Parent involvement in education? A Foucauldian discourse analysis of school newsletters
(2021) Power and Education, 13 (2), pp. 58-72.
The Ontario Ministry of Education (2010) puts forth parent involvement as a solution for underachievement and as a resource for building better schools. A Foucauldian discourse analysis of school newsletters reveals that efforts to engage parents also function as a neoliberal strategy designed to govern parents. Using Foucault’s theory of governmentality, I show how the newsletters compel parents to invest in their children’s schooling and judge their value as parents in relation to their ability to produce good neoliberal citizens. I discuss how the newsletters depict ‘good’ parents as those who: (1) do not offer input into schooling; (2) make education a parenting priority and (3) raise good neoliberal citizens. The newsletters represent a strategy for cultivating neoliberal parents who do not ask more from schools and instead demand more of themselves in terms of preparing their children for school and for life. Problems with this approach are that: it asks parents to take up their children’s schooling in ways that push out other family priorities and it shuts down potential collaborations between parents and schools that could challenge neoliberal subjecthood. I call for reformulating discourses of ‘good’ involvement in ways that allow for more equal parent–school partnerships. © The Author(s) 2021.
education; neoliberal governmentality; Parent involvement; partnership; school newsletters