Drawing on a 5-year qualitative study, this article explores opportunities for and barriers to parental engagement in a small, urban school district. Two competing narratives of parental involvement emerge. In one, parents describe their reluctance to engage formally in a district that continually fails their children. In the other, stakeholders argue that schools will not improve until parents become involved. Data demonstrate that many parents actively support their children’s education, exhibiting various forms of what Yosso terms “community cultural wealth.” This article concludes by questioning the claim that parents are not involved, utilizing Bourdieu’s theories of symbolic capital and symbolic violence to explain the prevalence of this discourse of disengagement.
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