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Para Que Sepan Que Sabemos: Latin@ Parents Projecting Concientización Through the Activation and Negotiation of their Mediational Tools.



Para Que Sepan Que Sabemos: Latin@ Parents Projecting Concientización Through the Activation and Negotiation of their Mediational Tools.


Zuleyma Nayeli Carruba-Rogel

Employing an ethnographic participant-observer approach, this study examines how 21 Latin@ immigrant parents in the Padres Líderes IV (Parent Leaders) program drew from individual and collective funds of knowledge and forms of capital to negotiate, develop, and present letters to their local school board regarding a funding priority in response to California school districts’ new Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP). To comprehensively appreciate the parents’ act of mediation, I adopted an embedded analysis approach by contextualizing their collaborative endeavors within the historical development of the program and the overarching political ecologies that led to this observed point in time. The Padres Líderes IV parents formed four groups, each addressing one of their LCAP budgetary priorities. These included: tutoring services, English Language Learner (ELL) reclassification, summer academic programs, and school safety. At the parent project level, I focus my analysis on one of the four groups (summer academic programs), due to its popularity with the parents and because it was facilitated by both an educator and parent-coordinator. Data collection included: ethnographic observations, fieldnotes, classroom reflections, gathered classroom artifacts, and collected video and audio recordings of the weekly coordinating meetings, program sessions, and post-session debriefs. Data collection extended for a period of four months.

Five activities constitute the dynamic and interactive work in which parents engaged to construct letters representative of their group’s concerns (e.g., identifying the problem, need, target audience and significance and drafts of their letter). I identify key themes, which were included in this group’s final letter, and follow these themes throughout the length of the 12-week program to gauge if and how the program sessions influenced the parents’ collaborative endeavors. In turn, I hone in on dynamic group interactions to identify the tools parents utilized and the skills they employed to collectively negotiate the thematic progression of their LCAP proposal. Three key themes emerged in the parents’ letter to the school board: parents’ multifaceted concientización, a sense of feeling heard, and joint-partnership. The data collected informs that parents drew from their funds of knowledge and forms of capital to negotiate these themes into the body of their letter.

First, in unprecedented ways, this ethnography illustrates how parents activate and enhance their vast mediational tools to collectively engage their local political ecologies. Second, this study highlights parents’ critical and intellectual capital in-the-making. Third, it reveals that parents’ concientización (or critical capital) is more than a critical state of awareness, but a formable and evolving type of capital that can be leveraged, personified, and utilized as a mediational tool. Fourth, I propose modifications to Barton et al.’s (2004) Ecologies of Parent Engagement (EPE) framework, as these alterations are intended to more comprehensively understand the work that families in parent engagement programs employ to mediate their political ecologies. Finally, this study uniquely elucidates the role of affect in parent empowerment and parents’ possession of communicative capital. Overall, this ethnographic study demonstrates how, through collaborative efforts and participation in a school-community partnership program, otherwise marginalized parents assert themselves as agents of change by engaging their local political ecologies to address their schooling needs.

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