP2. However, some parents said that some teachers call them. For example, DMGP3 added, "Sometimes they call." Other parents contact teachers through their visits to the school. For example, DHBP2 mentioned that "his father talks with teachers when he visits the school." When I asked parents why teachers contact them, parents said that teachers contact them to invite them to the school activities or to talk about their students' level of achievement. DHGP2 said, "To attend their activities." Some teachers contact parents to ask them to encourage their children to do their best in the coming exams. DHBP3 stated, "When they have exams, they call to tell me that my child has exams to encourage him to do his best." Other teachers would contact parents to find out why their children are absent from the school. DMGP3 mentioned, "When one of 127

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my children is absent from the school, one of the teachers would call." Some teachers contact parents to ask their pennission to involve their children in some activities. DUEGP2 said, .. The school social worker calls just to get pennission from us to allow our daughter to participate in a certain activity." Most parents prefer the school to contact them by phone. DMGPl mentioned, "The phone because you cannot guarantee that students will give the letter to their parents." Other parents prefer meeting teachers face to face. DBEBP2 said, "Visiting and the phone; I like dialog more to understand what the school wants, and I make sure that they understand my points." Other parents prefer a letter. DUEGP3 stated she prefers ''the letter, because sometimes I might not be at home." However, most of the parents interviewed do not call teachers. Some parents do not like to contact teachers because their children do not like their parents to interfere with them and their teachers. DHBP2 stated "My son does not like us to interfere with his teachers." Other parents contact teachers when they visit the school. DMGPl said, "When I visit the school, I talk to teachers." In fact, few parents visit or call teachers to find out how their children are doing on their tests. DHGP2 remarked, "Sometimes, I call teachers to ask about the exam results." Further, it is rare that parents contact the principal of the school, and if that happened, it usually would be about something that is serious such as absenteeism. DHBP2 said, "Just when my son is sick, and be cannot go to the school." 128

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In sum, only a few teachers contact parents, and these contacts are often about students' achievement or behavior or an activity. On the other hand, few parents contact teachers, and then it is usually about a student's grade. Parents do not try to contact principals because it means that their children have a serious problem. Involving Parents in Classroom and School Activities Attending classroom activities is rare, as most of the parents indicated that teachers do not invite them to their classrooms. DMGPl asserted, "Never, because they did not invite us to the classroom." However, they do not mind being involved in the classrooms if they feel they are welcome. DHBPl said, ''His father does not attend classroom activities, but he does not mind helping if teachers want any educational material or help." Some parents asserted that they visited the classrooms when their children were in the elementary schools. For example, DUEGPl mentioned that she "attended once for my daughter when she was in the first grade." DHGP2 added, "I attended for my son but just in third grade." However, many parents would not mind helping teachers in the classroom if they knew what they could otTer. DMGP3 remarked, "I will participate ifl know what I should do, and ifl am able to do it." Other parents prefer to help at the elementary level. DMGPl stated, "I do not know; I think it is hard at this level. If she were in elementary school, it would be easier to help in the classroom." 129

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Some parents just want to visit without helping. For instance, DHGP2 "I like to visit the school, but not to participate more than that." Others do not want to be in the classroom. DUEGP3 commented, "I do not feel comfortable participating in the classroom, and I do not think I will be able to help in the class." Other parents asserted that the school does not encourage them to be involved in the classrooms. For example, DUEGPl asserted, "I want to help in the classroom, but the school does not encourage me. I can help with stories." Further, most parents think that teachers would be happy if they helped them. For example, DHGS 1 said, "Teachers will like the idea because it is a sign of our caring about the students." DHBP2 stated, "I think they will be happy to fmd someone who could help them and take some of the responsibility." Other parents think that teachers will not like the idea because parents may disturb the classroom. DHGP2 asserted, "I am not sure but I think they will not like the idea because we may interrupt the class." DHBPl said, "They will reject the idea because having parents in the classroom limits their freedom. Even the students will be shy." Some parents related that their presence in the classrooms could imply to teachers that parents are investigating them. DMGP2 stated, "I think most of them will not mind, but some may not like the idea because of shyness or fear of criticism." DUEGPl "I think that teachers will not like me to participate in the class 130

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because they think that I cannot or I do not know anything. Maybe some teachers will think that I do not trust them." A mother asserted that involving parents in the classrooms depends on the time of the academic year and the topic that parents are willing to participate in. DBEBP2 remarked, It depends on the time, if the parents ask in the beginning of the year or toward the end of the academic year. Usually, teachers will not welcome the idea if it comes at the end of the year because they are busy finishing up their curriculum. If it were in the begiMing, they would be happy. Also, it depends on the topic; if teachers feel that parents will be expert in it, they would like the parents to present it. Most parents visit the school at least once. DHGPl said, "Once." And some parents six times, according to DUEGP2. However, some parents reported that they lack transportation. DBEBP 1 "Transportation; I have nobody to take me to the school, and I do not drive." Some parents did not visit the school because they did not get an invitation. DHGPl said, "I did not get any invitation." Some parents are busy or their health dose not allow them to visit the school. For example, DHBP2 mentioned, "Sometimes his father is busy, and some times he is tired because he has diabetes." However, some parents want to help in the school, but they do not know what is required from them. DHGP2 asserted, "I like to be involved in planning and organizing, but they do not ask me!" DHGS 1 added, "Anything the school wants, I will try my best to do." 131

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Some parents suggested ways to increase their involvement in the school, including involvement in sports activities on an open day. DHBP2 stated, "We want an open day so that all parents could participate in the school activities such as sport activities." Other parents want to participate in school activities by bringing food. DMGP3 mentioned, "1 can prepare some food for them at home if they want." Some parents want to help the administration in planning and organizing the school activities. DUEGPl said, "If I have transportation, I would like to participate in planning and organizing some of the school activities." Finally, some parents just want to attend the school activities and watch. DBEBS 1 asserted, "I can attend, but I cannot offer more than that." In brief, parents are not being involved in classroom activities, even though some parents visited their children when they were in the elementary schools. Some parents are willing to help teachers in the classrooms, but they worry that teachers may not like the idea because they do not trust parents' intention in helping them. Others cannot help in the classrooms because of their level of education or shyness. Further, few parents attend their children's school activities, and they have reasons such as they do not get invitations, they lack transportation, or they have small children at home. Helping Children with Learning at Home Most parents do not contact teachers to learn how they can help their children. 132

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Mostly, students ask their friends. DHBP2 said, "He calls his friends. We do not have any teachers' phone numbers." DMGPl asserted, "My children are old, and they know what should be done by themselves." DBEBS 1 stated, "When he was in the first grade, I was involved." DHGP2 mentioned that "it did not happen before because my daughter is good." Further, some parents think that they can help their children, and others cannot because they are not educated. DHGPl said, "I cannot help my children because I am illiterate." DHBP3 asserted, "When they were in the elementary school, I was able to help them, but as they get older I cannot because the subjects are difficult." DMGP3 stated, "Yes I can. I ask them what they have. I see if they have any difficult with their studies. If I can help with something, I help them." DUEGP2 said, "Not all of them. I have seven children. Some I can sit with, and others I cannot." DMGPl stated, "I can help my small children, but my older children depend on themselves." In short, some parents can help their children, especially if their children are in the elementary schools, but as their children get older and their subjects get more difficult, parents cannot help their children any more and encourage their children to depend on themselves. Further, illiterate parents generally cannot help their children with learning at home. 133

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Involving Parents in Decision Making All of the parents that I interviewed were not in the PTA, and the primary reason behind that is shyness. DHGSl stated, "I am shy, and most of them are older women and different from me." A mother stated that she feels that the school does not welcome her because she is not a UAE citizen. DHGP2 mentioned, "Because they prefer local mothers and I am not." Some mothers are busy with their children or their job. "I am busy with my children, and his father is busy with his job" (DHBPl ). Few mothers think that they are not able to be in the PTA because they are illiterate such as DHBP3 who asserted that" I cannot read or write." Others do not have transportation. "I do not have a transportation because I have to be ready when they want me and I cannot," according to DUEGPl. Some parents know that the PTA meetings try to connect them with the school. DHGP2 mentioned, "They explain to mothers what they should do for their daughters so students could get high grades." DHBPl stated that ''parents give some suggestions to improve school activities and to solve students' behavior problems." DUEGPl added, "In the PTA meeting, the school tells parents how they should help their children in their learning, and how they should take care of them. They try to solve students' problems." In general, even though most of the parents know the importance of the PTA, none of these parents is in the PTA. Some parents reported they have no 134

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transportation to participate, they are shy, they are not local, or they are busy with their job or small children at home. Bringing Schools and Parents Together to Get Community Organizations' Support Most of the parents do not contact any organizations to get support for the school. Some of them think it is not their responsibility, and it is the school's job to communicate with community organizations. DHBP2 said, "I do not think it is our responsibility!" DUEGPl added, ''Nobody asked me to do that, and I did not get the chance to do something like this." The Parents of Regular Schools From regular schools, I interviewed 15 caregivers, including 12 mothers, a father, a sister, and an aunt. Ten were UAE citizens and two were from Egypt, one from Oman, and two from Yemen. Four mothers from the UAE who did not get to high school, and the Yemeni mothers were illiterate. Others had high school degrees, a diploma, a license, and bachelor's degrees. Their ages ranged from 21 to 45. Parenting at Home Parents in these schools try to provide their children with everything they need. "I do not let her do anything at home; she just has to study" (DHGP2). Parents 135

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reported that their children depend on themselves in studying. For example, RHGPl asserted that "she depends on herself, [although] we encourage her and we limit watching TV time." RHGP2 added "My daughter is in high school, and she takes care of her studying. When she comes home, she changes her clothes, prays, and eats her lunch. Then she prepares for her lessons. RHBP3 commented, "He takes care of himself. and I just advise him." RMGP3 said, "I try to make the home and their stuff clean and encourage them to do their homework," and RUEGP2 remarked, "I take care of her nutrition, her clothes, and I help her with anything that she cannot understand." When I asked parents if they help their children with their homework, most said that their children depend on themselves to do their homework. ..1 do not help her. She knows what to do" (RHGP2). Other parents try to help their children if they can: "I ask him if he wants anything, but usually he depends on himself. If his homework is about art, I can help him. Otherwise my wife helps him because she can help him more in science" (RHBPI). RMGP2 stated, "I try if she needs me to read with her and to listen to her if she wants to memorize things." Students in the elementary schools get more help from their parents. RUEGP2 said, "I read the lesson with her and try to answer the questions with her, but usually I ask her to depend on herself." Similarly, RBEBP2 said, "I open the bag with him. I take out each book to know what he had today and what he has to do for tomorrow. I read with him and ask him some questions to make sure that he understood the 136

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lesson." Further, RBEBAl said, "If he has math and writing homework, I review them with him, and if I found mistakes for him, I ask him to do it again. If he did not know how, I show him the right answer, and I test him again." Parents try to do their best to help their children to study: "We try to provide her with quiet home. We try to keep her away from the problem at least until she finishes her exams" (RHGPl). Some parents help their children more when their children are in elementary schools, but as their children grow they depend on themselves. When they were in the elementary schools, I taught them. I even prepared four lessons ahead of the teacher. I studied what they had in the school with them. I gave them exams for which they had to make sure they understood everything in the subject. Now, they are in high school, and they depend on themselves more, but I encourage them to do the best, and I provide them with a quiet home. (RHGP2) Several parents try to provide their children with anything that helps them to study. "We watch them and their time. We encourage them to do their best. Usually I make a timetable for them when they have exams to help them study for them and review for them" (RHBPl ). RHBP2 said, "Their food is ready, the home is clean. I ask them to study hard because their certificate is very important for their future." RMGP3 added, "I make sure that the home is quiet, and they are organized. I also make sure that they eat well." Some parents care about their children's social life in the school, so they try to strengthen this side at home. RMGP2 commented "I encourage her to study and to 137

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socialize with her classmates especially because she just transferred to the school recently." Some parents contact teachers to make sure that they are helping their children well. RBEBPl said, "I take care of him well, and I keep in touch with the school to see what he is doing in the school. I ask the teacher if she wants me to do anything with him." Further, some schools try to help parents and direct them in how they can help their children at home. RHGP3 stated, ''The school tells us that we have to encourage our children and provide them with a good environment to study." ''The school tells us that we have to take care of our children's studies, control watching TV, and provide them with a motivating environment" (RMGP2). RBEBPl said, "In the beginning of the school year, they give a lecture on how we should take care of our children and prepare them to go to school." Overall, most of the parents take care of their children at home; if they can help with their education, they do, but if they are illiterate or cannot, they let their children depend on themselves. Most of the parents try to give their children a comfortable atmosphere to study. Also, some schools try to guide parents in how they can help their children at home. Communication Between School and Parents The school contacts parents by phone, letters, and fax and through PTA meetings: "By phone, fax, and in the PTA meetings" (RHBP 1 ). Some parents 138

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reported that the schools do not contact them. "They do not call, and usually they only call if the student is absent or ill or has problems. Thank God my son has nothing like this, so they do not call us about him" (RHBP2). Further, some schools send monthly reports, and some teachers write comments for parents on their students' workbooks. RMGP2 commented, "They contact us through monthly report. Some teachers write comments on my children's books." Some parents prefer the phone as the way to contact them: ''The phone, I do not like the school to give my sons letters because that embarrasses them" (RBEBP2). Other parents prefer letters. "I prefer the letter so I can prepare for my answers" (RHGPI). And RHGP2 stated, ''The letter because sometimes I am not home so the letter is better and my children will give it to me." Other parents feel that meeting teachers is more effective. RHBPI said that "meeting teachers face to face is more effective." However, some of the parents do not contact teachers: "I have a job, and I have no time to visit the school" (RMGP2). Some teachers call parents to tell them that their student is absent or to report their achievements to their parents. RHGP2 said, "Some teachers call to ask why my daughter is absent, or they talk about her achievement." Few mothers of elementary students call teachers to know how they can help their children in certain assignments. RUEGP2 said, "Sometimes, I call a teacher to let her know that my daughter did not understand what she had in the class so the teacher can take care of that in the next day." Other parents call teachers to justify 139

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their children's absence and learn about their children's homework. "I call a teacher to tell her the reason for my child's absence and to find out his homework" (RBEBP2). One mother mentioned that the school asked them not to call teachers. "In a meeting with the school, they told us not to call teachers because teachers do not have time for us which embarrasses us to call" (RBEBPl). Parents who are involved with the PTA are always in contact with the school. RHBPl asserted, "I am the chair of the PTA. Therefore the teachers and I usually keep in touch." Some teachers call parents if a student faces any problem. RMGP3 said, "If there is an academic or behavior problem, some teachers call." Some teachers call parents to ask them to encourage their children. RUEGPl stated that she got calls ''to encourage my children to work harder." Other teachers call parents to ask parents to help their children in their activities. RBEBAl stated, "Some teachers call if they wanted anything for the class activities." Few parents contact teachers, and it usually to know what their children are doing in the school. DHGP2 said, "I call to learn what my daughter is doing in school and how I can help them with her." Some parents call teachers to justify their children's absence and ask teachers for their children's homework. RBEBPl stated, ''To tell the teachers why my child is absent and to learn what his homework is so I can teach him what he missed." 140

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Further, most of the parents do not contact principals unless they know her or him. RHBPl stated, "Sure, every ten days I visit the school; besides the principal is my friend." Some parents do not like to contact principals because it means there is a problem. "I do not want to make any comments to the principal because it will be seen as a complaint which I do not mean," explained RMGP2. Some parents contact the principals to know the results of their children's competitions. RHGP2 stated, "I called the principal to know what my daughter is doing or the results of her participation in some activities." In sum, teachers contact parents usually by phone or letter to report their children's achievement and their behavior problems. Few parents contact teachers to give excuses for their children's absences or to find out how they can help their children. Also, few parents contact principals and usually about the result of exams or competitions. However, some parents are members of the PTA or friends of the principals, so they keep in touch with them. Involving Parents in Classroom and School Activities It is rare to have parents who participate in classroom activities. However, some parents like to be in classrooms, "I did not and I am waiting such a chance" (RHGP3). Others are against the idea, as explains RHBPl: "I do not prefer this idea because it makes the students shy and disturbs the classroom activity." 141

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Some fathers are not available for their sons, and it is hard for mothers to go to the boys schools because separating boys and girls schools is traditional. RHBP3 stated, "I cannot attend his activities because I will be the only mother among fathers; besides, his father cannot visit the school because of his job." Some parents think that helping their children with their activities at home is enough and they do not need to be in the school. As RMGP2 said, "I participate through, my daughter's work in the classroom by helping her with her activities and her homework at home." Some schools do not allow parents to visit the classrooms. "The school social worker told us not to do that because they do no want us to interrupt the class" (RBEBPl ). However, some parents are willing to help in the classrooms. RHGP2 stated, "I want to be in the classroom to advise students. I am willing to do anything the teacher wants me to do; I will do it if I am able." Some parents prefer just to visit the classroom. RHBPI mentioned, "I think is the best way to motivate my son and to appreciate the teachers' effort is to visit the classrooms. If I feel that the classroom needs any help, I will do my best to help too." Some parents want the school to specify what they want from them to help the school. RHBP2 asserted, "We do not mind if we have free time, but they have to tell us what they want." Other parents do not want to be in the classroom because they do not feel confident that they will be helpful for teachers. "I do not know because I do not have experience or education to offer for the classroom," said RMGPl. 142

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When I asked parents how they thought teachers would respond if they asked them to be involved in classroom activities, some parents thought that teachers would be happy to have them in the classroom. RHGP2 asserted that "Some will like the idea because we will help them, but others could refuse the idea because we could interrupt the class." Few parents said that some teachers will not like the idea because it means that teachers will think that parents investigate them. RHBP 1 stated, "Some will like the idea, and others will not welcome the idea because it interferes with their business, and it means also for them that the parents are spying on them." Other parents think it is not their job to help in the classroom. RHBP2 stated, "It is the school's responsibility to teach our children, and the teacher knows his job well." Most of the parents of regular schools who I interviewed visit schools regularly. RHGP2 said, "More than ten times." And RHBPI mentioned that he visits the school "every ten or fifteen days." Few ofthoem visited the school only once or never. Parents might not participate in school activities because they could be busy or sick. RHGP2 said, ''Could be illness, or I am busy with another school." RHBP3 added, "I am busy with the home, and it is hard for me to visit a high school for boys. Besides his father is busy with his job." Some mothers are busy with their small children at home. RMGPl remarked, "I am busy with my small children, and nobody 143

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helps at home ., Some parents reported that their illness or transportation stops them from being in the school, as RMGP3 indicated. Some parents do not receive an invitation to the school activities. RUEGP2 said, "Nothing could keep me from attending the school, but nobody invited me ., Some parents do not like the school activities. ''The school does not offer attractive activities for us" (RBEBPl). Even though some parents want to be involved in school activities, they want an invitation from the school. RHGPl stated, "ffthey invited us, we would participate. Some parents give some examples for what they can do to help the school activities. RHGP2 said, "I like broadcasting, giving the students gifts, participating in competitions, and giving religious lectures." Also, RBEBAl said, "If I could, I would like to participate in school exhibitions, give lectures, and provide any financial support for the school activities." Some parents want the school to specify what parents can do for the school. "Any activity the school wants me to participate in, I would participate in, but they have to give me a role" (RHBPl). Overall, parents do not visit the classrooms even though some of them want to be visible and active in the classroom to help their children and teachers. Also, most of the parents visit the school at least once to respond to an invitation or to ask about their children. Parents would be more active in the school if the school gave them roles and responsibilities. 144

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Helping Children Learning at Home Most of the parents do not call teachers to find out how they can help their children. RHGP3 asserted that her daughter "asks her friends if she has any question." Some parents prefer that their children depend on themselves to do their homework or any activity. RHBP2 said, ''They do not ask us. They take care of that by themselves." RMGP3 added, "I ask them to depend on themselves, and if they could not, they would ask the teacher or their friends the next day." When I asked parents if they are able to help their children, most of them said that they can. For example, RHGPl said, "I am able to help my children, and ifl am not, I will take them to private tutoring." Some parents asserted that they cannot help their children because they are illiterate. RHBP2 stated, "I can advise them but not help them with their homework because I cannot read or write." In short, some parents are able to help their children, but usually they ask their children to depend on themselves. Few parents call teachers to learn how they can help their children; they prefer to have a tutor or to let their children ask the teachers or their friends in school for help. Most of the illiterate mothers cannot help their children at home with their lessons. Involving Parents in Decision Making Just two parents of those I interviewed are in the PTA, and one of these two is the chair of the school PTA. These parents recognize the PTA's role in the school. 145

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RHGP2 remarked, ''The PTA connects the school with the family and provides the school with suggestions to work better with students., RMGPl said, ''The PTA cares about the students' achievement and their behavior too." On the other hand, most parents do not know what the PTA is doing in the school. RHBP2 stated, "You want the truth, I do not know, but it should be useful., Even though parents know about the role that PTA plays, they do not participate in it. When I asked other parents why they are not members in the PTA, some said that they wanted to be in the PTA, but the school ignored them. RHGP 1 said, "I asked to be in the PTA, but nobody cares!, RHGP3 added, "I cannot be involved with the PTA because I am busy with other children at home." Some parents are busy at home, they do not have transportation, or they are busy with their work. RHBP2 stated, "I have things to do at home; besides, I do not have transportation, and their father is busy with his job., RMGP2 added, "It needs commitment, which I cannot make because of my work., Some parents did not receive any invitation to attend the PTA. RMGP3 said, ''They did not invite me., Further, some parents do not like to be in the school in order to stay away from trouble. RUEGP2 said, "From my experience, it is better to stay home and stay away from problems. I have a cousin who was involved with PTA. She dealt with mothers who did not respect her or even listen to her. They talk about her behind her back., 146

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In brief, in spite of knowing the importance of the PTA in the school, most of the parents are not members in the PTA because sometimes the school selects certain mothers and ignores others, some parents are busy with their jobs or with their small children, they did not get an invitation, they do not have transportation, or they think that being in the PTA is trouble and they want to stay from problems. Bringing Schools and Parents Together to Get Community Organizations' SuRPOrt Most ofthe parents do not contact any community organizations to get support for the school. Some parents think that it is the school's responsibility to contact them. RUEGSl asserted, "It is the school's responsibility to contact these organizations." Some parents do not have time to connect the school with community's organizations. For example, RMGPl stated, "I have no time for that." However, some parents are willing to communicate with the community's organizations for the school. RHBPl said, "Until now I have not contacted any organization for the school, but if the school asked me to, I will do my best." Although parents do not contact the community's organizations, they believe that involving these organizations is important for the school and their children. RHBPl stated, "I would like the community organizations to be more involved with the school and provide them with a lot of service such as training and equipment like computers." RHGPl mentioned "The school needs air-conditioners. Why don't they 147

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II I I i collect some money from those who are able to give? Something small from every parent could benefit the school, but the school does not communicate." RMGP2 added, "I want these organizations to facilitate more trips to the school and help the school fmancially." Summcuy In general, parents asserted that they help their children at home, mostly by encouraging them to do their best; however, educated mothers help their elementary students with their learning, while parents of upper level students tend to let the students rely on themselves. Most parents reported that schools do not communicate with them, and few parents contact schools to see how they can help their children. Parents said that they do not visit classrooms, and few of them attend school activities. Further, most parents are not involved in PTA, and they do not connect schools with community organizations because they think it is the schools' responsibility to involve community organizations in their activities. 148

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CHAPTER SEVEN PARETNAL INVOLVMEMENT IN DISTINGUISHED AND REGULAR SCHOOLS After going through what the principals, teachers, and parents from distinguished and regular schools said about parents' involvement in their schools, I now present what each group stated for each type of parental involvement. The following sections elaborate the sections in the tables: parenting at home, communication between school and parents, involving the classes and school activities, helping children with learning at home, involving parenting in making decisions, and bringing schools and parents together to get support of community organizations. Parenting at Home The principals of distinguished and regular schools asserted that their schools have many parents who are involved in parenting at home (see Table 7.1). Further, the teachers from distinguished and regular schools make clear that parental involvement in the UAE schools generally means parenting at home, and most of the parents take care of their children's attendance, health, and appearance. Likewise, parents of distinguished and regular schools stated that they take care of their children at home. 149

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Table 7.1 Parenting at Home in Distinguished and Regular Schools Schools Distinguished Schools Regular Schools Principals Students tend take care of themselves in high schools. However, half of middle school students are taken care of by their parents, and 70% and more of elementary students are well take care of. Most students tend to come to school ready to learn. Some students come to the school with health problems especially if the parents are working. Teachers Few students are absent or come to school sick. Most students come to class with finished homework. Few students are absent or have health problems. Science section in high school is more serious than art section, and most of them do their homework. Parents Parents are involved more with elementary students, but as students grow, they take care of themselves. Even if parents do not know how to read or write, they still encourage their children to study. Parents try to provide encouraging environment for their children to study. They provide them with what they need. Few parents who are educated, help their children. Communication Between School and Parents The principals of distinguished and regular schools try hard to communicate with parents, but those who respond are few unless the school has a celebration, 150

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especially in the elementary schools (see Table 7.2). Also, teachers of distinguished and regular schools affirmed that schools try hard to reach parents to get them involved with their children's education and the school activities, but few parents respond to the schools. On the other hand, sundry parents reported that the school does not communicate well with them or invite them to participate in activities. Involving the Classes and School Activities The principals of distinguished and regular schools reported that it is rare to have parents active or present in classrooms (see Table 7.3). While a few parents attend school activities, few of them organize and plan the school activities, and mostly they are members in the PTA. Further, teachers of distinguished and regular schools asserted that many parents do not attend classroom activities or school activities. In fact, a few teachers worry that "some parents could embarrass teachers and students because sometimes parents could say bad words should not be said and could embarrass teachers or the students" (DHBTl ). However, various parents from distinguished and regular schools are willing to help in the school and classroom activities if they know what they should do. Many parents prefer to limit their participation in the school activities to attending functions. On the other hand, a few parents at a distinguished high school donated money to build a library and a mosque, but this kind of involvement is not common for other schools. 151

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i I I I I I I Table 7.2 Communication between Schools and Parents in Distingyished and Regylar Schools Schools Principals Teachers Parents Distinguished Schools invite The Only a few Schools parents to school communication teachers contact and try to between teachers parents, and these communicate and parents, contacts are often with them by usually is from one about students' phone, by letters, side, the school. achievement or or through Few teachers behavior or personal visits. actually contact particular activity. parents, since On the other hand, communication is few parents contact usually through teachers, and then school social it is usually about a workers who use student's grade. letters or the phone to contact parents. Regular Schools They invite It is more common Few teachers parents to the that the school contact parents to school, but few contacts parents, report children's parents respond but a few parents achievement and to them. call the school or their behavior teachers to see problems. Few what they can parents contact offer to the school teachers to give or how they can excuses for their help their children. children's absences or to find out how they can help their 152

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Table 7.3 Involving Parents in Classes and School activities in Distinguished and Regular Schools Schools Principals Teachers Parents Distinguished Parents are not Parents' participation Parents are not Schools involved in in the classroom is involved in classroom rare, and it generally classroom activities, and is limited to school activities, and few not many parents wide activities. of them attend are involved in their children's school activities school activities. either. Regular Schools Parents are not Parents are not active They do not visit involved in in classrooms, and the classrooms, classrooms few of them attend and few of them activities, and school activities. visit school fewofthem activities. attend school activities. Helping Children with Learning at Home Principals of distinguished and regular schools reported that few parents contact them to see how they can help their children, and most of the time students depend on themselves or ask their friends for assistance (see Table 7.4). Additionally, few teachers of distinguished or regular schools reported that parents contact them to find out how they can help their children. Those who do are mostly 153

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parents of elementary students. On the other hand, a few teachers do not want parents to be involved at the high-school level because they could be trouble to the school Table 7.4 Helping Children with Learning at Home in Distinguished and Regular Schools Schools Principals Teachers Parents Distinguished Few parents Few parents call Most parents tend Schools contact the teachers to learn how not to contact school to ask they can help their teachers to learn how they can children. how they can help help their their children. children at home. Regular Schools Few parents It is rare that parents Some parents are come to the contact teachers to able to help their school to find find out how they can children, but out how they help their children. usually they ask could help their their children to children in their depend on subjects or even themselves. Few their activities. parents call teachers to learn how they can help their children. and students. DHGT3 stated that .. 1 do not try to involve parents with their children's education because we will have disadvantages more than the advantages." However, several parents stated that they are able to help their children; if they cannot help their children, parents prefer their children to be independent. 154

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Involving Parenting in Making Decisions The principals and teachers of distinguished and regular schools stated that parents' role in making decisions for the school is limited to giving suggestions and opinions to improve schoolwork and solve students' problems (see Table 7.5). In fact, parents are not viewed as decision makers in these schools because most of the decisions are made by the Ministry of Education and school principals. On the other hand, numerous parents are not aware of the role of the PTA, and they do not know what is expected from them. Few parents reported that they know much about the PTA. Those who do want to participate, but feel that the school does not encourage them. Other parents want to be part of the PTA, but they do not have transportation to visit the school. Bringing Schools and Parents together to Get Support of Community Organizations The principals of distinguished and regular schools reported that it is rare to have parents who contact community organizations to help the school (see Table 7.6). Also, the teachers of distinguished and regular schools remarked that parents do not connect community organizations to their schools, and various teachers think it is the school's --not parents' --responsibility to connect the school organizations. A 155

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Table 7.5 Involving Parents in Making Decisions in Distinguished and Regular Schools Schools Principals Teachers Parents Distinguished All principals do Parents do not make Noneofthe Schools not want parents decisions for their parents to do more than schools; they just give interviewed give suggestions suggestions. participated in for and opinions PTA. about school activities. Regular Parents do not Parents do not make Most parents are Schools make decisions decisions for school, not members of for their schools. and the PTA's role is the PTA. If parents to tell parents how participated in they can take care of PTA, they just their children at home. gave suggestions. Table 7.6 Bringing Schools and Parents Together to Get Organizations' SU(!(!Ort in Distinguished and Regular Schools Schools Principals Teachers Parents Distinguished No connection Most teachers do not Most parents do not Schools appears know if their schools contact organizations between schools have been helped by to get support for and community community their schools. organizations. organizations. Regular They wish that Parents do not Most parents do not Schools the community contact community contact community organizations organizations for organizations to get were involved school activities. support for the in their schools. school. 156

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teacher from a regular school said that the school does not need help from community organizations because what the Ministry gives the school is enough for their activities. Further, most of parents agree with teachers who think that, while the involvement of community organizations in the school is very important, it is the school's responsibility to communicate with community organizations. In general, the principals of distinguished and regular schools, regardless of their gender, their school level, or their years of experience, believe that parents are essential partners in educating their children and view parents as partners whose roles are very important to students and the school success. These principals want to have serious partnership with parents, but they think that most parents either are not qualified or are inattentive. Comments made by one of the principals expressed the shared idea about involving parents in their children's education: "Having parents active in their children's education is very important because the school consists of teachers, students, and parents as human elements. If these elements are connected and coordinated, the school will achieve its goal" (DHGP). All teachers, regardless of their gender, nationality, or their years of experience, believe that parental involvement in their children's education is very important. A teacher from a distinguished school, DHGT3, stated that "it is important, and they have to participate in every activity whether in the school or the classroom; some parents could give lectures. We get benefit from them. Parents' influence is more than teachers' influence." Another teacher from a regular school 157

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claimed that the family knows better their children's needs and problems, which makes their cooperation with school necessary. It is important to have parents involved in their children's education because one hand does not clap. We give concepts and values, but they have to practice them at home with parents' supervising. Also, I notice that a lot of the students who misbehave at the school have problems at home, so parents have to provide them with comfortable environment. (RHGT3) Moreover, most parents, even if they are illiterate, are willing to be involved in the school more if the school asked them and welcomed their participation. "I will participate if I know what should I do" (DMGP3). On the other hand, several parents believe that involvement at home is more important than being involved in the school. For example, RHGP3, who did not reach high school, said, "Home is more important to organize their time and their watching TV; it is not the school's responsibility alone to teach our children." Even though principals, teachers, and parents from distinguished and regular schools recognized the importance of involving parents in their children's schools, parents still are not involved as they should be because ''not many parents respond to me or understand their roles well in the school or at home" (RHBT3). The type of relationship between students and their parents affect parents' involvement in the school. As RHGT3 reported, "We have some students who do not respect their parents even in front of us; when we bring parents to solve their children's problems, the students start raising their voices which embarrasses the parents and us, too." 158

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Various teachers stated that they do not have enough time to communicate with parents because they have a lot of work to do, whether at school or at home. RMGT2 said, "Time, I do not have enough time to communicate with parents." Further, many mothers are not well-educated or not Arabic which also makes it hard to communicate. "The level of mothers' education does not encourage communication" (RUEGTl ). Further, DHBT3 stated that "some parents are indifferent. Sometimes, I ask a student to have his father to call me, or I give him my phone number to talk to him, and the father does not come or even call." Several parents want to participate in the school, but they do not have transportation. "Some parents are busy, and it is hard to communicate with them. Or, some do not have transportation" (DUEGTI). According to DBEBTl "some of [the parents] are shy, and they stay away from helping us" because they are not comfortable being in the school. Summary In short, school success in this study is not related to the parental involvement because parental involvement in schools was almost the same in distinguished and regular schools. These distinguished schools were successful because of other elements such as their principals' leadership style, teachers' effort, and financial support that the school receives. As DMGP said, 159

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My school is successful because of the administration. The way we deal with different people from parents to teachers, we work like a team. Also because of the high achieving students, we participate in different competitions, and we got the first places in these competitions. 160

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CHAPTER EIGHT PARENTAL INVOL VMENT IN UAE SCHOOLS This chapter summarizes the study, discusses its findings, compares them to the findings of previous studies, and provides some suggestions for the Ministry of Education, the schools, and others interested in parental involvement in schools in the UAE. This study was designed to answer these questions: 1. What types of parental involvement are present in UAE schools? 2. Is parental involvement related to successful schools in the UAE? In order to answer the study's questions, interviews were conducted with principals, teachers, and parents from distinguished schools and regular schools in Dubia, Sharjah, and Ras al-khyamah. The distinguished schools had received the Hamadan Bin Rashid AI Maktoum Award for Distinguished Academic Perfonnance for distinguished schools. In order to have a fair comparison among these schools in terms of social and economic status, level of school (whether elementary, middle, or high school), and gender, regular schools were selected from the same area, level, and gender as the distinguished schools. The sample of the study included 70 subjects-tO principals, 30 teachers, and 30 parents. They were drawn from 10 schools: four high schools for girls and boys and two middle schools for girls from Dubai, two upper elementary schools for girls 161

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from Sharjah, and two basic elementary schools for boys from Ras al-khyamah. Parental Involvement The interview questions were based on the six types of parental involvement that Moore ( 1999) and Epstein ( 1995) discussed. They identified the following types of parental involvement in the school: (a) parenting at home by taking care of children's health, their discipline, and their school attendance; (b) communicating between school and parents; (c) involving parents in classes and school activities; (d) helping children with their learning at home; (e) involving parents in making decisions in schools through the PTA or any organization that represents them; and (f) bringing schools and parents together to get the support of community organizations. According to Kellaghan, Sloane, Alvarez and Bloom (1993), the home environment is the essential element to predict the level of student achievement in schools. The results of this study revealed that principals, teachers, and parents agreed that most parents work on the first type of parental involvement. Most of the parents take care of their children at home. They give their students a motivating environment for studying, care for their student's health, and take care of their student's attendance whether in distinguished schools or regular schools. The following figure shows the types of parental involvement in UAE schools. 162

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School Activities SchoolConur.RUrication Helpms with Learning at Home Parenting at Home Figure 8.1 Parental Involvement Types in the UAE's Schools. The principals and teachers in distinguished and regular schools reported that schools try hard to reach parents, but that the parents response is very weak. However, some parents reported that the school does not contact them unless is a problem raised. This corresponds to the findings of Leitch and Tangri ( 1988). Also, parents reported that they do not get invitations to visit their children's schools. Regarding the third type of involvement, involving parents in classes and school activities, the principals, teachers, and parents reported that it is rare to have parents participate in classrooms. However, most of them, whether principals, 163

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teachers, or parents, want parents to be a part of classroom activities. Yet, some principals and teachers prefer restrictions on parents being in the classroom because of what parents might do in a classroom or what they could offer, especially because most parents are not well educated or experienced in the field of education. Further, the principals and teachers stated that few parents attend school activities, though more parents may attend when the schools have celebrations. On the other hand, some parents reported that they do not get invitations to attend the school activities, they do not have transportation, they are busy with their jobs, they have small children at home, or they are not interested because schools activities are not attractive or the parents do not feel comfortable being in the school. For helping children with their learning at home (Type 4), the principals and teachers asserted that few parents contact them to learn how they can help their children at home. Some parents said that they are able to help their children at home, especially if their children are in elementary school, and others said that they prefer that their children depend on themselves or ask their friends for help. Principals and teachers stated that parents' role in the PTA (TypeS) is advisory. Parents should make suggestions to improve the school and help the school in solving students' problems. Otherwise, parents cannot make decisions for the schools. All the principals and teachers agreed that, to have parents as policy makers in the school, the parents would have to be well educated and experienced in the education field. Moore (1991) mentioned that it is hard to involve parents as policy 164

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makers in the school if the school administration perceives parents as inexperienced and untrained. Some principals and teachers indicated that, if they involve parents in making decisions, they may focus on personal issues rather than the whole school's interest, which agrees with Lindle's (1992) findings. In fact, some parents do not know what the PTA is, and they do not attend its meetings. most parents do not want to make decisions for the school because they think that the school is doing its best to serve their children. Other parents want to be active, but they lack the opportunity and want the school to tell them what they need to do. Principals, teachers, and parents believe that community organization involvement in the school is essential (Type 6). However, principals and teachers reported that these organizations have little interest in the schools and their activities, and they want these organizations to be more active and offer some of their service to their schools. The principals and teachers think that parents could help them in reaching the community organizations through their personal communication. However, most of the parents believe that coMecting the school with community organizations is the school's job. On the second question about whether parental involvement related to successful schools in UAE, the interview data from principals, teachers, and parents show that parents are involved more with parenting at home (Type 1 ). Gradually, the other types of parental involvement, whether in the distinguished schools or the 165

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regular schools, decrease as children get older, but generally are limited to helping their children at home. Conclusion Most principals asserted that their schools are successful because of their efforts with their teachers and their students; they rarely mentioned parents' effort as part of the school success. This leads me to conclude that parental involvement does not distinguish between distinguished and regular schools in the UAE. However, all principals and teachers believe that, if parents were involved in their children's schools, their children's schools would be more successful. Thus, they want parents to be more active whether at home or in the schools. Further, some parents are willing to be more active in the schools, if they get the time and their roles are specified. Building Parental Involvement The following identify ways to build bridges between the home and schools. 1. Call parents to invite them to school activities, explain to them the importance of their participation, and prepare special activities for them (Anderson & Smith, 1999). 2. Arrange meetings between teachers and parents. Teachers can meet parents 166

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on Thursdays since Thursday is a day off for teachers and parents (several teachers suggested that). Arrange visits to parents who cannot visit the school, especially those parents who live in mountains or in rural areas, and talk with them about how they can help their children or what schools can offer for them. Provide transportation for the parents who lack transportation to come to schools. Teachers and parents could collect money to give the school bus drivers so that they bring parents to school activities or when teachers want to meet with them (several principals and teachers suggested that). In these meetings, teachers highlight problems that students face, and discuss solutions for them with parents, specify what schools want parents to do at home or in schools, listen to what parents want for their children's schools and their children, and provide for parent training. 3. Since media, particularly T.V. is more prevalent than previously, awareness of the essential role that parents can play in their children's education can be spread through the media, T.V., and newspaper, showing examples of problems that the schools face with students. Invite highly influential people such as Shaikas or religious people in the society to meetings with parents and teachers to talk about the importance of teachers' and parents' cooperation and how they can get benefit from each other. 4. Reward parents and organizations who are active in the school by 167

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recognizing their efforts in the newspaper and on T.V. Principals and teachers who observe active parents could report their effort to the educational district for to recognition providing certificates or gifts in celebrations at the schools where their children attend. S. Design courses in the Education College about communicating with parents so the future teachers can determine what they expect from parents, learn how they can reach parents and deal with their concerns, and learn effective ways to help parents help their children (Grossman, 1999; Lazer, Broderick, Mastrilli, & Slostad,l999). 6. Reward teachers who communicate with parents and involve parents in their children's education. Parental communication and support might become an expected part of teacher performance evolutions. 7. Establish a team of teachers, parents, students, and the principal to design activities to include the whole community (Epstein, 1995). This could be an open day students have the day otT, and in different activities could include teachers, parents, and community organizations. This team might meet at the beginning of each year, plan for school activities, find funding for its activities, implement its plan and evaluate the activities. 8. Provide workshops for parents about children's development, some of the problems that they might face, and provide ideas about ways to overcome obstacles in relationships between parents and their children. 168

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9. Give an allowance to teachers who are involved in parent workshops using funding support from the Ministry of Education (as suggested by several teachers). I 0. Encourage each teacher who is responsible for a class to communicate with students' parents, and ask them to report what they have achieved. 11. Specify and describe what parents are expected to do, whether at home or at school (Kreider & Lopez, 1999). For example, in the beginning of the academic year, the social worker can send letters to parents inviting them to be a volunteer, for example, planning some activities, helping in field trips, teaching computer lessons, or even overseeing exams. 12. Include parents in the students' homework by designing homework that requires parents' help, (Keith, 1992; Schnobrich, 1986; Xu & Como, 1998), such as homework about parents' job, traditions, or homework which requires parents to bring books from the library and sit with their children to explain to them how they can get information from these books. Teachers can check if parents help their children by sending cards to parents to report their help for their children, and how they help their children. 13. Invite community organizations to the school and ask them to present information and tell students what is required from them to get these jobs (Epstein, 1995). These organizations could tell students what new jobs are available to them when they finish their education and what benefits that students could get in these organizations. 169

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Needed Research Because parental involvement in selected schools did not differentiate distinguished schools and regular schools, the following research may assist in determining how to involve parents more effectively in their children's education: 1. Reexamine the nature of parental involvement, school success, and student achievement among a wider variety ofUAE schools. 2. Explore the relationship ofleadership and parental involvement in schools, either through survey or in depth interviews (Carr,l997). 3. Examine the views of students about their parents' involvement in their learning at various levels to learn how students want their parents to be involved in each level. 4. Investigate the differences between native parents and others on their types of involvement in schools and itt1 relationship to students' achievement. A Final Word This study examined the types of parental involvement in UAE schools, and whether parents' involvement contributed to school success. Principals, teachers, and parents from distinguished and regular schools were interviewed to answer the study questions. I found that distinguished schools rely on their own efforts to be successful, and almost all parents' involvement in these schools was the same. 170

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Parental involvement in UAE schools were clustered more around parenting at home and helping their children with learning at home. Most of the schools try to communicate with parents, but few respond to them. Finally, few parents attend school activities. My mission, based on my study, is to help schools and parents find effective ways to work together so that students can be more engaged in their education and take it seriously. 171

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APPENDIX A PRINCIPALS' INTERVIEW 172

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A. Parenting at Home 1. Are students in your school well cared for at home? 2. What suggests that to you? 3. Do students come to school ready to learn? 4. What indicators do you have for this? 5. Do many parents send their children to school sick or with health problems? 6. Do teachers complain about students who do not do their homework? 7. Why do you think that some parents do not help their children with homework? 8. Do you invite parents to the school to help them learn how to help their children? B. Communication Between School and Parents I. Do you invite parents to visit the school? 2. How do you do this? 3. How do you encourage teachers to communicate with parents? 4. What do you think is the best way to contact parents? 5. What do you think keeps parents from responding to your communication? C. Involving Parents in Classrooms and School Activities 1. Do you encourage parents to visit their child's classroom? 2. What do you think parents are able to offer in the classroom? 3. How do teachers respond if parents are involved in classroom activities? 4. How often do parents visit your school? 173

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5. What might keep parents from participating in school activities? 6. Do you want parents to participate in school activities? 7. How do you want parents to participate in school activities? D. Helping Children with the Learning at home 1. Do some parents visit the school to ask how they can help their chidren with a certain subject or any required activity? E. Involving a Parents in Decision Making: I. Do you have a PTA? 2. How many parents usually participate in this association? 3. How does this association influence your school? 4. What your kinds of decisions do parents make for the school? 5. What should parents do in this association? 6. Do you attend association meetings? 7. What do you want to accomplish in these meetings? F. Bringing Schools and Parents together to get Communitv Organizations' Sup_port (funding activities. materials. and speakers) 1. Do you want community organizations to help with school activities? 2. Can parents get community organizations to support the school? 3. What do you think parents should do to get support from community organizations for your school? 174

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G. General Questions 1. Do you believe that parental involvement in your school is important? Why? 2. What kind of problems do you face when you try to get parents involved with their children's education? 3. How can parents be better involved in their children's education? 4. What is a parent's role in making your school success? 5. What fells you when your school is successful? Background Infonnation 1. Gender: 2. Nationality: 3.Age: 4. Level of Education: S. Years of Experience as a principal: 175

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APPENDIXB TEACHERS' INTERVIEW 176

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A. Parenting at Home: 1. Do you have a lot of absenteeism in your classes? 2. What percentage of your students comes to class with their homework finished? 3. What percentage of your students comes to class sick or with health problems? B. Communication Between School and Parents: 1. How do you contact parents? 2. Why do you contact parents? 3. Does your principal encourage you to communicate with parents? 4. How do parents respond to your communications? 5. Does parents contact you? 6. Why do parents contact you? C. Visiting Classes and being Visible in Classroom activities: 1. How often do parents attend your classroom activities? 2. What do you think parents can do to help you in your classroom? D. Visiting Schools and Participating in the School Activities: I. What percentage of parents visits school activities? 2. What might keep parents from participating in school activities? 3. How do parents participate in the school activities? D. Involving Parents in Decision Making: 1. How many parents usually participate in PTA? 177

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2. How does this association influence you school? 3. What kinds of decisions do you wan.t parents to participate in? 4. Do you think that parents are capable of making decisions for the school? Why? E. Bringing Schools and Parents together to get community organizations' support (funding activities. materials, and meakers): 1. What kind of organizations does support school activities? 2. What do you think parents can do to get support from community organizations? 3. How do you want the community organizations to help in the school activities? G. General Questions: 1. Do you believe that parental involvement in your school is important? Why? 2. What kind of problems do you face when you try to get parents involved with their children's education? 3. How can parents be better involved in their children's education? Background Information: 1. Gender: 2. Nationality: 3.Age: 4. Level of Education: 5. Years ofExperience as a teacher: 178

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APPENDIXC PARENTS' INTERVIEW 179

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A. Parenting at Home 1. What do you do to prepare your child for school? 2. How do you help your child with her/his homework? 3. What do you do at home to make sure that your children will do their best in school? 4. Does the school tell you how you can help your children with their learning? B. Communication Between School and Parents 1. How do teachers contact you? 2. Why do teachers contact you? 3. What do you think is the best way to contact you? 4. Do you contact teachers? 5. What are you seeking when you contact teachers? 6. Do you contact the principal? 7. What are you seeking when you contact the principals? C. Involving Parents in Classroom and School Activities 1. How often do you attend your child's classroom activities? 2. What do you think you are able to offer in the classroom? 3. How do you think teachers would respond if you ask to be involved in classroom activities? 4. How often do you visit your child's school? 180

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5. What might keep you from attending school activities? 6. How do you want to participate in school activities? D. Helping Children with the Learning at home 1. Do contact teachers to know bow you can help your children with homework or any required activity? E. Involving Parents in Decision Making 1. Are you a member of PTA? 2. If not, what keeps you from participating in PTA? 3. How does this association influence the school? 4. If you participated in PTA, what kinds of decisions do you want to make for the school? F. Bringing Schools and Parents together to get Community Organizations' Sup_port (funding activities. materials, and meakersl 1. Do you work to get community organizations to support the school? 2. If so, in what ways? 3. If not, what should be done? G. General Questions 1. Do you want to be involved more with school? 2. Why do you want to be involved in the school? 3. What could keep you from being involved with school? 181

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Background Information 1. Gender: 2. Nationality: 3.Age: 4. Level of Education: 5. Number of children you have in school: 182

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APPENDIXD CONSENT FORM FOR PRINICP ALS 183

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CONSENT FORM FOR PRINCIPAL You have been selected randomly to participate in a study of parental involvement and school success in the United Arab Emirates' schools. Your participation in this study is voluntary, and you have the right not to participate in the study or to answer any question. I will not ask question could threaten your position with ministry of education or threaten your relationship with your teachers. The interview will last about one hour. Your participation is confidential, and all precautions will be taken to ensure the confidentiality of your interview. In the unlikely event that confidentiality were breached, you could possibly be embarrassed by your responses. Remember you can decline to answer any question or withdraw at any time. All interview data will be destroyed after three years. The potential benefits of the study are to learn how and why parents are actively involved in their children's education and how this might help students be successful in school. If you have any question about the study, please feel free to contact my advisor or me. Also, if you have questions about your rights as a research subjects, please contact the academic affairs office at the University of Colorado at Denver. By signing below, you agree to participate in this study and allow your interview data to become an anonymous part of the study. Shaikah AI-Taneiji (06) 885-4134 The United Arab Emirates University Education College P.O Box 15551 Research Advisor Dr. Rodney Moth University of Colorado at Denver Denver, co 80217 (303) 556-465 Academic Affairs Office CU-Denver Building Suite 700 (303) 556-2550 Signature-------------If you are interested in the study' results, please put your address below. Name Address ______________________ ____ A copy of this form will be provided to you on your request. 184

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APPENDIXE CONSENT FORM FOR TEACHERS 185

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CONSENT FORM FOR TEACHERS You have been selected randomly to participate in a study of parental involvement and school success in the United Arab Emirates' schools. Your participation in this study is voluntary, and you have the right not to participate in the study or to answer any question. I will not ask question could threaten your relationship with the principal or the ministry of education. The interview will last about one hour. You will not be identified in any way, and all precautions will be taken to ensure the confidentiality of your interview. In the unlikely event that confidentiality were breached, you could possibly be embarrassed by your responses. Also, I cannot guarantee that your answers will not harm your relationship with administration, so remember you can decline to answer any question or withdraw at any time. All interview data will be destroyed after three years. The potential benefits of the study are to learn how and why parents are actively involved in their children's education and how this might help students be successful in school. If you have any question about the study, please feel free to contact me or, my advisor. Also, if you have questions about your rights as a research subjects, please contact the academic affairs office at the University of Colorado at Denver. By signing below, you agree to participate in this study and allow your interview data to become an anonymous part of the study. Shaikah AI-Taneiji (06) 885-4134 The United Arab Emirates University Education College P.O Box 15551 Research Advisor Dr. Rodney Muth University of Colorado at Denver Denver, C080217 (303) 556-4657 Academic Affairs Office CU-Denver Building Suite 700 (303) 556-2550 Signature-------------If you are interested in the study' results, please put your address below. Name Address ________________________ A copy of this form will be provided to you on your request. 186

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APPENDIXF CONSENT FORM FOR PARENTS I I I 187 I I ,,

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CONSENT FORM FOR PARENTS You have been selected randomly to participate in a study of parental involvement and school success in the United Arab Emirates' schools. Your participation in this study is voluntary, and you have the right not to participate in the study or to answer any question. The interview will last about one hour. Your participation is anonymous. No one will be able to link your responses to you. All interview data will be destroyed after three years. The potential benefits of the study are to learn how and why parents are actively involved in their children's education and how this might help students be successful in school. If you have any questions about the study, please feel free to contact me or my advisor. Also, if you have questions about your rights as a research subject, please contact the academic affairs office at the University of Colorado at Denver. By signing below, you agree to participate in this study and allow your interview data to become an anonymous part of the study. Shaikah AI-Taneiji (06) 885-4134 The United Arab Emirates University Education College P.O Box 15551 Research Advisor Dr. Rodney Muth University of Colorado at Denver Denver, C080217 (303) 556-4657 Academic Affairs Office CU-Denver Building Suite 700 (303) 556-2550 Signature-------------If you are interested in the study' results, please put your address below. Name Address _________________ ___ A copy of this fonn will be provided to you on your request. 188

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APPENDIXG PARENTS'LEETIER 189

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Dear Parents: I am assistant teacher in the United Arab Emirates University and a Ph.D. student at the University of Colorado at Denver. I am conducting a study about parental involvement and school success. Because of the importance of your role in your children's education, I would like to interview you to learn about your involvement in their education. The results of the study will help the schools to know what you want from them and how you can help your children to be successful in their education. Your participation will be strictly confidential, and I will never reveal your identity. I will call you to learn if you are willing to participate in the study and arrange a time and place that you will be comfortable for interview. Please feel free to call me at (06) 885-4134 and ask any questions that you might have. Thank you for your willingness to participate. Shaikah AI-Taneiji 190

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