Date of Award

Fall 12-21-2018

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Educational Policy Studies

First Advisor

Kristen Buras

Second Advisor

Deron Boyles

Third Advisor

Jennifer Esposito

Fourth Advisor

Chara Bohan

Abstract

Schools in the Atlanta area are experiencing a significant influx of Latinx populations (Odem & Browne, 2011). Even though educators and school systems are aware of this movement and provide services in an attempt to increase Latinx parental involvement in their schools, few studies have been conducted that explore the perspectives of Latinx parents on metro Atlanta schools and little effort has been put into understanding the nuances of the Latinx parents’ culture (Georgia Department of Education, 2010). The lack of Latinx parents’ participation in school programs has led to a common misconception that Latinx families do not place a high value on education and therefore do not want to get involved in their children’s academic experience (Delgado-Gaitán, 2004). As communities of Latinx families - a group constantly misunderstood by school officials - grow and develop in the metro Atlanta area, in this study I explore the value Latinx place on education. More specifically, I presented in-depth interviews with Latinx immigrant parents of metro Atlanta public school students. Special attention was paid to their navigation of the educational system and the negotiation of their culture in the process, including the challenges rooted in language barriers, cultural differences, and immigration status.

I explored such characteristics through a Critical Race Theory (CRT) framework. Yosso (2006) described cultural wealth in Latinx communities as the sum of different forms of capital, or “the total extent of an individual’s accumulated assets and resources” (p. 50). She identified such resources as aspirational, familial, social, navigational, resistant, and linguistic capital. This study revealed these forms of capital through Latinx parents’ counterstories, which are narratives centered on the experiential knowledge of people of color. This study provides a unique contribution to the limited educational research on Latinx immigrants in metro Atlanta’s public schools by highlighting educational tensions as well as identifying the kinds of cultural wealth that assist Latinx parents in navigating them. Findings are useful because the Latinx’ counterstories help educators develop more successful school programs by considering the Latinx families’ needs and taking into account their contributions to education.

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