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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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4. School Policies as Barriers for Latina/o Student Persistence

Student Voices as a Means to Examine Policy


4. School Policies as Barriers for Latina/o Student Persistence1


The implementation of educational policy has many purposes, including providing regulations and incentives that promote change in order to improve student development and outcomes (McDonnell & Elmore, 1987). While considerable research has focused attention on the impact of federal and state policy efforts on improving student outcomes (Grissmer, Ober, & Beckman, 2014; Helig, 2011; Roderick, Jacob, & Bryk, 2002; Winters & Cowen, 2012), this chapter focuses on how local school policy and practices in the Rochester City School District, such as bilingual resources, in-school suspension, and transportation, impact Latina/o student persistence in secondary school. Despite the intentions of educational policies and practices as a means of addressing school-level issues, we must consider the ways in which they present obstacles and have a negative impact on the persistence of racialized students (Dei, 2003; Dei, Mazzuca, McIsaac, & Zine, 1997; Fine, 1991). Rummens and Dei (2010) argue that schools often exclude students who possess identities that reflect different social experiences based on background characteristics such as race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status, language status, and gender. For Latina/o students in the U.S. who have complex cultural, linguistic, and geographical identities, the essence of who they are may be contested in schools. When any aspect of student identities is contested as a result of school policies and practices, then school disengagement can occur as a result of marginalization, “a process of social de-valuation that...

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