Latinx Parents’ Funds of Knowledge: Participation throughout the IEP Process
thesisposted on 01.08.2019, 00:00 by Joseph R Passi
Despite ample evidence that parent participation is beneficial to the education of individuals with disabilities, language, culture, and class can be barriers to parent participation in the IEP process. Parent participation is especially vital to the inclusion of historically marginalized communities, where access to social and cultural capital might inhibit participation. While numerous studies have documented barriers to parent participation, very few studies have explored parents’ funds of knowledge as a way of authentically including their knowledge and voice in the IEP process. The purpose of this phenomenological study was to gather the life histories, schooling experiences, and family and cultural knowledge of seven Latinx mothers in order to understand their lived experiences participating in the IEP process. Parents’ struggles to navigate explicit and implicit challenges in school and family systems reveal intentional choices, along with robust commitments to access social and cultural capital. Thematic analyses revealed that mothers used diverse approaches to generate meaning and resist unfair treatment of children with disabilities, often manifesting in complex counter-narratives on concepts of disability, culture, and child rearing. These findings have implications for practitioners and researchers. For practitioners, gathering parents’ funds of knowledge, reframing the IEP process as a civic activity, and emulating pedagogical relations between mother and child can be catalysts for meaningful participation. This study also adds to a small but substantive collection of extant empirical studies that shows the value of exploring lived experience as a means of adding depth to understandings of parent participation in the IEP process.