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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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6. The Role of School- and Community-Based Programs in Aiding Latina/o High School Persistence



6. The Role of School- and Community-Based Programs in Aiding Latina/o High School Persistence1


As public schools serve increasing numbers of Latina/o students, especially in urban settings (Fry & Gonzáles, 2008; Garofano & Sable, 2008), it is necessary to understand the conditions that promote their success, as well as the factors that inhibit school progress, so as to adopt effective policies and interventions. Several scholars, including Calabrese and Poe (1990), Rumberger (2006), and Woolley (2009), suggest that students do not leave school suddenly; the school-leaving process accumulates over time, and is often the result of student disengagement and alienation. A number of student- and school-level factors are considered as contributors to the school leaving process (see Bryk &Thum, 1989; Rumberger, 1987, 2006; Rumberger & Thomas, 2000). Student and family attributes, including poverty and parental support, are often cited as explanatory variables for Latina/o educational outcomes (Wiggan, 2007), and are also major contributors to students leaving school before completion (Rumberger, 2006). For instance, research indicates that student characteristics such as coming from a low-income family or a non– English-speaking home, or being Latina/o or African American, increases the likelihood of dropping out (Rumberger, 1995, 2006).

School-level factors including the hyper-segregation of Latina/o students in public schools place them in racially isolated school contexts that tend to be urban and underfunded, and often populated with students who live below the poverty line (Cammarota, 2006; G...

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