Academic journal article Educational Foundations

Examining Education for Latinas/os in Chicago: A CRT/LatCrit Approach

Academic journal article Educational Foundations

Examining Education for Latinas/os in Chicago: A CRT/LatCrit Approach

Article excerpt

Introduction

Schools are social institutions that mirror the larger society. In the United States (U.S.), a compulsory public school system was developed to address the needs of industry, speaking to the direct effect society has on the creation and purpose of schooling. "Far from creating independent thinkers, schools have always, throughout history, played an institutional role in a system of control and coercion" (Macedo in Chomsky, 2000, p 3). The general purpose of public schools has not changed since its inception-students continue to be educated to accept ideologies that serve the needs of the dominant class. Yet, the purpose of schooling has been contested throughout the history of the U.S. by both dominant groups and the oppressed.

This article will explore the sociopolitical context of education policy, particularly as it relates to Latina/o education. We will highlight the status of Latina/os within the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) to examine the impact of education policy designed to benefit few and disenfranchise most. The authors draw attention to the injustices of Latinas/os in CPS and examine this status within a Critical Race Theory (CRT) and Critical Latino Theory (LatCrit) framework. CRT helped us create a space that will highlight the resistance and hope of Latina/os in CPS while uncovering the struggle and injustice. Furthermore, we will draw from the lens of LatCrit (Solorzano & Bernal, 2001) to situate our research within a paradigm that speaks to Latina/o school experiences in a very specific way. CRT and LatCrit encompass all of the same assumptions and underpinnings (Villalpando, 2004), but LatCrit provides a context for the social, historical, and political reception and impact of Latina/os in the U.S., and provides theoretical space to analyze experiences of language and immigration among other lived experiences rooted in the resistance and oppression of Latinas/os.

In the last thirty years, the response of public schools to policy mandates stemming from the Civil Rights Movement that were intended to protect the rights of people of color, including Latina/os, sheds light on how little has changed in the structure and function of schools. From the time we were allowed to obtain an education in the same system as the dominant class and race, marginalized groups have been told that schools are vehicles to equal opportunity; schools have even been described as "the great equalizer." The Latina/o population is by and large, young, and the erosion of equality in American schooling has hit it hard. However, the struggle for school equity for Latina/os has been coupled with a strong history of resistance rooted in community and grassroots organizing. As Spring (1991) states;

   From World War II to the 1990s [and today], Native Americans,
   Puerto Ricans, African Americans and Mexican Americans have
   demanded that public schools recognize their distinct cultures and
   incorporate these cultures into curricula and textbooks. (p. 195)

The struggle for equity in education for Latina/os has not ended. While some schools and school districts have made affirmative efforts to fully include the life experiences and histories of the students they serve, the vast majority of public schools serving Latinas/os have not done so (Valenzuela, 1999). Furthermore, while progressive educators have made some gains to better serve Latina/os during the 1960s and 1970s, the sharp conservative turn in the 1980s laid the foundation for many school policies and practices that worked against the gains made in areas such as culturally inclusive curricula and bilingual education. For this paper, we have focused on the inequities that clearly disenfranchise Latina/o students by drawing on two editions of a previous research project (Aviles, Capeheart, Davila, & Miller, 2004) and (Aviles, Capeheart, Davila, Miller, & Rodriguez-Lucero, 2006) which is discussed further in our methods section (We will refer to these reports as Dando 2004 and Dando 2006 for the duration of this paper). …

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