Listening to Parents' Voices: Participatory Action Research in the Schools

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How can schools and parents work together more effectively? This article describes a participatory action research (PAR) project with a group of parents whose children had been classified as having emotional disabilities. As the parents shared their stories of trying to navigate the special education system, they developed critical consciousness about their experiences of stress, powerlessness, and alienation. They became mobilized and obtained information about testing, diagnostic classification, and educational options for their children. Armed with this information, they developed and implemented an action plan to improve family-school relationships at the local, community, and state levels. The article concludes with an example of how the PAR model can be exported to a variety of mental health settings.

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