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Civic Engagement in Diverse Latinx Communities

Learning From Social Justice Partnerships in Action


Mari Castañeda and Joseph Krupczynski

Students, faculty, and community partners alike will find Civic Engagement in Diverse Latinx Communities: Learning From Social Justice Partnerships in Action accessible not only because it includes an array of examples regarding Latinx civic engagement, but it also demonstrates that personal experiences are powerful tools for the production of new knowledge. This book reveals an epistemology of social justice that aims to investigate and develop a new Latinx community-university praxis for how to engage with diverse communities in the twenty-first century.


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Section II: Community Voices and the Politics of Place


Section II Community Voices and the Politics of Place 6. Community as a Campus: From “Problems” to Possibilities in Latinx Communities Jonathan rosa The language practices of U.S. Latinxs1 are frequently viewed as educational impediments, particularly in light of this population’s rapid demographic rise in recent decades.2 In Milltown,3 a small, urban New England city in which Latinxs constitute nearly 80% of K-12 students, popular discourses often link educational underachievement to cultural and linguistic diversity. For exam- ple, a recent local news story touting improving graduation rates throughout the region includes the following discussion of ongoing educational difficul- ties in Milltown: Milltown again was among the lowest in the state despite a high school gradua- tion rate that improved slightly, to 53.8 % from the previous year’s 52.8%. The city of 40,000 is roughly half Hispanic. Among challenges, officials have said, is that English is not the first language for more than 70% of public school students. Perspectives such the one voiced in this media portrayal present language differences, specifically those associated with “Hispanic” students for whom English is not their “first language,”4 as problems to be overcome rather than legitimate forms of communication. This vantage point involves lan- guage ideologies that presume upon English language “proficiency”5 as a readymade pathway toward educational success. Yet this is not the case for millions of U.S. Latinxs, as well members of other minoritized6 populations, who identify as native English speakers and still face profound experiences of educational inequity....

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