Date of Award:

5-2013

Document Type:

Dissertation

Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department:

School of Teacher Education and Leadership

Department name when degree awarded

Education and Human Services

Advisor/Chair:

Sherry Marx

Abstract

Latinos are now the largest public school minority population in the U.S. Because of a shift in the states, cities, and counties where Latinos are choosing to live, many schools that did not previously serve substantial numbers of Latinos are doing so now. Additionally, many of the Latinos in these new settlement areas are recent immigrants who speak little or no English. This qualitative study examined how immigrant Latino parents who speak little or no English supported their children in the English-speaking school system of the U.S. It specifically examined how 12 Spanish-speaking parents negotiated language and culture with their children's school in a new settlement area in the state of Utah. From the interviews I conducted with the Latino parents and school staff members, along with school observations and the collection of other data such as forms and notices, I examined how the parents negotiated language and culture with the school. I then analyzed the themes that emerged from this collection of data using a theoretical framework consisting of postcolonial theory, social and cultural capital, and the concept of social discourses. Major themes that emerged included the concern the parents had for their children's education, the parents' limited participation in the school discourse, children serving as language brokers, the maintenance and growth of their children's heritage language, the hegemony of the English language, and issues involving social and cultural capital, linking capital, and racism. Recommendations include assuring availability of interpreters, increasing bridging and linking capital, supporting children's heritage language, and being culturally sensitive and proactive to reduce racism. Hopefully, this research will add to the literature that will help educators better serve the growing Latino school population.

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