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Crawling through the educational pipeline: Latinas, poverty y educación


In the academic literature, the daily lives of Latinas are rarely told by Latinas themselves. Data on the lives of this population come out in social science forums in the form of statistical analyses often neatly organized in tables and colorful graphs. This dissertation goes against the grain of most quantitative analyses by positing that the "how" and "why" behind the statistics is where more nuanced understanding comes from. Through an auto-ethnographic testimonio, the story behind the statistics will unfold (Latina Feminist Group, 2001). Using critical race theory as an overarching framework, I offer the counter narrative as a critical framework to capture the complexities that are often overlooked when researchers use the "scientific method" (Delgado, 1995).

This project had four objectives: (a) to use critical race theory (CRT) as a tool to better understand the experiences of Latinas living in poverty and going through the educational pipeline, (b) to examine the educational and social challenges of Latinas living in poverty and making their way through the educational pipeline, (c) to reveal one of many "voices" of the poor, and (d) to make definitions of poverty more comprehensive by including the crucial element of experience.

This study focused on the educational experiences of Latinas as they progressed from elementary school through college, a trajectory commonly referred to as the educational pipeline. This study posited intersections of race, class, and gender as impactful factors in a student's movement through the educational pipeline.

The 11 auto-ethnographic testimonios in this dissertation provided a deep understanding of the long-term effects of poverty, offering a detailed description of the mechanisms the authors used to navigate the educational pipeline (Solórzano, 1995). In the forms of work they have chosen to do, the women have enacted productive responses to what I have dubbed a Pedagogy of Poverty, replenishing the store of Community Cultural Wealth (Yosso, 2002). Most notably, the dissertation indicated that these Latina women have the ability to change the structures of oppression by having the courage to reveal their own vulnerabilities and the fortitude to stand on the side of humanity.

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