Critical Voices in School Reform: Students Living through Change

By Beth C. Rubin; Elena M. Silva | Go to book overview

Chapter 6

Apprenticing urban youth as critical researchers

Implications for increasing equity and access in diverse urban schools

Anthony M. Collatos and Ernest Morrell


Introduction

Jaime: Using the methodology of the sociology of education, political theory, and lived experience we are helping and making a difference in our lives and in the lives of others to come. Through the Futures program we had the opportunity to gain access to things that we normally would not have. Their goal was to help us achieve a higher education and with this in mind we visited colleges around California that we normally would not because of issues like transportation, money, or just not having the essential information, resources, and lack of access. Through this program I had many opportunities that I would never have had. I plan to major in sociology to create programs like these and help students of color have access to an equal and fair education …

(Conference Presentation, April 2001)

It is no secret that race, class, and ethnicity play a major role in determining access to college (McDonough, 1997; Wilds, 2000). Each year, countless intervention programs are created to equalize access to college with minimal results (Gandara and Bial, 2001; Perna and Swail, 1998; Swail, 1999). Often these programs begin with deficit assumptions about marginalized students, their families and communities, and seek to either transmit information or transform the habits of these students to increase access. Dissatisfied with deficit and subtractive (Valenzuela, 1999) approaches to college access, a team of university researchers and high school teachers looked toward critical sociology (Bourdieu, 1986; Bourdieu and Wacquant, 1992) to design a project that simultaneously increased college access for its participants and disrupted the system that perpetually provided unequal access to low-income students of color.

The James Madison Futures Project was created to apprentice urban teens as critical sociologists within a community of practice consisting of students, teachers, parents, university researchers, and community organizers. As investigators and educators, we intended to help students use

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