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The Plight of Invisibility

A Community-Based Approach to Understanding the Educational Experiences of Urban Latina/os


Donna Marie Harris and Judy Marquez Kiyama

The Plight of Invisibility offers unique contributions that inform the use of a community-based research approach that examines educational issues identified by urban, Latina/o communities. It offers a new lens from which to understand the circumstances of Latina/o students in schools as they navigate in social systems that are in opposition to them, thus rendering Latina/o students and their families invisible. Despite these challenges, the book offers examples of community programs and resources that support and address the needs of Latina/o students as they build resiliency and determination to persist. Community organizations and advocates, educational researchers, practitioners, students, and policymakers will find The Plight of Invisibility useful to reframe deficit discourses about Latina/o students and their families. In addition, the book is appropriate for classes including methodology courses focused on community-based research, educational policy and/or college access courses, and Latina/o studies courses.
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This book would not have been possible without the efforts of Hilda Rosario Escher, the president and CEO of the Ibero-American Action League (Ibero), and the Ibero staff who are tireless advocates for Latina/o students and families. Since its inception, Ibero has fought to promote the visibility of Latina/o community needs in Rochester, New York. Their advocacy efforts were the catalyst for the research found in this book which documents both the challenges and resources Latina/o secondary school students and their families used to negotiate in the Rochester City School District (RCSD). We are grateful for the members of the Latina/o Education Task Force (Task Force) who were collaborators in this research project. The Task Force has had several chairpersons who provided leadership during the various phases of the group. Margaret Sanchez served as the initial Task Force chairperson, from 2008 through 2010, during the research design, data collection, analysis, and findings dissemination. In 2011, Julio Saenz and Yazmin Torres were co-chairpersons during the development of short- and long-term action plans based on report recommendations. And Anthony Ploncynzski has been the chairperson since 2012 and facilitates ongoing advocacy efforts. These activities have been further supported by school board members José Cruz and Melisza Campos and Superintendent Dr. Bolgen Vargas.

We thank the Latina/o students and families in the Rochester community who participated in our study and openly shared their experiences. Your stories demonstrate the unique challenges confronted by Latina/o students. At the same time, your experiences...

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