Critical Ethnic Studies in High School Classrooms: Academic Achievement via Social Action

  • Cati V. de los RíosEmail author
  • Jorge López
  • Ernest Morrell


This chapter explores three case studies of a critical pedagogy of Ethnic Studies with high-school students. The first of these cases explores students’ critical readings of federal legislation affecting their lives and futures and their organizing of social justice community posadas to raise awareness and create local solutions. The second case examines how a school utilized community resources to design a Community Cultural Treasures Project, a collaboration among educators, nonprofit arts organizations, and literacy directors that addressed local history and culture while honoring the voice of students. The final case study describes a 12-year project where high-school students used youth participatory action research (YPAR) to unpack issues of social and racial injustice in their neighborhoods, schools, and communities. Across each of these cases, we explore the connections between the teaching of Ethnic Studies and the development of literacies of power, social awareness, civic engagement, and academic achievement. We conclude the chapter with implications for pedagogy, policy, and praxis in city schools.


Critical pedagogy Ethnic studies Critical literacy Youth participatory action research Student voice Social justice Academic achievement Race and education Urban education 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Cati V. de los Ríos
    • 1
    Email author
  • Jorge López
    • 2
  • Ernest Morrell
    • 3
  1. 1.Teachers CollegeNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.Claremont Graduate UniversityClaremontUSA
  3. 3.Teachers CollegeColumbia UniversityNew YorkUSA

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