Bilingual Education and Identity Debates in New Mexico: Constructing and Contesting Nationalism and Ethnicity

By Nunez-Janes, Mariela | Journal of the Southwest, Spring 2002 | Go to article overview

Bilingual Education and Identity Debates in New Mexico: Constructing and Contesting Nationalism and Ethnicity


Nunez-Janes, Mariela, Journal of the Southwest


On August 27, 1998, in a lecture hall located at the University of New Mexico, Linda Chavez, president of the Center for Equal Opportunity (CEO), a politically conservative organization supportive of the English-only movement, and self-identified nuevomexicana, declared to an auditorium filled with educators and parents that she was very glad finally to come home. Her homecoming, however, rather than being a joyous occasion was accompanied by very tense demonstrations of disapproval. As a local Hispana, (1) Linda Chavez came home to defend the CEO's role in a lawsuit against the Albuquerque Public Schools' (APS) bilingual education program. She came home to explain what in the eyes of many of her opponents is the most atrocious ethnic sin--"selling out." Demonstrators who also attended the lecture directly and publicly denounced Linda Chavez and her supporters as the ultimate transgressors of Hispano identity. How can a self-identified Hispana dedicate her life to defending a position that seems to attack this identity at its core? How can a self-proclaimed ethnic also be a cultural sellout?

My initial reaction to Chavez was to condemn her for her accommodationist proposals. However, careful consideration of her position, particularly in the context of ethnic relations in New Mexico, reveals that behind this assimilationist stance lies a strategy that also serves to challenge and resist the lower status accorded to Latinos in the United States. This analysis of Linda Chavez's proposal will allow us to begin to understand the commonalties that lie behind the issues that on the surface divide Hispano proponents and opponents of bilingual education in New Mexico. In this paper, I will highlight the local workings of national ideologies in the construction of oppositional identifies by indicating their connection with the national debate on bilingual education. Both sides of this debate share a similar goal of survival that attempts to overcome the gaze of Anglo domination. I suggest that in this case, the cleavages between these two groups stem from the terms and strategies used to achieve this objective. I propose that a careful exploration of this local bilingual education dilemma can help us understand how ethno-national boundaries are negotiated through public ethnic performances. I thus suggest that in this case the players involved, despite their differences, all contest the terms of national inclusion and exclusion used in the ethnic representations of what Southwestern scholars have termed as the tri-ethnic myth. The marking by proponents of bilingual education, and unmarking by opponents of bilingual education, of Hispano identity constitute in both cases a resistant as well as an accommodationist strategy in reaction to the exclusive terms of American nationalism and local Anglo domination.

BILINGUAL EDUCATION IN NEW MEXICO AND THE APS LAWSUIT

Before moving on to an analysis of the events that took place in August 1998, let me take a brief yet important detour to summarize the struggles and policies that helped shape the arguments leading to the lawsuit. A recent report sponsored by New Mexico Senator Jeff Bingaman revealed that Hispanic students are three times more likely than Anglos to drop out of school. The same study concluded that currently Hispanics have the highest dropout rate of all ethnic minorities and pointed out that this pattern is locally replicated in APS (Franck n.d.). During the 1996-97 school year, 11.9 percent of Hispanic students in APS dropped out in comparison to 8.21 percent of Anglo students. Nationally and locally the educational future of Latino students continues to look very dismal to say the least. The reversal of such a bleak future constitutes an important battle for parents, educators, grassroots organizers, and educational theorists and researchers who support bilingual education programs.

The implementation of bilingual education can be linked to wider movements that tried to achieve educational desegregation and equal opportunity during the civil rights era. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Bilingual Education and Identity Debates in New Mexico: Constructing and Contesting Nationalism and Ethnicity
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.