Date of Award

Spring 5-19-2018

Degree Type


Degree Name

EdD Education Leadership, Management and Policy


Education Leadership, Management and Policy


Carolyn Sattin-Bajaj, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Luke Stedrak, Ed.D.

Committee Member

Elise Boddie, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Sabrina Marie Chase, Ph.D.


Black parent involvement strategies, racism in schools, Black moms, parental agency, agency


This qualitative study examined African American mothers’ perceptions of their children’s schools (public, charter, and private) within the context of institutional, structural, and individual racism. Employing qualitative techniques, interviews and focus groups of middle to lower working class Black mothers were conducted to explore their lived experiences with individual, institutional, and structural racism within American schools. The goal of this study was to learn how these mothers make meaning of the educational institutions that serve their children, the racial barriers they encountered and the strategies of contestation they employed in order to address these perceived barriers.

The results of the study show that participants with children across all school types affirmatively perceived forms of systematic racial barriers in their children’s schools that impeded their children’s social and academic progress. Overall, mothers felt there is a decline in education for Black students in the 21st century due to existing racial barriers. Mothers’ views on racism in 21st century schools ranged from schools being un-affirming to hostile, exclusionary, and culturally disconnected institutions, which sometimes left Black children and families feeling distant, invisible, or emotionally unsafe. Teachers and school officials were seen as perpetuators of 21st century racial barriers across residential districts and SES. Lastly, in response to racial barriers, African American mothers employed a variety of specific and reusable parent involvement strategies to contest racism.