Evelyn Larios

Major and Classification

Sociology and Public Policy, Management and Planning

Faculty Mentor

Veronica Terriquez, Ph.D.


Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, School of Policy, Planning and Development

McNair Project

“Labor Unions: A Contextual Factor in Parents’ School Involvement”

Project Abstract

A considerable amount of research has looked at how well students fare in the U.S. education system with less attention given to parent involvement in schools. Research on parental involvement has assumed that parents are an isolated people who do not actively interact with schools (Lareau 2000). Additionally, class and race have been used extensively as predictors of parents’ involvement in schools. Such research shows that compared to U.S. born parents, working-class and immigrant parents tend to participate less in their children’s schools. These parents often lack the cultural capital to intervene on behalf of their children (Lareau 2000) or they encounter language and institutional barriers that limit their involvement in schools (Turney and Kao 2009). However, research shows that organizations, such as labor unions, can provide working-class and immigrant parents with tools such as information, communication, problem -solving skills, and other civic skills (Putnam 1995; Wong 2006) needed to incorporate themselves in their children’s school. Semi-structured interviews with union parents and survey data from the Los Angeles Parent Study suggest that union parents are, in fact, actively involved in their children’s education. Interviews, showed that active union parents incorporate skills learned from their unions in schools. Among Latino immigrant union parents these skills helped them navigate their children’s school systems by allowing them to overcome barriers that may have otherwise hindered their participation in schools.