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This thesis explores the history of two efforts during the past half-century to enhance parental input in public schooling: the Community Control movement in Ocean Hill-Brownsville in 1968 and the formation of Parent Nation in Pittsburgh Public Schools in 2012-2013. I use a combination of historical and field research methods (observations, interviews) to explore the two case studies. The events leading to the Ocean Hill-Brownsville Teachers Strike of 1968 exemplified high parental involvement in school decision making, in a context of sharp political and racial conflict. The formation of Parent Nation in Pittsburgh occurred in a very different political and cultural environment and, crucially, one in which the role of charter schools has fundamentally transformed modern educational discourse. While the Ocean Hill-Brownsville and Pittsburgh stories differ greatly, both are valuable for demonstrating the complexities inherent in all efforts, past and present, to significantly enlarge parents’ voice in educational decision making.


Advisor: Steven Schlossman

Department of History

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