chapter  15
—Family, School, and Community Partnerships
Pages 24

In the age of performance-based assessment and academic achievement, we have high expectations of our teachers and schools. Additionally, school personnel hold a significant amount of responsibility for the care and well-being of our children. However, over the past 20 years there has been an increased emphasis on the importance of partnering with families and communities to foster better educational outcomes for children in schools. Ecological systems theory (Bronfenbrenner, 1992) is among the perspectives that help researchers recognize the family and community as significant influences on the development of children and adolescents. This theory also provides a foundation for research and clinical work on cultural diversity, cultural competence, multiculturalism, and social justice. All of these constructs are directly connected. According to Shriberg et al. (2008), social justice is derived from the earlier scholarship on multiculturalism. As defined in North (2006) and also in Chapter 1 of this book, social justice is a framework that is based on the belief that all individuals and groups have a right to fairness and respect and are entitled to the same resources that are available to others. If school psychologists are to function using this framework, then it makes perfect sense for school psychologists to lead the efforts in advocating for and empowering families to seek equity in schools (Pearrow & Pollack, 2009). As such, school psychologists can attempt to identify “institutional and systemic obstacles” that inhibit opportunities for equity in schools (Shriberg et al., 2008, p. 465). By identifying barriers and advocating for families, communication can be reorganized in a way that optimally bridges the gap between schools, families, and communities and leads to a true “systems” perspective with opportunities for shared responsibility. As a result, the school can be restructured into a collaborative community that operates through a social justice framework. Thinking systemically then can be considered synonymous with acting as an agent of social justice (Shriberg et al., 2008).