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Course number Critiques # Thomson, P., Ellison, L., Byrom, T., & Bulman, D., (March 2007). Invisible labor: Home-school relations and the front office. Gender and Education. 19, (2): 141-58. This article exposes a gaping hole in public relations studies in that it shows the high level of involvement the front office staff has in the school's public relations with the surrounding community and the low level of attention these staff members receive regarding training, payment, and during the recruitment process…
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Download file to see previous pages The authors establish their case by first reviewing the available literature regarding how front office work is represented within school public relations research. They reveal numerous studies that examine the roles of parents or caregivers in student learning, looking at the "triad" of parent/carer, teacher and student, completely by-passing the front office as a potential participant. The researchers do provide one example of a study conducted in 1991 that is similar to their own inquiry, but point out that the data is relatively outdated. In spite of this, they use this outdated study to help support their own conclusions later in the article. These researchers also point out that a few studies have referenced front office work as an occasional participant in helping shape parents' overall experiences of educational practices. To illustrate how these studies have looked at the front office, the researchers go into a lengthier discussion of four sample studies that they found. These sample studies tended to show the front office as a negative impediment to school-to-home relations. ...
Another sample study showed the negative role the front office must play as gate-keepers of the school, frequently translated within parents' minds as impeding their ability to participate in their child's education and actually the result of inadequate communication between administration and parents regarding school policies, again demonstrating the front office as an ignored space. The other studies mentioned describe the importance of a welcoming entrance to the school, but focus on the architecture and entry procedures without giving any attention to the personnel that carry out these functions. The researchers effectively demonstrate that while the job of the office workers might be valued, the workers themselves are largely ignored or viewed in a negative light. The study the article reports on was conducted by gathering a great deal of school documents and parent/administrator/staff interviews, and observations. Although the study was not intended to be focused exclusively on front office work, its primary purpose, to examine how to build good home-school relations, revealed this gap in understanding. The researchers point out that the study sample was not representative, but their findings seem widely applicable. Within all of the collected material, there was a great deal of information about what was expected of parents and how the front office played a role in various activities relating to the children, but none of the office staff were ever mentioned by name or specific area of the front office itself. Because the focus of the study was not originally intended to be about the front office work and the invisible role of front office staff, questions pertaining to these ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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