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Sin Sacrificio No Hay Recompensa: Apoyo as (Im)migrant Parental Engagement in Farmworking Families of the California Central Valley


This dissertation seeks to document how the life histories of Mexican origin (im)migrant farmworking families in a small rural California community shape their educational engagement experiences. Farmworkers living in communities like Trabajo are responsible for most of the agricultural production in California, yet their children attend under resourced schools that provide limited opportunities for academic success. This investigation examines how the intersection of their immigration status, racial and social class background, shapes how and why migrant farmworkers choose to engage in particular was in the schooling of their children. In this study I addressed the following question: 1) How are the educational engagement conceptions and practices of Mexican immigrant farmworkers shaped by their life histories? This study is unique as it locates schooling within the larger political economy of migrant farm labor and combined with a Freirean approach to Latino Critical Theory (LatCrit) it deconstructs and analyzes the complex social, political, and economic processes that migrant farmworking families are forced to navigate to support their children's education. Data from this study was collected through community archival research, oral history and in depth semi-structured interviews and participant observations with 16 parents from 8 families.

Findings from this study revealed parents conceive of educational engagement in more nuanced ways than traditional notions of parent involvement. For example, migrant farmworking families' conception and practices of educational engagement are much broader than normative school centric understandings and are best captured by the concept of apoyo. Specific practices of apoyo went beyond the school and consisted of 1) providing economic support 2) cultivating agency in their children 3) making meaningful sacrifices, 4) and modeling academic excellence. In this respect, it can be argued that parents' specific forms of educational engagement are a direct response to the material conditions and the racism they experienced as marginalized farmworkers. This study also contributes to a subset of qualitative studies that offer a direct challenge to the myth that Mexican families do not care about or participate sufficiently in the education of their children (Delgado-Gaitan, 1992; Lopez, 2001; Perez-Carreon et. al., 2005; Sol�rzano, 1992; Valdes, 1996; Valencia & Black, 2002). Findings from this research can be useful for practitioners and policy makers interested in understanding how to build upon the ways that (im)migrant farmworker families are already engaging in the education of their children.

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