• The Right to Voice: Its Realization by Estonian and American Parents in Public Schools
  • Elliott, Katrin <1975>


  • SPS/04 Scienza politica


  • Investigating parents’ formal engagement opportunities in public schools serves well to characterize the relationship between states and societies. While the relationship between parental involvement and students’ academic success has been thoroughly investigated, rarely has it been seen to indicate countries’ governing regimes. The researcher was curious to see whether and how does parents’ voice differ in different democracies. The hypothesis was that in mature regimes, institutional opportunities for formal parental engagement are plenty and parents are actively involved; while in young democracies there are less opportunities and the engagement is lower. The assumption was also that parental deliberation in expressing their dissatisfaction with schools differs across democracies: where it is more intense, there it translates to higher engagement. Parents’ informedness on relevant regulations and agendas was assumed to be equally average, and their demographic background to have similar effects on engagement. The comparative, most different systems design was employed where public middle schools last graders’ parents in Tartu, Estonia and in Huntsville, Alabama the United States served as a sample. The multidimensional study includes the theoretical review, country and community analyses, institutional analysis in terms of formal parental involvement, and parents’ survey. The findings revealed sizeable differences between parents’ engagement levels in Huntsville and Tartu. The results indicate passivity in both communities, while in Tartu the engagement seems to be alarmingly low. Furthermore, Tartu parents have much less institutional opportunities to engage. In the United States, multilevel efforts to engage parents are visible from local to federal level, in Estonia similar intentions seem to be missing and meaningful parental organizations do not exist. In terms of civic education there is much room for development in both countries. The road will be longer for a young democracy Estonia in transforming its institutional systems from formally democratic to inherently inclusive.


  • 2013-06-10


  • Doctoral Thesis
  • PeerReviewed


  • application/pdf



Elliott, Katrin (2013) The Right to Voice: Its Realization by Estonian and American Parents in Public Schools, [Dissertation thesis], Alma Mater Studiorum Università di Bologna. Dottorato di ricerca in Diversity management and governance , 25 Ciclo. DOI 10.6092/unibo/amsdottorato/5863.