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Title:Border inspections in a dual-language, second-grade classroom in the U.S. Midwest
Author(s):Lang, Maria Guadalupe
Director of Research:Garcia, Georgia E.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Garcia, Georgia E.
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Harris, Violet J.; Inda, Jonathan X.; Lugo, Alejandro
Department / Program:Curriculum and Instruction
Discipline:Curriculum and Instruction
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Border Theory, border inspections, border crossings, Dual language schools, Mexican immigrant children, bilingual education
Abstract:This study employed Border Theory as a theoretical framework and Lugo’s conceptualization of border inspections as a tool for social analysis of the multiple borders faced by four second-grade children of Mexican immigrant families at a 50-50 Dual Language (DL) school in the U.S. Midwest. The image of the border was used as a metaphor to represent the barriers and oppressive acts faced by Mexican immigrant children and their families far removed from the actual México-U.S. geographical border. The study had two purposes: a) to identify the border inspections that children of Mexican immigrant families encountered in a second-grade DL classroom, and b) to describe the ways that the children’s families and classroom teacher helped/hindered their border crossings between home and school spaces. Three questions guided the inquiry: What were the multiple ways that four second-graders from Mexican immigrant families were inspected at school? How did the family histories, educational experiences and language ideologies of the Mexican immigrant families help or hinder their children’s home-school border crossings? How did the second-grade teacher facilitate or hinder the second-graders’ home-school border crossings? This was an ethnographic study that took place during 2017-2018. Focal participants included four second-grade children and their Mexican immigrant families and their second-grade teacher. Other participants were the school principal, key friends of the second-graders, and other school staff. Data sources included 80 classroom observations (documented through audio-recordings and fieldnotes), 15 home visits (documented through retrospective fieldnotes), 12 formal interviews (audio-recorded), numerous informal interviews (documented through retrospective fieldnotes), and the copying of student artifacts. All the audio-recordings were transcribed. Data analysis consisted of a series of guiding questions to identify key players, activities and power structures within each inspection station and open and focused coding. The findings showed two types of border inspections: structural/institutional and social. The structural/institutional inspections were tied to federal and state mandates for the school district, which the DL school had to follow. They inspected the focal students’ class, language and academic progress and achievement. Social border inspections derived from everyday social dynamics between the students, students and teacher and school district personnel and inspected language, class, religion and gender. The most important type of social border inspections revolved around language, including the monitoring of children’s adherence to the DL program’s 50-50 language allocation. All four children aspired to go to college and performed at or above grade level in Spanish; two were performing at or above grade level in English. One of them had difficulties with oral English. Family factors that facilitated the children’s home-school border crossings were their parents’ positive views about Spanish, high expectations for their children’s education, and the apparent match between the language ideologies of the parents and the DL school. Class background and documentedness were key factors that hindered some of the children’s border crossings. The second-grade teacher facilitated the second-graders’ border crossings related to categories of difference, which included language, class, religion and gender/sexuality, with language being the most important category. Key factors that related to how she helped the children to cross language and class borders included her own past discrimination as a second-language learner; her implementation of a bilingual perspective to teach and assess her students; her humanization of language learning by framing power dynamics between Spanish-speakers and English-speakers in the context of student friendships; and her use of personal connections to help the children’s parents find jobs or support their formal/informal economic efforts. The teacher reflected “cariño conscientizado” or critically conscious and authentic care. The dissertation concluded by emphasizing the role of Border Theory as a theoretical lens and as a social tool for analysis. Given the current socio-political context in the U.S., it was predicted that border inspections will continue to occur among intersecting categories of difference for children and adults from Mexican immigrant working-class backgrounds, regardless of geographical location. Educational and research implications related to the teaching and assessment of children from Mexican immigrant families were provided.
Issue Date:2019-08-06
Rights Information:Copyright 2019 Maria Lang
Date Available in IDEALS:2020-03-02
Date Deposited:2019-12

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