14 SES 04 B, Professionals' Perceptions and Role in School-community Learning Projects
Since education is a collaborative work based on community support, school community relations has become a significant topic for schools. As defined by Kowalski (2000), school community relations refers to “an evolving social science and leadership process that enhance the public’s attitude toward the value of education, augment interaction and two way symmetrical communication between schools and their ecosystems” (p. 11). A positive association between the school and the community is important to create a supportive environment for education. Also, school success is asserted to be associated with strong school community relations (Epstein, 2001; Morris, Chan & Patterson, 2009). As stated by Fan (2001) and Fan and Chen (2001), increased student achievement is related to more frequent parent teacher communication. Specifically, school community members including parents of students play a key role in enhancing collaborative school community relations and promote school success. Furthermore, the better parent-teacher communication is, the better student school attendance will be (Epstein & Sheldon, 2002). Meaningful and productive school-parent communication is tended to foster students’ academic performance and their socio-emotional skills (Antonopoulou, Koutrouba & Babalis, 2011; Hill & Taylor, 2004; Jeynes, 2005; Zhan, 2006). However, poor parental involvement in school activities leads to a major challenge to educating students in school (Voltz, 1998). Besides, parents with low socioeconomic background may be associated with low level of involvement in the education of their children (Brough & Irvin, 2001; Lawson, 2003).
It is obvious that education is not a process restricted only at schools. Since students spend most of their time at schools and the rest with their parents, their success at school may be related with the characteristics of his family and their failure may seen due to their parents’ inadequate participation in education. Therefore, parents can be seen as the most indispensible parties for schools to enhance continuance cooperation. Besides, teachers and the school principals are in the forefront of enhancing a positive school community relation (Morris et al., 2009; Cunningham, 2002; Zhiding, Jiang, Xu & Chan). Thus, their perceptions about school parent relations may help to determine the problems in the participation of parents in education and the strategies they use to ensure school community relations. Furthermore, school community relations have recently become a significant topic that has gained importance in schools. However, studies carried out on this issue in Turkey are mostly theoretical and there is limited research examining the level of school community relations, problems of school community relations and strategies to improve these relations.
In this context, the purpose of this study was to investigate perceptions of educators on school community relations in Turkey.The following research questions were developed to guide the process of this study:
1. How do educators rank school community relationship problems among the top educational issues in their schools?
2. How do educators perceive the status of school parent relationship?
3. How do educators perceive the contributions of parent-teacher associations?
4. What strategies do educators use to improve school community relationship?
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