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Latina/o Students in Majority White Schools

Latina/o Students in Majority White Schools Latina/o high school students face many challenges in school, and much current research on ethnicity and education likewise focuses on the downsides of being an ethnic minority in the U.S. educational system. Social scientists attribute the educational gaps associated with ethnic minority status to factors such as fewer family resources, discrimination, teacher-student mismatch, English learner status, and social isolation at school. This article shifts attention to the ways in which ethnic minority status can bolster educational attainment and highlights the significance of co-ethnic physical spaces or “enclaves” in majority white high schools. Data include 11 interviews with teachers and administrators at a public high school in the Southeast, supplemented with 100 hours of classroom participant observation and over 100 narratives written by students. Student perceptions are tapped through analysis of an open-ended essay writing exercise on what it means to be a Latina/o in the United States, completed by the Latina/o students enrolled in four Spanish language–only courses during three terms in 2013–2014. The observation, interview, and essay-based data indicate that Latino/a high school students benefit from school ethnic enclaves where they are free to draw on the support of co-ethnic peers and culturally flexible teachers. These themes emerge in the interviews with teachers and are supported by student comments in a writing exercise. School ethnic enclaves provide both academic and social support, help foster a positive ethnic self-image, and ultimately link ethnic minority status and heritage to success despite the significant—and more often studied—educational challenges faced by Latina/o high school students. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Sociology of Race and Ethnicity SAGE

Latina/o Students in Majority White Schools

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Publisher
SAGE
Copyright
© American Sociological Association 2016
ISSN
2332-6492
eISSN
2332-6506
DOI
10.1177/2332649216663002
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Latina/o high school students face many challenges in school, and much current research on ethnicity and education likewise focuses on the downsides of being an ethnic minority in the U.S. educational system. Social scientists attribute the educational gaps associated with ethnic minority status to factors such as fewer family resources, discrimination, teacher-student mismatch, English learner status, and social isolation at school. This article shifts attention to the ways in which ethnic minority status can bolster educational attainment and highlights the significance of co-ethnic physical spaces or “enclaves” in majority white high schools. Data include 11 interviews with teachers and administrators at a public high school in the Southeast, supplemented with 100 hours of classroom participant observation and over 100 narratives written by students. Student perceptions are tapped through analysis of an open-ended essay writing exercise on what it means to be a Latina/o in the United States, completed by the Latina/o students enrolled in four Spanish language–only courses during three terms in 2013–2014. The observation, interview, and essay-based data indicate that Latino/a high school students benefit from school ethnic enclaves where they are free to draw on the support of co-ethnic peers and culturally flexible teachers. These themes emerge in the interviews with teachers and are supported by student comments in a writing exercise. School ethnic enclaves provide both academic and social support, help foster a positive ethnic self-image, and ultimately link ethnic minority status and heritage to success despite the significant—and more often studied—educational challenges faced by Latina/o high school students.

Journal

Sociology of Race and EthnicitySAGE

Published: Jan 1, 2017

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