Saint Louis University

Two faculty members recently completed research with the aid of a faculty grant program which provides the opportunity to conduct research to further scholarship, professional practice or policy in the field of public education with a particular emphasis on charter schools. The grant is sponsored by the Office of Charter School Sponsorship.

Christopher Witko, Ph.D., associate professor of political science, analyzed national data to see how increasing school choice influenced parental engagement in schools. He found that in areas with more choice parents remained just as involved in activities related to their child's own education, such as attending parent-teacher conferences, but that involvement in collective activity, like the PTA declined. This suggests that as choice expands and parents increasingly have the ability to flee schools they are dissatisfied with, educators will need to work hard to keep parents involved in collective school activities.

Kira Banks, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychology, participated in the program as part of a three-year research design focused on understanding the challenges and success of administrators of charter schools with a commitment to being racially and socioeconomically diverse, as well as understanding the experiences of teachers, and parents at such schools. This portion of Banks' research was conducted at City Garden Montessori Charter School, one of three Saint Louis University-sponsored charter schools.

Faculty interested in learning more about the grant program or who would like to participate can contact Martha McGeehon, director of Charter School Sponsorship at mmcgeeho@slu.edu or at 314-977-2232.

For more information about either Witko's or Banks' research, contact them directly. Witko can be contacted at cwitko@slu.edu, and Banks at kbanks7@slu.edu.