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Citation:Farkas, S., & Johnson, J. (1998). Time to move on: African American and White parents set an agenda for public schools. Public Agenda & Public Education Network: New York, NY.

This study reports the results of in-depth telephone surveys of 800 African American parents and 800 White parents about their educational aspirations and concerns for their children. Surveyors found that for African American parents, the most important goal for public schools was academic achievement for their children. They valued integration, but believed it should be less of a priority than a solid education that prepares their child for the future. They expressed commitment to promoting diversity in schools, but had concerns about the politics and policies that are used to achieve diversity. African American parents also communicated deep anxiety about the quality of public schools and the education that their children are receiving. The survey findings also indicated that White parents desired African American children to receive a good education, but expressed concerns about the tenuous quality of public schools. Although they were uncomfortable admitting it, many expressed fears that an influx of African American students could bring social and academic problems to their childrenÕs school. African American and White parents had very similar visions, however, of what it takes to educate kids: Òinvolved parents, top-notch staff and schools that guarantee the basics, high academic expectations and standards, safety and order.Ó The samples of African American and White parents were selected from households with children in k-12 using complex randomization procedures. In preparation for the survey, researchers held eight focus groups across the country and conducted interviews with 22 experts in the field. The questionnaire was subject to rigorous pre-testing: first with a small number of parents via individual face-to-face interviews; then with 31 interviews via telephone. Nearly two-dozen, open-ended follow-up interviews were conducted with respondents who had completed the survey. Authors report that Asian and Hispanic parents were not included due to funding limitations and based on the decision to focus sharply on very specific questions about race, and devote ample time and attention to exploring this issue. This study does not discuss parent involvement, except that it reports parentsÕ educational aspirations and priorities for their children.

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