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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 5. The New Jersey Urban Youth Research Initiative (Jennifer Ayala / Mayida Zaal / Francisco De Jesus / Stan Karp)



The New Jersey Urban Youth Research Initiative

Jennifer Ayala, Mayida Zaal, Francisco De Jesus, and Stan Karp

In 2008, a New Jersey coalition of education activists, community-based organizations, and university researchers met to design a participatory project that would engage adults and youth across three large cities in New Jersey—Jersey City, Newark, and Paterson—in the debate on secondary education reform and high school graduation requirements. From this advisory meeting, the New Jersey Urban Youth Research Initiative (NJUYRI) was launched. It was a collaborative effort between a civil rights organization (Education Law Center), two universities (Saint Peter’s University and the Graduate Center City University of New York), one high school (Henry Snyder), and four youth-serving community based organizations (Abbott Leadership Institute, ASPIRA, New Jersey Community Development Corporation, and Project GRAD—Graduation Really Achieves Dreams). The overarching goal of this project was to establish an intergenerational collective of educators, community organizers, high school students, and university faculty that would research the potential impact of the changing graduation requirements and develop a plan of action that would stem from the findings. As a corollary to this larger goal, the youth involved would also gain research skills through the camps offered and the data collected, exercise critical thinking when they←89 | 90→ would analyze data, apply concepts toward the creation of artistic products, and practice public speaking across audiences (Zaal & Ayala, 2013).

The following narrative describes the development of our collaborative, the...

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