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Immigration, Motherhood and Parental Involvement

Narratives of Communal Agency in the Face of Power Asymmetry


Lilian Cibils

Immigration, Motherhood and Parental Involvement is based on the vivid accounts of seven Latina immigrant women of how they learned to navigate the school system in the rural southwest of the United States. Their stories are presented within several contexts, the socio-political conditions of immigration overarching them all. The process of acquiring a new socio-cultural script offers a common frame to the narratives, which illustrate the central role of the community in finding spaces for agency in circumstances of vulnerability. As a contribution to educational theory, this book explores the official discourse of parental involvement within the broader context of social policy by pointing to a common underlying ideal parent norm across areas of policy related to family and women. It also revisits the concept of parental involvement through contrasting ideologies of motherhood, as it applies the concept of participation parity in everyday institutional interactions as a fundamental measure of social justice. Immigration, Motherhood and Parental Involvement offers deep insight into the institutionalized patterns of formal inclusion/informal exclusion in the relationship of schools with Latina immigrant mothers, even within the best intended programs. Its focus on the persistent need for the implementation of culturally and linguistically sensitive approaches to home-school relations makes this a must-read for undergraduate and graduate courses in teacher education, education leadership and sociology of education. Teachers, administrators and policymakers committed to moving away from the prevalent view of mothers as people who mainly need to be educated also need to read this book.

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Chapter 3. Seven Women: Seven Stories



Seven Women

Seven Stories

From its beginnings, feminist scholarship has been concerned with recovering what has been lost, with telling stories. In fact, feminist scholarship has been largely defined by its political stance—­its attempt to know the world differently, to recover what has been hidden and lost, in order to contribute to the building of a more just world for women and men. (Middleton & Weiler, 1999, p. 4)

Before starting this journey into the issues surrounding parental involvement, its definitions and its interpretations as they relate to the reality of Latina immigrant women, it is important to introduce the seven protagonists of this book: Norma, Sandra, Luisa, Patricia, Silvia, Susana, and Brenda. The reader will become familiar with each of their stories which breathe life to this book and create a space for critical reflection on the meaning of parental involvement. Each one of the sketches of these seven immigrant women intends to capture some of the salient moments in their narratives, which we will explore in more detail later as we set them side by side the official discourse and the ideology behind it.←35 | 36→

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