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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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A recent report indicates that while 80% of high schoolers earn a diploma in the United States, African American and Latina/o learners still account for more than half of high school pushouts in the United States. Thus, although African American and Latina/o students make up only 38% of all high school students in the United States, 54% of these same students never complete high school (Swanson, 2014). I intentionally use the term pushout rather than the more common dropout to describe the school noncompletion process among youth of color. Referring to a youth as a high school dropout implies that this young person has decided on her own accord to leave school. Hence, suggesting that such a student has voluntarily chosen to cease her studies makes it easy to place the blame for this student’s greatly reduced life chances squarely on her own shoulders. In this foreword, I draw from my own work and research with Latina/o community-based organizations and the important roles they can play in the education of youth from this ethnic group (Antrop-González, 2011) in an effort to contextualize the content found within The Plight of Invisibility: A Community-Based Approach to Understanding the Educational Experiences of Urban Latina/os.

Much educational research describes the large extent to which the school-leaving process is much more complex in that most schools serve the primary function of reproducing social class and institutional racism. Thus, schools are actually systemically structured to fail...

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