, Volume 12, Issue 4, pp 333-354
Date: 13 Feb 2013

Citizenship status and language education policy in an emerging Latino community in the United States

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Abstract

This article draws on a 23 month ethnographic study of an emerging—newly established and rapidly growing—Latino community in the New Latino Diaspora of the U.S. in order to examine how educators and parents interpret language education policy (LEP). It analyzes how an English as a Second Language director and one undocumented Mexican mother respond to the federal education legislation of 2002, known as the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act, which seeks to improve educational achievement by assessing student progress through standardized testing, mandating curricular reforms, and improving teacher quality. The analysis focuses on the portion of NCLB known as Title III, which is the section of the legislation that attempts to enlist parental participation in public schooling by mandating that schools communicate with parents in a language that they can understand. Drawing on participant observations, interviews, and informal conversations, this research demonstrates the ways that participants’ understandings of citizenship influence their interpretation of language education policy reforms resulting from Title III of NCLB. The findings indicate that various conceptualizations of citizenship circulate between home and school settings, and that those conceptualizations shape approaches to enlisting and offering parental participation. The article contributes to our understanding of three aspects of LEP: the way that LEP is interpreted in formal and informal educational settings, the role of parents and educators in shaping policy implementation locally, and the way individual understandings of LEP are linked to beliefs about citizenship and immigration.

An erratum to this article can be found at http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10993-014-9321-3.