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Quality Education for Latinos and Latinas

Rita Portales
Marco Portales
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  • Book Info
    Quality Education for Latinos and Latinas
    Book Description:

    As educators and legislators across the country debate how to improve public schools, the most vital factor often disappears from the equation-the relationship between the teacher and the student. According to veteran educators Rita and Marco Portales, this relationship is the central issue in the education of students, especially Latino/a students who often face serious barriers to school success because of the legacy of racism, insufficient English-language skills, and cultural differences with the educational establishment.

    To break down these barriers and help Latino/a students acquire a quality education, the Portaleses focus attention on the teacher-student relationship and offer a proven method that teachers can use to strengthen the print and oral skills of their students. They begin by analyzing the reasons why schools too often fail to educate Latino/a students, using eloquent comments from young Latinos/as and their parents to confirm how important the teacher-student relationship is to the student's success. Then they show how all educational stakeholders-teachers, administrators, state education agencies, legislators, and parents-can work together to facilitate the teacher-student relationship and improve student education. By demonstrating how teachers can improve students' reading, critical thinking, writing, and oral communication skills across the curriculum, they argue that learning can be made more relevant for students, keeping their interest levels high while preparing them for academically competitive colleges.

    eISBN: 978-0-292-79709-3
    Subjects: Sociology, Education

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-6)

    Educational foundations like the Carlos H. Cantu Hispanic Education and Opportunity Endowment increasingly recognize both the seriousness and the depth of the problems that Latina and Latino students face. The Cantu endowment is a million-dollar gift to Texas A&M University’s College Station campus donated in the fall of 1999 for the purpose of addressing the shockingly high dropout rates among U.S. Latino students. When he dedicated this sum to the university to reduce that unconscionable human loss, Mr. Carlos Cantu, an Aggie Former Student, Class of 1955, observed that more than “half a million Hispanic children drop out of school...

  6. PART I. Education and Latino amd Latina Students Today

    • Chapter 1 Thinking about our spanish-speaking students in the schools
      (pp. 9-18)

      Why do Latino and Latina youngsters tend to lag behind their peers in the same schools? Gaining proficiency in English, to be sure, is a major barrier for students who speak only Spanish, but even the great majority of Hispanic students who communicate mainly in English usually receive lower grades and less competitive college entrance test scores. No doubt many people in the schools continue to try different approaches as we write, but why are the more competitive universities still finding it so difficult to admit and enroll promising Latino and Latina applicants? Millions of Americans know that educators throughout...

    • Chapter 2 Latino and latina students and the schools we could create
      (pp. 19-39)

      College entrance examination scores and other college admissions criteria regularly document the fact that most minority students do not receive a K–12 education that allows them to compete evenly with non-Hispanic white college applicants. Every year we learn through the media, surveys, and research studies that minorities are academically less prepared than their white counterparts, often while attending the same schools. Why these differences in academic achievement continue is a question that baffles many observers.

      Minority students are not any less intelligent than whites, and their genes are not inferior, as some researchers have posited.¹ Our contention is that...

    • Chapter 3 But our education systems are distended
      (pp. 40-51)

      The purpose of education is not to weed some students out, not to select only the best students, as some people appear to believe, but to discover the strengths of all students and to educate them using their talents and resources. We make a point of this objective because schools cannot “weed out” or separate out their young people without lowering the future possibilities of all society. Students and schools are the responsibility of all members of society, and accepting the challenge of educating the young means that a civilized society has to provide for all of our students, including...

    • Chapter 4 Why students drop out
      (pp. 52-69)

      Often students stop attending classes regularly and s top completing their schoolwork a good while before they finally drop out. These early warning signals should immediately alert educators to the students’ loss of interest in school. If such signs are left unaddressed, students are likely to drop out eventually, telling us that the students themselves are quite aware that they have been miseducated, that they are unwilling to continue the charade of pointlessly going to school any longer.

      I was asked to teach in the same area as mine as a substitute for a teacher who suddenly had been taken...

    • Chapter 5 A mexican american mother who will not visit school
      (pp. 70-75)

      A colleague who teaches in a Texas school invited a Mexican American mother to visit her class to see how the mother’s youngest son was doing. The totally unexpected, matter-of-fact response from the mother in Spanish was

      No, yo ya no voy a la escuela. No he ido hace casi veinte años, aunque cada rato mandan invitaciones. No voy porque la última vez que fui me dió mucha lástima. Allí tienen nuestros niños como regados; ni les prestan atención. No más los tienen allí todo el día, haciendo nada.

      That is:

      No, I don’t visit the school any more. I...

    • Chapter 6 The tribal mentality and favoritism
      (pp. 76-88)

      Pretending that racism has not existed has allowed m any Native, African, Asian, and Mexican Americans like Mrs. G. to downplay discrimination. Racism has traditionally kept many ethnic minority Americans, particularly those who cannot visibly pass for mainstream white Americans, from enjoying better lives. For that reason, living as if American life is driven mainly by the ideal standards of the U.S. Constitution is a point of view that some ethnic people can embrace, while others simply cannot. It is not that the latter choose not to, but rather that daily life tells them otherwise, as many incidents presented in...

    • Chapter 7 Crime and properly funded schools
      (pp. 89-100)

      Despite the millions of dollars appropriated for education by the federal and state governments, almost everywhere we look today education falls short of meeting the academic and social needs of students. Education should both equip students to be academically competitive and teach them how to be great U.S. citizens who respect the laws and who know how to behave maturely. Although there are a good number of success stories that could be featured and which school districts often use to promote their programs and activities, there are still too many instances, periodically reported in the media, that show that education...

  7. PART II. How to Repair an Education System

    • Chapter 8 Teachers, administrators, board members, state education agencies, legislators, and taxpayers: WHICH IS THE MOST IMPORTANT GROUP?
      (pp. 103-111)

      Identifying the influence of the many groups of professionals and individuals in an education system that shape the curricula that teachers deliver to students is no easy feat. Effectively coordinating the contributions and the suggestions of people connected to education is difficult, yet that is exactly the nature of the challenge today. If we are to provide a quality education to every student, we need to recognize that how people feel about the schools largely depends on the nature of the interactions that they have had with members of a school system. Indeed, whether recognized or not, most us see...

    • Chapter 9 The k – 12 school district team
      (pp. 112-115)

      If quality education is the goal of a school district, then the teacher-student classroom relationship necessarily must be at the center of all educational activity in the schools. We assert this main anchoring education principle not to take the “side” of teachers, as some top administrators may incorrectly interpret our effort, but to begin to show how the carefully orchestrated efforts of a unified school team can be made to work to benefit students, considerably improving the standing of both teachers and administrators in communities across the United States. Again, teachers need to be seen and treated as the most...

    • Chapter 10 Teachers and students in the classroom
      (pp. 116-127)

      What is the nature of the recommended relationship between teachers and students? InEmile(1762), Jean-Jacques Rousseau expressed the belief that a carefully selected mentor should ideally instruct only one pupil at a time, but public and private school budgets today require teachers simultaneously to teach as many students as legislators and supervisors deem reasonable. Budgets, to be sure, often establish most of the parameters for education, but our view is that the education of the young deserves the highest priority in any enlightened society. Why? Because the social and economic future welfare of a society largely depends on how...

    • Chapter 11 Understanding and educating all students
      (pp. 128-135)

      A few summers ago considerable construction went on at the local high school. What adults thought and talked about were the higher taxes brought on by the new construction. Almost every adult we spoke to hoped that the school would be safer and better and that the extra taxes would translate into improved educational opportunities for the students. Although some citizens had been reluctant to vote for the school bond to support the new building, later most people were pleased that neighborhood property values rose, that our tax dollars were visibly being used to provide for the young, since most...

    • Chapter 12 The four k – 16 cultures
      (pp. 136-142)

      In the United States, students have to learn how to negotiate at least four separate school cultures as they make their way from kindergarten to graduation and on to college. We say four, although the community college level may arguably constitute a fifth culture. Then, of course, there are other variations, depending on whether we are thinking about a public or private school education. Nevertheless, assuming that students study from kindergarten through the grades that lead to college graduation, it is sensible to know about the four school cultures for youngsters. At the elementary level, children are socialized and primed...

  8. PART III. A Print and Oral Approach

    • Chapter 13 Emphasizing all print and oral skills
      (pp. 145-161)

      Children and young adults learn in a great variety of ways, not all of which are addressed pedagogically in the schools. Some ways of learning actually distract, interfere and even counter other more organized ways of learning that teachers invent and design. That is why educators need to identify both the areas of learning in which students need to succeed and the best methods to deliver knowledge and information. For if children are not progressively taught how to learn, how to use and how to access knowledge by every teacher assigned to them from kindergarten through college, none of the...

    • Chapter 14 Blueprint for reinstating social values and civic virtues
      (pp. 162-165)

      Teachers who employ a print and oral pedagogy in their classrooms are in a great position to emphasize the essential social values and civic virtues that undergird American society, helping to promote academic excellence with this strong supporting structure, too. Excellent print and oral skills foster an academic integrity that creates responsible citizens who possess the kind of good public-serving qualities that healthy societies require, regardless of political persuasion. For that reason, students progressively taught, from the first grade to the senior year in college, to pursue excellent print and oral skills come to endorse and recognize the importance of...

    • Chapter 15 A print and oral approach that champions the importance of clauses
      (pp. 166-176)

      A print and oral pedagogy considerably enhances a student’s writing, and one way to demonstrate this, as an example, is by championing the lowly, unappreciated clause. Effective essays and well-constructed, informative oral presentations are basically built around clusters of words that most writers think with before turning these words into clauses and phrases that capture thoughts and ideas, lest they disappear, lost forever. Motivated by the necessary desire to select well-chosen words to describe concepts and ideas, budding writers can be taught how to write carefully, how to begin with a few empowering words and how to move on to...

    • Chapter 16 A third dimension to words: CHOREOGRAPHING WRITING
      (pp. 177-184)

      A good way to further emphasize how clauses and words can be used at every grade level to discuss appropriate ideas is to create exercises designed to teach students how to look at class materials in different, more imaginative ways. At the elementary level, for example, teachers can emphasize not only reading out loud, which is an unacknowledged art, but activities that provide children with opportunities to talk about and interpret what they read. Take a story like Leo Leoni’sSwimmy(1963) or another text in a school district’s curriculum that challenges and develops children’s thinking and communication skills. Before...


    • Chapter 17 Quality education and the teachers in the classroom
      (pp. 187-190)

      We have championed a quality education for Latinos and Latinas, one that can be pursued and dispensed to all students because, we contend, too many Spanish-speaking Americans, in particular, drop out of school in numbers that have hobbled too many generations. Stating how many actually leave their schooling is difficult because most school districts count dropout students differently, and such statistics understandably are not what schools like to inquire into, much less announce to the public. During the past decade, a number of “alternative school programs” have been created by school officials, backed by state and federal government legislative financing...

  10. Notes
    (pp. 191-210)
  11. Bibliography
    (pp. 211-216)
  12. Index
    (pp. 217-226)