Academic journal article High School Journal

Creating Successful Academic Programs for Chicana/o High School Migrant Students: The Role of Advocate Educators

Academic journal article High School Journal

Creating Successful Academic Programs for Chicana/o High School Migrant Students: The Role of Advocate Educators

Article excerpt

This qualitative case study examines the educational struggles of Texas based Chicana/o high school migrant students and the noteworthy array of actions, responses, and relationship dynamics that result from the work of advocate educators. As migrant students move across our nation and enroll in high schools, they demand unique approaches that are rooted in educators' abilities to understand the migrant community and the curricular, instructional and support system needs of migrancy. Findings suggest that the participants included in this study had inherent and explicit understandings of the interplay between themselves and the Chicana/o high school migrant students they served. Likewise we also contend that they knew how to alter or circumvent detrimental schooling practices by acting as agents of change, developing alternative schooling experiences, and valuing the human resources found within the migrant educational community. The archetype of an advocate educator yields an approach and understanding that promotes an indispensable duality in serving Chicana/o high school migrant students.

Key Words: Chicana/o Migrant Education, High school, Advocacy, ESEA

Introduction

Chicana/o (1) high school migrant students signify some of the most intricate and complex dynamics in secondary schools. Driven by agricultural seasons, migrants are at the behest of harvesting seasons that sustain their family livelihood. Each fall and spring, Chicana/o migrant students arrive late and leave early from the academic school year. High schools may or may not have migrant education programs that work to transfer school records, accelerate instruction, and accrue credits. With the absence of such academic and/or social support services, educators labor to track down records and credits, match progress from one curricula or school schedule to another, and determine/encourage migrant students high school graduation/post-graduation plans. Moreover, the entanglement of interstate and intrastate practices and policies is both convoluted and relatively overwhelming to many educators. Unfortunately, in many ways, the linguistic and cultural needs of the Chicana/o migrant community continue to outpace the decades of reform and mandated programs (Salinas & Franquiz, 2004).

Yet despite the challenges of frequent mobility, educators in many high school campuses view migrant students as a composite of valuable resources and experiences. We can find exemplars of counselors and administrators committed to the ideals of community empowerment and self-determination, and educational success for Chicana/o migrant students. We propose that the duality of their responsibility as advocate educators encompasses two important dimensions. First the role of advocate educator is rooted in values and ideals of el movimiento (the movement). Inspired by Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta's effort to unionize farm workers, el moviemento prompted the creation of other organizations and a "political theater" that helped articulate the needs and demands of many Chicanas/os throughout the nation. Conscious or not of the history of oppression and exclusion, advocates work to constructively gain political power and collective recognition on behalf of the migrant children they work with in public schools (Trueba, 1999). Second, the role of advocate educator means to operate within communities that "have an idea about where they are and where they would like to be; achieve goals creatively, rather than reactively, and take risks to move beyond the margins of the status quo" (Reyes, Scribner, & Paredes, 1999, p.5). Amassing valuable knowledge, the combined role of advocate educator provides for the unique needs of Chicana/o high school migrant students. Thus we are prompted to explore the practices and understandings of the advocate educator--roles counselors and administrators maintain in their efforts to create successful academic programs for Chicana/o high school migrant students. …

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