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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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10. A Superintendent’s Response: The Latina/o Potential Yet to be Realized

Relationships: The Gateway to Protective Factors


10. A Superintendent’s Response: The Latina/o Potential Yet to be Realized


A review of any urban school district strategic plan over the past 20 years will show that in Rochester and cities across the nation there have been several efforts to improve the educational outcomes of minority students, particularly Latina/o and African American. Unfortunately, the result of these efforts has been poor. The reasons for the failure are multiple: poor policy and practice, lack of understanding of the problems, lack of resource capacity, and inability of the system to respond to the Latina/o students’ needs. Cuban and Usdan (2003) suggest that a weakness in prior attempts at school reform rests with a theory of action that assumes the schools can do it alone. Furthermore, in School Experiences of Latina/o Students: A Community-Based Study of Resources, Challenges, and Successes (Kiyama & Harris, 2010), a strong case is made that the issues are not just a school or family problem, and that “changes in the opportunity structure for Latino/a students will require a commitment from the entire community” (p. 40).

The current effort I am leading in Rochester has established a Theory of Action in which the school district has the ultimate responsibility for educating our children, but we cannot do it alone. As important as the reasons are for the opportunity gap, there is nothing more troubling to me as a superintendent of schools than the widening of this gap for...

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