Role of the Researcher
The night I asked June, Lester, and Vicky for permission to publish my work with them with LEA was a hot summer night, a year after the research had formally ended. A dozen people sat outside of the apartment building, scattered across the stoop and in plastic folding chairs on the sidewalk. June's youngest child was in her lap, rubbing his eyes and trying to find a comfortable place to take a nap; the rest of her children and the neighborhood children were dumping the water from an inflatable pool onto the sidewalk. June and I discussed how Vicky was doing in school. June said she was doin' real good at the high school, staying out of trouble. June looked at me and smiled. "Remember that meeting we went to?" she asked me. "I do," I replied. She shook her head, "They didn't even let me talk in that meeting." "I wrote about that." "You did?" I nodded my head. "I also wrote about how you did not want Vicky in a special-education class and how she got put in there. I looked at the language in that meeting to show why you weren't allowed to speak—or why I wasn't allowed to speak." Evan got off of June's lap and came over to mine. He crawled into my lap where the top of his head rested under my chin. He played with my watch, unhooking it and then fastening it again. "I was hurtin' that day. My sinuses were killing me." I knew June was thinking about the day in the CSE room when she started to cry. "I think you were also hurt because Vicky was placed in a special- education class and you didn't want her to be." June, looking down the street at the kids lifting the half-empty inflatable pool in the air, said, "Uh huh."
I thought about the visit to the middle school counselor when June had started crying as she said, "I just don't want her in special ed." My heart broke when this happened. I thought about how in June's own life school had been connected with painful experiences. She relived those experiences through her children. As I asked June about her experiences with and history with reading, she would often cry. I wondered if my presence in her and her children's life had caused more pain through my endless questioning, observations, interviews, and interventions. Oftentimes, it seemed like June did not want to talk about school and reading. Who could blame her? I was a reminder of her desire for upward mobility through education and even I had failed her. And yet, when she introduces me to people in her family network, she will say, "This is Becky. She worked with Vicky and with