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PAR EntreMundos

A Pedagogy of the Américas


Edited By Jennifer Ayala, Julio Cammarota, Margarita I. Berta-Ávila, Melissa Rivera, Louie F. Rodríguez and María Elena Torre

PAR EntreMundos: A Pedagogy of the Américas challenges the standard narratives of "achievement" to think about how Latinx students can experience an education that forges new possibilities of liberation and justice. Growing Latinx student populations have led to concerns about "assimilating" them into mainstream academic frameworks. This book offers an alternative, decolonizing approach that embraces complex Latinx identities and clears a path toward resisting systems of oppression. Educating Latinx students should involve more than just helping them achieve in school but rather having them recognize their agency to transform the larger structure of education to promote justice-oriented practices. The authors offer a framework for such transformation by honoring their theoretical lineages, proposing a set of guiding principles, and sharing stories about collective social action within and outside Latinx communities. PAR EntreMundos: A Pedagogy of the Américas is a practice of liberation and freedom.

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Chapter 3. The Social Justice Education Project in Tucson, Arizona (Julio Cammarota)



The Social Justice Education Project in Tucson, Arizona

Julio Cammarota

In the 2002/03 school year, the Social Justice Education Project (SJEP) started at Cerro High School in the Tucson Unified School District (TUSD) of Arizona. This specialized social science program has expanded (in only a few years) to three schools including Campo, Pima, and Mountain High Schools. There are a total of seven SJEP courses offered every year in TUSD. Students who tend to enroll in the SJEP are working-class Latinxs from the southwest area of Tucson. This high concentration of Latinx students results from the schools’ locations, primarily in Latinx neighborhoods. White, African-American and Native American students are also enrolled in the SJEP.

Most importantly, the social science program is aligned with state-mandated history and U.S. government standards and involves students in youth participatory action research (YPAR) projects. The SJEP is a year-long course in which students gain all their social science credits for graduation and learn graduate-level participatory action research techniques. YPAR, in short, requires students to conduct their own original qualitative research and participate in every step of the research process. Furthermore, based on their research findings, students propose actions to solve problems in their particular social and economic contexts.←55 | 56→

Their YPAR projects focus on critical analyses of social justice problems and include presentations to parents and members of their community to initiate change. Students learn qualitative research methods, most notably participant observation, for...

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