Date of Award




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Department of Educational Policy and Leadership

Content Description

1 online resource (vi, 194 pages) : PDF file, illustrations (1 color)

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Heinz D Meyer

Committee Members

Alan Wagner, George Kamberelis


discourse, parents, partnership, relationships, teachers, tensions, Parent-teacher relationships, Education, Home and school

Subject Categories

Educational Administration and Supervision | Secondary Education


Despite a historically unprecedented increase in advocacy for parental involvement in education in recent decades, parents continue to express dissatisfaction with their communication with teachers, while teachers continue to identify their interactions with parents as a source of tension and stress. While the practitioner literature recommends parent-teacher collaboration as an attainable goal, the theoretical literature suggests that, given the structural asymmetries of parent-teacher relationships, open communication may be impossible. Via unstructured interviews with parents and teachers of suburban secondary students, this study explored the structural limitations on authentic parent-teacher communication. A two-layered analytic approach combined thematic analysis and narrative discourse analysis of interview data collected from parents and teachers. Findings suggest that while parents and teachers must negotiate conflicts in a social arena that advocates equality and collaboration, the institutional differences in their respective roles and positions prevents the realization of the partnership ideal. Findings suggest teachers' stronger structural positions may stem from greater status, authority and power and reveal teachers' use of defensive routines to maintain their superior positions. Parents appeared to experience limited success in overcoming their imbalance of power with teachers and in negotiating what they perceived as desirable outcomes for their children. Both parents and teachers described their relationships as temporary and wary alliances, invoking the partnership ideal only as a rhetorical device utilized to buttress their position.