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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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5. Garnering Resilience: Latina/o Education as a Family, School, and Community Affair

Data Collection and Analysis


5. Garnering Resilience: Latina/o Education as a Family, School, and Community Affair


How is the school working on—the district—working on these high school dropouts? They’re not really trying to find out why these kids are dropping out. Are they doing some kind of gathering of these kids and asking them why? Why are you dropping out? Where did we fail you? (Josué, January 10, 2010)

In the interview excerpt above, Josué points to the role and responsibility of the schools and district to actively inquire why over 50% of Latina/o youth leave school. Josué was born in the Bronx and is the son of a Chilean father and a Puerto Rican mother. He is married to Denise, who was born and raised in Puerto Rico. Together they have four children, and have lived in Rochester for over 10 years. Both Josué and Denise participated in one of the focus group interviews held with parents/guardians.

Josué argues for the need to gather information about “the dropout problem” by asking the youth themselves. On the one hand, he repeatedly refers to the Latina/o youth who have left school as “these” kids, rather than “our” kids. Perhaps this positioning differentiates his college-bound daughter from the youth who have dropped out—as if to say, that is not my kid. To this extent, Josué’s thinking reflects the development of “school kid” and “street kid” identities, as theorized by...

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