Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Education/Leadership in Urban Schools

First Advisor

Francine Menashy

Second Advisor

Wenfan Yan

Third Advisor

Alan Stoskopf


This study examined the influence of parents’ social capital on their child’s school experience by focusing on “push out” from public schools (both traditional and charter) in Boston and its impact on parents. Push out was defined as a student’s discharge from one school and enrollment in another during the same school year or between school years based on a parent’s decision to withdraw their child due to pressure, stress, or fear of consequence from the school. The study used a sequential mixed-methods design comprising a self-administered questionnaire and semi-structured interviews. The quantitative results showed that race and gender were salient factors related to student push out. Social capital variables differed significantly between parents reporting school change for reasons tied to push out and those not reporting school change for these reasons. These variables pointed to: gaps between parents and schools; parents having an informed vision for their child’s future and actively sharing their expectations; parents having awareness and mindfulness related to their child; and parents deliberately connecting to their child’s school and other parents. The qualitative results demonstrated that social capital contributed to parents’ navigation of the school environment by ensuring they had information for engaging with their child’s school, and that parents used their relationship with their child to monitor the school environment and intervene. Notably, social capital did not influence how parents made sense of push out but rather how they recovered from it, though parents’ options did depend on their access to information, resources, accommodations, and support networks. The findings have practical implications for parents and accountability agencies. Parent action translates to increased visibility within the school, greater parental awareness, added protection for the child, and increased strategic capacity for parents to intervene when challenges and conflicts surface. The results also have implications for local and state educational agencies seeking to address push out as an outcome of an inequitable, racialized educational system.


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