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Diverse by Design

Diverse by Design: Literacy Education in Multicultural Institutions

Copyright Date: 2011
Pages: 238
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  • Book Info
    Diverse by Design
    Book Description:

    Diversity, despite what we say, disturbs us. In the U.S., we debate linguistic rights, the need for an official language, and educational policies for language minority students. On the one hand, we believe in the rights of individuals, including (at least in the academy) the right to one's own language. On the other hand, we sponsor a single common language, monolingual and standard, for full participation and communication in both the academy and in U.S. society. In Diverse by Design, Christopher Schroeder reports on an institutional case study conducted at an officially designated Hispanic-Serving Institution. He gives particular attention to a cohort of Latino students in a special admissions program, to document their experience of a program designed to help students surmount the "obstacle" that ethnolinguistic diversity is perceived to be. Ultimately, Schroeder argues for reframing multilingualism and multiculturalism, not as obstacles, but as intellectual resources to exploit. While diversity might disturb us, we can overcome its challenges by a more expansive sense of social identity. In an increasingly globalized society, literacy ideologies are ever more critical to educational equity, and to human lives.

    eISBN: 978-0-87421-807-7
    Subjects: Language & Literature, Education

Table of Contents

    (pp. xxv-xxvi)

    No one thinks they need Tagalog, so if they are going to learn it, I must teach them, which means that I must learn it first.

    They hear Tagalog at their tita’s house where their lolo and lola also live, but we are much more comfortable in English. Sometimes, their tita asks if I’ll offer ESL classes at her clinic for her staff—Filipino, Mexican, Puerto Rican, Jamaican, and, she always adds, Bulgarian, Albanian, Italian, African American, and Jewish. I could be her token white employee, she says. My Spanish, says one of her Spanish-speaking employees, is cute, which, I...


      (pp. 1-28)

      I admit I was surprised.

      At the time, I acknowledged, if not agreed with, the complaints of colleagues who, when they looked from behind podiums, perceived problems. More than eight in ten of us, according to a survey in the Chronicle of Higher Education, believe that high-school graduates are unprepared or only somewhat prepared for college, and four in ten of us believe our first-year students are not well prepared for college writing (Sanoff 2006).

      Although this perception is shared by only one in ten of our public high-school counterparts, these concerns seem more than merely professorial perceptions, as recent...

    • Different Standards: PART I
      (pp. 29-32)

      I unlocked my office to find a copy of the campus newspaper that someone had slid beneath the door. I stepped over it and around it as I unpacked my bag and gathered folders for class. With a few minutes before I had to leave, I picked up the newspaper and dropped into a chair. I soon guessed why it was there.

      The headline—“Blowing the Whistle on the English Department”—promised a scandal. “A significant number of influential tenure track faculty in the English Department,” announced our colleague in the opening sentence, “are defrauding students of the appropriate education...

      (pp. 33-66)

      Although NEIU, according to the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education, is considered a public four-year institution, no one—neither students nor faculty—can come to this institution without learning, often before arriving, that it is a diverse institution:

      Founded in 1867, Northeastern Illinois University continues to meet the demand for quality, affordable education, serving 12,000 students at the 67-acre main campus on Chicago’s north side and three additional campuses in the metropolitan area. NEIU is the most diverse university in the Midwest (according to U.S. News and World Report) and a federally-designated Hispanic Serving Institution. (NEIU Homepage)


    • Different Standards: PART II
      (pp. 67-70)

      When the first plane struck, I had just arrived in my office and begun streaming the radio.

      I called home several times before our campus was closed, and my commute, typically twenty minutes by bus, took more than an hour. Inbound lanes toward Manhattan, and the rest of the country, were empty except for an occasional fire truck or ambulance, while the outbound ones to Long Island were endless trains of vehicles interrupted only by traffic lights. Huddled around the television, we watched the sickening events occurring just miles away, and from our backyard, we could smell acrid smoke in...


      (pp. 73-110)

      When we started at NEIU, the Proyecto Pa’Lante (PP) students and I had no way of knowing that the university would soon be recognized as the most outstanding member institution within the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU), an association of more than 450 institutions in the United States, Puerto Rico, Latin America, Spain, and Portugal that, as described by HACU, are champions of Hispanic success in higher education. Nonetheless, they and I likely would have been encouraged to know that with this award, the university we had selected would be identified, in 2007, as the one that best...

    • Different Standards: PART III
      (pp. 111-114)

      Throughout the fall, the Language Skills Assessment Task Force completed its review of literacy instruction on campus, and I started my survey of the Proyecto Pa’Lante students. Meanwhile, the union was negotiating a new contract, which had been extended, month by month since the summer, and when negotiations slowed, a strike was authorized and then called.

      For almost three weeks, the university more or less stopped, after which the semester was extended, and the break was shortened. We returned in the spring to a tense campus and an unexpected hire—someone with an educational psychology PhD and a dissertation in...

      (pp. 115-141)
      Neida Hernandez-Santamaria

      When Neida told me she wanted to be a lawyer but her LSAT scores weren’t good enough, we were sitting around a table near the coffee stand in the noisy student union, discussing the session of her PP seminar class I had just observed.

      I had realized, soon after starting these observations, that she was part of a larger story about education and literacy, so I had asked if she wanted to collaborate on this chapter with me. “You’ll have to show me the ropes,” she said. I mentioned Richard Rodriguez’s Hunger of Memory (1983), which was in the campus...

      (pp. 142-162)
      Sophia López

      Time has not lessened the pain of my mother’s humiliations. She came to this country as a teenager, not knowing the language. She’d been a straight A student in Mexico but found herself working a factory job in Chicago. She escaped a life of blistered hands on the assembly line by studying to become a secretary. She could almost pass for white—until her accent betrayed her. I couldn’t hear it as a child and didn’t know what having one meant to her.

      At her first office job, a coworker, this white woman, asked her why she didn’t go back...

      (pp. 163-174)
      Angela Vidal-Rodriguez

      One of my main reasons to come to the United States was “to dominate the English.” For me to dominate the language meant to lose the accent, speak quickly, understand all English speakers, learn all the idioms, read books in English, sing in English, and dream in English. Oddly enough, writing was not on the spectrum at all. The goal was to learn the culture to perfection and be able to replicate it perfectly too. My idea was to be an American when I was in the United States and be a Mexican when I went back to Mexico. In...

    • Different Standards: PART IV
      (pp. 175-178)

      I later learned that after the Language Skills Assessment Task Force submitted its final report, the Faculty Council on Academic Affairs established another committee—the Writing Implementation Task Force—that reached similar conclusions: a need for better coordination among the Reading Program, the English Language Program, and the English Department and a goal of writing-intensive courses as major requirements, as well as the importance of adequate funding.

      Aside from two members on this new task force, few in the English Department knew the details of these deliberations. Nonetheless, those of us who had been involved with previous writing initiatives on...


      (pp. 181-212)

      Despite our difficulties with diversity, our belief in education endures, especially among ethnolinguistic minorities. For example, a recent editorial entitled “Educación para Toda la Familia” (Hoy 2008) in a local newspaper suggests that educational opportunities are available to everyone, including recent arrivals:

      Quienes dicen que para un inmigrante latino con pocos recursos no es posible obtener una educación y una buena profesión, están equivocados. Aunque miles llegan a Estados Unidos sin dinero, con poca educación académica, y sin profesión, todos pueden mejorar sus vidas y las de sus familias si están dispuestos a pagar el precio.¹

      At the same time,...

    • Different Standards: CONCLUSIONS
      (pp. 213-219)

      As a result of the HSI funds for the campuswide writing program, new full-time instructors were hired, and the first-year composition curriculum was revised. Although my uncertainties had seeped beyond my administrative aptitudes, I nonetheless hoped to acknowledge these uncertainties as I participated as much as I could in this initiative.

      When we were invited to help with the hiring of new instructors, I volunteered to review the files, and I intended to participate, or, as one colleague suggested, at least observe, the curriculum-revision workshops. To do so, I had arranged my sabbatical obligations around the workshop schedule, and when,...

      (pp. 220-223)
      Victor Villanueva

      Let me begin with a confession. Everything that follows draws on an essay I cowrote with C. Jan Swearingen and Susan McDowall. And, really, Susan McDowall gets the real credit for what’s here. The original essay appears in Research on Composition: Multiple Perspectives on Two Decades of Change, edited by Peter Smagorinsky.

      What I want to do is just to remind readers about contrastive rhetoric, a branch of applied linguistics, the pedagogical branch of linguisticswrit-large. I bring it up for two reasons. First, I’m nervous about the gaze of Chris Schroeder’s critical eye. He’s sharp at pointing to the contradictions...