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Table of contents :
Half Title
Foreword—Unapologetic Biculturalism: Beyond the Politics of Tolerance
Author's Preface
Chapter 1 The Problem with Traditional American Pedagogy and Practice
Chapter 2 The Link between Culture and Power
Chapter 3 A Critical Theory of Cultural Democracy
Chapter 4 Testing, Inequality, and the Brain
Chapter 5 The Foundation for a Critical Bicultural Pedagogy
Chapter 6 Creating the Conditions for Cultural Democracy in the Classroom
Chapter 7 Forging a Critical Bicultural Praxis: Stories from the Field
About the Author
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Series in Critical Narrative Donaldo Macedo, Series Editor University of Massachusetts Boston Now in Print The Hegemony of English by Donaldo Macedo, Bessie Dendrinos, and Panayota Gounari (2003) Letters from Lexington: Reflections on Propaganda New Updated Edition by Noam Chomsky (2004) Pedagogy of Indignation by Paulo Freire (2004) Howard Zinn on Democratic Education by Howard Zinn, with Donaldo Macedo (2005) How Children Learn: Getting Beyond the Deficit Myth by Terese Fayden (2005) The Globalization of Racism edited by Donaldo Macedo and Panayota Gounari (2006) Daring to Dream: Toward a Pedagogy of the Unfinished by Paulo Freire (2007) Class in Culture by Teresa L. Ebert and Mas’ud Zavarzadeh (2008) Dear Paulo: Letters from Those Who Dare Teach by Sonia Nieto (2008) Uncommon Sense from the Writings of Howard Zinn (2008) Paulo Freire and the Curriculum by Georgios Grollios (2009) Freedom at Work: Language, Professional, and Intellectual Development in Schools by María E. Torres-Guzmán with Ruth Swinney (2009) The Latinization of U.S. Schools: Successful Teaching and Learning in Shifting Cultural Contexts by Jason G. Irizarry (2011) Culture and Power in the Classroom: Educational Foundations for the Schooling of Bicultural Students by Antonia Darder (2011)




Culture and Power in the Classroom Educational Foundations for the Schooling of Bicultural Students

Antonia Darder With a Foreword by Sonia Nieto


First published 2012 by Paradigm Publishers Published 2016 by Routledge 2 Park Square, Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon OX14 4RN 711 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10017, USA Routledge is an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group, an informa business Copyright © 2012, Taylor & Francis. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced or utilised in any form or by any electronic, mechanical, or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publishers. Notice: Product or corporate names may be trademarks or registered trademarks, and are used only for identification and explanation without intent to infringe. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Darder, Antonia. Culture and power in the classroom : educational foundations for the schooling of bicultural students / Antonia Darder ; with a foreword by Sonia Nieto. — The twentieth anniversary ed. p. cm. — (Series in critical narrative) Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 978-1-61205-069-0 (hardback : alk. paper) — ISBN 978-1-61205-070-6 (pbk. : alk. paper) 1. Multicultural education—United States. 2. Educational sociology—United States. 3. Educational equalization—United States. 4. Teaching. I. Title. LC1099.3.D37 2012 370.1170973—dc23 2011022075 Designed and Typeset by Straight Creek Bookmakers. ISBN 13:978-1-61205-069-0 (hbk) ISBN 13:978-1-61205-070-6 (pbk)


This book is dedicated to Mr. Horace Viditoe, A. P. Gonzalez, Carol Brunson Day, and Barbara Richardson— brilliant educators of color who believed in me when I could barely believe in myself.


Contents Foreword—Unapologetic Biculturalism: Beyond the Politics of Tolerance, by Donaldo Macedo Foreword by Sonia Nieto Acknowledgments Author's Preface Chapter 1 The Problem with Traditional American Pedagogy and Practice Chapter 2 The Link between Culture and Power Chapter 3 A Critical Theory of Cultural Democracy Chapter 4 Testing, Inequality, and the Brain Chapter 5 The Foundation for a Critical Bicultural Pedagogy Chapter 6 Creating the Conditions for Cultural Democracy in the Classroom Chapter 7 Forging a Critical Bicultural Praxis: Stories from the Field Epilogue by Paulo Freire (original preface, 1991) Notes Bibliography Index About the Author


Fore word Unapologetic Biculturalism Beyond the Politics of Tolerance Donaldo Macedo Series Editor, University of Massachusetts–Boston At a 1987 CONFERENCE ON THE WORKS OF PAULO FREIRE, THE PRESENCE OF FREIRE himself reenergized the spirit and the vision of the progressive educators gathered that day at the University of California, Irvine, all of whom were adherents to Freire’s unshakable belief that no matter how difficult, change is possible. one voice in particular called out to me as it passionately and fearlessly denounced patriarchy and white supremacy—the voice of Antonia Darder. I still vividly remember sensing her bottled-up energy, her long-submerged voice that was fighting its way to the surface. Paulo’s presence at the conference brought renewed to hope to progressive educators such as Tom Wilson, Henry Giroux, Peter McLaren, Antonia Darder, Anaida Colon-Muniz, and me, a far-flung group that had coalesced around the conviction that it was imperative to fight against the right-wing attacks that were shaping the educational reform debate in the 1980s. As Antonia Darder wrote about that time, “liberal influences [were being] suffocated by a politically mean-spirited neo-conservative movement, which began to gain momentum and prominence in the 1980’s through the support of former Secretary of Education William Bennett.” This reactionary movement was fast appropriating the educational narrative with its call for “the common utilization of behavioral objectives and, more recently, standardization of knowledge as a framework for the curriculum development and implementation.” This call constituted a spirited defense of Western tradition as exemplified by Allan Bloom’s book, The Closing of the American Mind, which had “tapped the [conservative] and the elitists’ collective nerve” (Aronowitz & Giroux, 1988, p. 177). Although Darder’s unrelenting interrogations during her interventions at the Freire conference made some people uncomfortable, her comments presaged the current obscene “Arizonafication” of America, as Latinas/os and other non-white ethnic groups are subjected to incessant attacks by ultra-right conservative politicians and talking heads who blame the ills of U.S. society—from rising crime rates to economic insecurity—on the presence of undocumented immigrants. They conveniently overlook the fact that these same immigrants constitute the backbone of our economy in the service and agricultural sectors from California to the Carolinas. By stirring people’s fear and normalizing xenophobia, the antiimmigrant movement made racial profiling legal in Arizona, and twenty-three other states are moving quickly to pass similarly draconian laws to contain the invasion of what former presidential candidate David Duke referred to as “hordes of dusty third world peoples.” Duke went on to say that “with each passing hour our economic well-being, cultural heritage, freedom, and racial roots are being battered into oblivion” (cited in Macedo & Bartolomé, 1999, p. 12). Antonia Darder’s new edition of Culture and Power in the Classroom is particularly timely given the insidious xenophobia that is now shaping our society and the efforts underway at many U.S. higher education institutions to close down ethnic studies. Meanwhile, the penal system hustles to build more jails to house those who have been ethnically profiled and excluded. This book provides educators with critical counterhegemonic tools to deconstruct the dominant ideology’s defense of the tradition espoused by Allan Bloom, E. D. Hirsch, and other conservative scholars. In a pointed attack on multicultural education, they argue that multicultural education should be abandoned in favor of a reemphasis on content that is rooted in our “common cultural” background and knowledge. The brilliance of Darder’s proposals lies in her courage to indict both conservative and liberal educators who fail to recognize that the “common culture” considers the term descriptive rather than anthropological and political. As Aronowitz and Giroux (1988), write, “[The common culture’s] meaning is fixed in the past, and its essence is that it provides the public with a common referent for communication and exchange” (p. 187). Darder astutely problematizes the notion of common culture as nothing less than a veiled information-banking model based on a “selective selection” of the features of Western cultures that “dismisses the notion that culture has any determinate relation to the practices of 9

power and politics or is largely defined as part of an ongoing struggle to move history, experience, knowledge, and the meaning of everyday life in one’s own terms” (Aronowitz & Giroux, 1988, p. 186). Her critique goes beyond a denunciation of the dominant fossilized encyclopedia of mainstream pedagogy that selectively leaves out other important cultural facts. She is equally critical of liberal multicultural education that, for all its promises, ends up celebrating an equally fossilized pedagogy that is devoid of any discussion of power relations that show how ideology “is present in capitalist social relationships based on class interests that in practice negate autonomy, despite adherence to the doctrine of individualism [where] . . . capitalism’s individualist ideological underpinnings simultaneously emphasize and deny the individual’s subjectivity.” Thus, Darder correctly interrogates the expansion of so-called multicultural education, with its rapid growth of textbooks ostensibly designed to teach racial and cultural tolerance. what these educational texts in fact do is hide the asymmetrical distribution of power and cultural capital through a form of paternalism that promises a dose of tolerance to the “other”—in other words, “I will tolerate you.” Missing from this message is a sense of mutual respect and even racial and cultural solidarity. As David Theo Goldberg (1993) argues, tolerance “presupposes that its object is morally repugnant, that it really needs to be reformed, that is, altered” (p. 6.). Culture and Power in the Classroom represents an alternative to the often facile liberal call for multicultural celebration and cultural tolerance. Darder truly understands the pernicious racism contained in the call for tolerance of different racial and ethnic groups by some white and non-white liberals. Such calls represent a thin veil behind which they hide their racism and classism, thus putting liberals in a compromising racial and class position. while calling for racial tolerance, a paternalistic term, liberals often maintain the privilege that is complicit with the dominant ideology. In other words, the call for tolerance never questions the asymmetrical power relations contained in the class structure that give them their privilege in the first place. Hence, many liberals, white and non-white alike, willingly call and work for cultural tolerance and diversity but are reluctant to confront issues of inequality, power, ethics, race, and ethnicity in a way that could actually lead to the kind of concrete social transformation that would make society more democratic and humane. For all the celebration of cultural diversity among “good liberals,” bicultural individuals are not really accepted as fully American, especially if they are nonwhite. Even my use of the term “dominant white ethnic group” jolts people who consider themselves apolitical. The very imposition of assimilation by the dominant ideology is replete with the false promises and limitations inherent in the myth that only by giving up your culture and language and assimilating can you become fully American. This hegemonic ideology is so successful that even its victims see it as natural and commonsensical. This ideological acceptance is normalized into the English language, which requires hyphenation when referring to certain non-white cultural and ethnic groups. Hence, it is common usage in the English language to have African-Americans, Hispanic-Americans, Asian-Americans, among other hyphenated Americans. Likewise, currently it would be considered odd to refer to European-Americans, German-Americans, British-Americans, and Belgian-Americans, although in the past, European groups that were considered less human, like the Irish, were also hyphenated. The limitations are demonstrated by the fact that currently only people of white European ancestry enjoy the privilege of been called American (no matter how recently they immigrated to the United States) without the use of hyphenation as a marker of unwashed ethnicity. Thus, the dominant ideology that imposes a blind assimilation also requires that we become immune to the dehumanization implicated in the use of hyphenation which, in turn, coerces the implementation of a cruel cultural and ethnic ranking that shapes and normalizes inequality. Cultural hegemony is so successfully complete that even the victims of the ranking see the labels as natural and that it is commonsensical to characterize themselves as such. To do otherwise and forcefully claim to be American without the hyphenated cultural and ethnic qualifiers can be regarded by the dominant white ethnic group as either not necessary or unnecessarily making a political statement—a political statement that does not sit well with most conservatives and “good liberals.” For example, even though President Obama is half White, he cannot not escape the hyphenation imposition, which in turn leads to incessant questions about his place of birth, the status of his citizenship, and his religious affiliation. Moreover, despite his being president of the United States, a sizable segment of the society expects him to constantly demonstrate his patriotism. Congressman Darrell Issa from California accuses Obama of being “one of the most corrupt presidents in modern times,” and none other than Sarah Palin quipped that the president apologizes for America, that he sees “America [as] the problem . . . [rather than] as the solution.” Given these contradistinctions, Antonia Darder insists that teachers need to be able to teach more than two 10

cultures. They also need to be aware of and share with their students the implications of White supremacy and the need to create otherness in the first place. Unfortunately, awareness of otherness is seldom used to valorize but to devalue, demonize, and dehumanize. Bicultural students who are confronted by this level of discrimination in the classroom cannot focus merely on the appropriate acquisition of the content and the dominant cultural capital; they must also wrangle with a linguistic and cultural drama, as Albert Memmi (1967) so eloquently stated. This wrangling process puts these students in the position of making externally imposed cultural choices that are, in the end, choiceless choices. In Culture and Power in the Classroom, Antonia Darder makes it abundantly clear that teachers need to understand that multicultural education matters. However, they must go beyond mere understanding, go beyond their contractual agreement to teach the multicultural content and to celebrate other cultures. They must wake up to the fact that all students matter. This means taking responsibility for exceeding the contractual agreement, becoming politically aware, and acknowledging that not all students are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve. Teachers must realize that beyond their students’ color, culture, class, ethnicity, and gender lie their deep needs, desires, dreams, and aspirations. Teachers need to lovingly denounce the dehumanization of high-stakes testing and announce that behind each standardized test score there is always a human face, and often a child who needs a safe pedagogical space to reflect on the tensions, fears, doubts, hopes, and dreams that are part and parcel of living in a borrowed cultural existence. Many of these children deal with an existence that is almost culturally schizophrenic—one in which they are present but not visible, and yet also visible but not present. This condition almost invariably results in the reality of a bicultural life—the constant juggling of at least two worlds, two cultures, and two languages that are always marked by asymmetrical power relations. In Culture and Power in the Classroom, Darder argues that biculturalism is a process through which we come to know what it means to be at the periphery of the intimate yet fragile relationship between a dominant and a dominated cultural world. Hence, our job as teachers is to defend students from the oppressive conditions they face at school, while also teaching the content that we are charged to teach. It is not only our job but also our duty to constantly protect the dignity of all students and to ensure that they do not fall victim to the discriminatory educational bell curve that often parades under a veil of science and democracy. Readers of Culture and Power in the Classroom will discover a language of critique that enables them to understand, for example, that “yes, we can” was unfortunately reduced to an empty slogan to win an election, and that President Obama’s educational policy that promotes a “Race to the Top” constitutes yet another ideological mechanism of Bush’s No Child Left Behind Act. As Darder writes, current school reform policy prioritizes high-stakes testing and “curricular content and design [that] reinforces a universalized, decontextualized, and ahistorical knowledge.” Through a language of critique, she courageously denounces the racist, classist, and discriminatory order of society that is the primary cause of “the gaps that separate Latino and African-American students from their white peers”—gaps that “actually [are] wider today than in 1975 [as] . . . the gap between low-income and high-income students has doubled.” Darder makes it abundantly clear that President Obama’s educational policy’s reliance on standardized test scores to close down lowperforming schools will only widen the already grotesque gaps between the poor and the rich. Given the ample empirical evidence that points to the strict correlation between poverty and low academic achievement, a sound step to address inequality and low academic achievement should focus first on closing down poverty rather than on closing down low-performing schools. What makes Antonia Darder’s book Culture and Power in the Classroom significant and relevant is that she goes beyond a mere language of critique. Darder challenges teachers to guide their students on a journey toward their cultural sources of hope—the same hope that emanated from Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta when they inspired exploited Mexican American laborers to claim their humanity and truly believe that “Sí se puede!” (Yes we can!). In Culture and Power in the Classroom, Antonia Darder dares us to license our dreams and reclaim our cultural dignity while proudly proclaiming with gritos de amor, “Sí se puede!”


Foreword Sonia Nieto THIS IS A CHALLENGING TIME FOR PUBLIC EDUCATION. IT IS A TIME CHARACTERIZED by the abandonment of students, particularly those who do not measure up to imposed and often irrelevant standards. It is time of distrust and disrespect for teachers, who are increasingly viewed as little more than test givers. It is a time of mean-spirited discourse about the profession of teaching, of excessive surveillance of teachers and students, and of a narrowing of the curriculum. It is a time of “teaching to the test,” “Race to the Top,” rigidly defined “scientifically based research,” and “value-added” assessments of teachers. It is, in sum, a time that students who are not from the so-called “mainstream” and teachers who do not tow the line are marginalized even more severely than when Culture and Power in the Classroom was first published. It is little wonder, then, that it is also a time of increasing dropout rates among students of color and lower rates of retention among teachers, especially those who teach in urban schools. This is also, thankfully, the time when Antonia Darder has chosen to release the second edition of her classic text. Although the situation for bicultural students was difficult when the book was first published, it has become even grimmer in the intervening twenty years. In 1998, despite the efforts of many community activists (who had right but not money on their side), bilingual education was eliminated in California. Arizona and Massachusetts—the birthplace of modern bilingual education—soon followed. In the intervening years, other draconian measures aimed at students of color, immigrants, and those living in poverty, as well as at teachers and teachers’ unions, have been enacted. A prime example is the 2001 No Child Left Behind law. Purportedly meant to help so-called “at-risk” students, it has instead led to a student-blaming and teacherbashing climate. Although there remain pockets of hope where teachers, parents, activists, and students find ways to honor and nurture the culture, language, and experiences of students and their communities, and where they struggle to provide all students with an education that is empowering and just, too many teachers and students have lost hope. The second edition of Culture and Power in the Classroom could not have come at a better time. Enormously significant for many teachers and community activists since it was first published, the book has changed how they view—and how they do—education, as we can see from the personal essays by teachers, professors, and community activists at the conclusion of the text. At the same time, no doubt many people over the years have encouraged Antonia Darder to revise her book for these new times. We are fortunate that she has. Different times call for different books, and this second edition is clearly a book for its time. What made this influential book so important when it was first released is still what makes it relevant today. First, there is its insistence on praxis, that is, on connecting theory with practice. Rather than shy away from introducing complex ideas to readers, the book purposely presented concepts such as hegemony, ideology, resistance, and cultural invasion to readers who were in all probability not familiar with these terms. Although some have been familiar with the effects of these terms in their lives, especially those who were bicultural themselves, Culture and Power in the Classroom gave them a new language with which to understand their position in the world, as well as their responsibility as teachers and community members to change it. Including both theoretical foundations and practical applications, this book took as its goal the peeling away of years of what Paulo Freire called “domesticating education” in order to arrive at a liberatory praxis. In the process, Antonia Darder developed a pedagogy of possibility that has given hope to so many people. Other features also made Culture and Power in the Classroom noteworthy. Unlike other texts that discuss educational failure as if it were context-free, the text provided a historical context for understanding underachievement in our nation. In addition, the book redefined certain terms and included them firmly in the discourse of education. Culture, for instance, was not presented as simply an accumulation of artifacts and quaint traditions, but rather as a way of creating meaning in life. As a result, the role of students and teachers as agents in the educational process was reaffirmed. Power too became a central focus of discussion in order to develop a theory of critical bicultural education. By grounding the issues of hegemony and ideology in the lived experiences of students and teachers, the book helped readers understand that power is present in every educational endeavor. 12

Although these same issues of praxis, context, and power, among others, remain at the heart of her approach to education, what makes this new edition noteworthy is that Darder has recognized that the times are meaner and more intransigent than before. Paradoxically, the times are also ripe for change as young educators, emboldened students, and empowered communities demand a better education. As a result, Darder includes a discussion of how school reform has changed to become more authoritarian and inflexible than ever, and she also addresses cutting-edge theories that give us hope for the future. This balance of reality and hope is just what is needed in these difficult times. Thoroughly revised to include the new thinking on diversity and learning, the book now also includes a new chapter on assessment and the brain, as well as thought-provoking and inspired reflections from teachers, parents, and community activists. This second edition has been a massive undertaking, one that will be welcomed by previous and new readers alike. In these times of dismissive attitudes toward teachers and disrespect for students, particularly those who are most vulnerable, Antonia Darder’s Culture and Power in the Classroom is a welcome relief.


Acknowledgments I WANT TO BEGIN BY ACKNOWLEDGING DEAN BIRKENKAMP, EXECUTIVE EDITOR AT Paradigm, who urged me six years ago to do a second edition of Culture and Power in the Classroom and then waited patiently until I warmed up to the idea. It was his confidence in the value of this work that made this volume possible. Thank you to Donaldo Macedo, my series editor and old comrade, who, without hesitation, wholeheartedly supported the inclusion of this volume in his series. My gratitude to Sonia Nieto, who has been a shining example of liberatory pedagogy and scholarship for so many in the field. I am honored by her solidarity. Many, many thanks to the authors of the praxis essays in this volume: Sharon, Makungu, Tilman, Theressa, Dolores, Eddie, Judy, Caron, Theresa, Laura G., Karen, Cam, Ed, and Laura M. Their insightful narratives truly empower and bring to life this work. I am so fortunate to have crossed their paths. Thank you to my many colleagues, but especially to Sharon Tettegah, who inspired me to look more closely at the question of culture and the brain. Our conversations rekindled my earlier interest in brain development and helped me to integrate more fully my past knowledge as a pediatric nurse and psychotherapist with my current work on culture and education. I also want to extend my appreciation to all the brilliant students who have critically pondered a million and one questions and issues with me over the years. They taught me most about the communal nature of knowledge and the emancipatory power of teaching and learning together with grace. Thank you to my loving family and friends. If it were not for their phone calls e-mails, texts, cards, Skype sessions, and FB messages, I never would have survived the long eight years of exile at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. It is good to be back home in L.A.! I am deeply thankful for my granddaughters, Jessica, Naomi, Sophia, and Hope—they fuel my commitment to struggle for justice, even through the toughest moments. I am so blessed by their unconditional love. And lastly, thank you to the many readers of Culture and Power in the Classroom over the last twenty years, who took the time to extend your thoughts and kind words of gratitude. Knowing the power that this work has had on your lives reminds me that there is always something greater at work in our lives than just our little pea brains etching words on a screen. Axe!


Author's Preface MANY CHANGES HAVE TRANSPIRED IN THE LAST TWENTY YEARS SINCE CULTURE AND Power in the Classroom was first published. yet, unfortunately, the changes have not altered the basic conditions of inequalities that were the impetus for the first edition. Rather, current conditions have only intensified the need for educators of disenfranchised student populations to be ever more vigilant and responsive to questions of social justice and human rights in education. True to the critical theoretical underpinnings of this book, it represents an uncompromising commitment to confront the manner in which traditional values of public education have, wittingly or unwittingly, sustained a hidden curriculum of cultural invasion and made a mockery of indigenous knowledge. As such, the dominant cultural values and practices of American public schooling has functioned to systematically marginalize and silence the voices of Black, Latino, Asian, Native American, Muslim, and other bicultural students in the United States. Hence, a primary purpose of this work is to articulate theoretical principles from which to develop a democratic foundation for a critical bicultural pedagogy. It is not meant to propose or provide instrumental formulas or recipes for duplication, imitation, or immediate execution of a specific model of practice. Rather, it is an attempt to provide a much needed critical language by which bicultural educators may evaluate critically their current practices with bicultural students and formulate new pedagogical directions in the interest of linking education to a politics of difference. In essence, this work represents a pedagogy of possibilities—one that, above all, respects the capacity of teachers to redefine their roles as transformative intellectuals rather than simple dispensers of sterile and decomposing knowledge. Despite twenty more years of continuing struggle by educators committed to democratic schooling, the need for an emancipatory critical pedagogy that can respond to the everyday needs of working-class students of color continues to be a crucial need, in light of rapid shifts in national demographics and the overwhelming politics of ultraconservative and neoliberal educational policies that have effectively worked to counter many of the social welfare programs and educational opportunities born of the civil rights era. Moreover, despite the large geographical areas in the United States with growing working-class populations of color, most teachers are still ill prepared to meet the academic and social needs of a majority of the children who enter their classrooms. This creates a twofold consequence that has only intensified over the last twenty years. First and foremost are the alarming statistics on attrition and dropout rates of bicultural students; and second is an increasing problem of morale that has led to high teacher attrition levels in many school districts today, as they are faced with cutbacks, lack of resources, and mounting uncertainty with respect to job security. This book attempts, in a small way, to address all of these concerns, through proposing a critical theoretical foundation that can specifically address the education of culturally and economically disenfranchised communities. In this text, the term bicultural is utilized instead of minority—a term that linguistically, and hence politically, reflects and perpetuates a view of subordinate cultures as deficient and disempowered. Bicultural, in this context, connotes an enculturation process that is distinct from that of affluent monocultural Euroamerican students. This distinction is derived from the fact that working-class bicultural students, throughout their development, must contend with (1) two cultural/class systems whose values are very often in direct conflict; and (2) a set of sociopolitical and historical forces dissimilar to those of mainstream Euroamerican students and the educational institutions that bicultural students must attend. The term is also intended to project a more accurate picture of the worldview of these student must negotiate. The term cultural democracy reflects the perspective and philosophy first introduced by Ramirez and Castañeda in their work with Mexican American children in the early 1970s. Specifically, the concept speaks to an educational philosophy that is also in sync with the 1996 Universal Declaration of Linguistic Rights, which asserts that individuals have the right to be educated in their own language and primary culture, and have the right to cultivate and maintain a bicultural identity—that is, to retain identification with their culture of origin while learning to survive effectively within the institutional values of the dominant society. Further, this view argues for the necessity of institutional milieus, curricular materials, and educational approaches that are in sync with students’ histories, sociopolitical realities, economic contexts, and primary cultural orientation. 15

Although this definition represents only a starting point, the text to follow expands its scope to create a critical political construct for bicultural education. Critical pedagogy refers to an educational approach rooted in the tradition of critical theory. Critical educators perceive their primary function as emancipatory and their primary purpose as a commitment to creating the conditions for students to learn skills, knowledge, and modes of inquiry that will allow them to examine critically the role that society has played in their self-formation and the formation of their community histories. More specifically, critical pedagogy is designed to provide students the knowledge with which to examine how society has functioned to shape and constrain their aspirations and goals and prevent them from even dreaming about a life outside the one they presently know (Giroux, 1981). A major concern of critical pedagogy is that all students develop the critical capacities to reflect, critique, and act to transform the conditions under which they live. Further, critical pedagogy is one of the few educational perspectives that recognizes the need to develop sensitivity to aspects of culture. Since the first edition of this book, teaching to the test and the demise of bilingual education rights, former initial institutional efforts to critically address the needs of bicultural students in the United States, have been interrupted and dismantled. Nevertheless, there have been critical educators who have worked in a variety of ways to bring the principles of this book into action within their praxis with bicultural students, parents, and communities. Their stories, integral to this new volume, comprise a significant addition to our understanding of how different educators translate and reinvent the bicultural theories of education of this book into a living praxis. A new area of study that is quickly gaining steam in education is working to examine more closely the manner in which new discoveries in neuroscience and brain function might help us to make better sense of the manner in which educational inequalities negatively impact students from oppressed communities. A new chapter in this volume provides an initial philosophical conceptualization of the ways in which instrumentalized and fragmented forms of educational assessment inherently place poor and working-class children of color at a major disadvantage in both their intellectual formation and academic development. The critical foundation for bicultural education developed here represents only a partial step toward understanding the social and material conditions of bicultural students in the United States. It is offered in the hope that it will reinvigorate a much-needed dialogue, which still remains at the margins of contemporary debates of public education and democratic life. As such, it is meant to affirm openly and uncompromisingly the emancipatory visions of critical educators everywhere who seek to enact an educational process that respects the dignity and sovereignty of indigenous cultural ways of knowing, living, and being. At the close of the first decade of this millennium, the impunity of the powerful over the oppressed has resulted in numerous global uprisings that echo the sentiment and fury of former historical revolutionary moments. In the United States, recent shootings of innocent people in Arizona caught in the crossfire of a looming anti-immigrant hysteria serve as warning signs to critical educators that we must vigorously embrace our vital roles as cultural workers on behalf of not only social justice and democracy, but of our very humanity. This book is a small effort toward bringing to an end the historical educational neglect and abuses that continue to exist with respect to bicultural students. It is intended as a transformative intellectual act of empowerment that can be of service to those committed educators who struggle to overcome the consequences of institutional travesties. But even more, it represents a political project of hope and possibility fueled by a faith in the collective power of human beings to struggle for freedom from the bondage of social oppression.


Chapter 1 The Problem with Traditional American Pedagogy and Practice Any education given by a group tends to socialize its members, but the quality and value of the socialization depends upon the habits and aims of the group. John Dewey, Democracy and Education, 1916

HISTORICALLY, PUBLIC EDUCATION IN THE UNITED STATES HAS BEEN THE ONLY legitimate hope for escape from poverty for those from racialized communities. Contrary to the prevailing stereotypical notion that parents of color prevent their children from engaging successfully in educational pursuits, many of these parents actively encourage, urge, support, and struggle for their children to get an education. Many examples exist of parents who toiled long hours, sold prized possessions, and became heavily indebted for the sole purpose of assisting their children through college. Yet despite heroic efforts by parents and long-standing community movements to improve the nature of education and create greater opportunities for bicultural1 students, working-class Black, Latino, Native American, and other students of color continue to fall through the cracks in alarming numbers. In major cities such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, New york, and Miami, where bicultural students comprise from 70 to 90 percent of the student population, dropout rates of 50 percent and greater are the norm. According to the Alliance for Excellent Education: Over fifty years after Brown vs. Board of Education, there are still great disparities between students of color and white students in academic achievement. Students of color are disproportionately represented in the nation’s dropout statistics: of the more than 1.2 million students who fail to graduate from high school on time each year, more than half are students of color, despite the fact that these students make up less than 40 percent of the [the nation’s] high school population. Only 57.8 percent of Latino students, 53.4 percent of African American students, and 49.3 percent of American Indian and Alaska Native students entering ninth grade earn a high school diploma four years later. Though the graduation rate for Asian American students is 80.2 percent—roughly four percentage points higher than the white student average—students from some ethnic subgroups, like Southeast Asians and Pacific Islanders, do not fare as well academically.2

Of those students of color who do manage to graduate high school and enroll in college, fewer than 50 percent complete degrees.3 And although the degree attainment rates have increased for working-class bicultural students, a recent baseline report of public education systems by Education Trust concludes, “Although the degree-attainment rates of minority and low-income students have improved over the past three decades, these rates have not kept pace with those of [mainstream] students. The gaps that separate Latino and African-American students from their white peers actually are wider today than in 1975, and the gap between low-income and high-income students has doubled.”4 In fact, the greatest increase in degree attainment since 1975 is among high-income students, who went from a rate of 38 percent in 1975 to 76 percent in 2007. What is the cause of this long history of underachievement among students of color, particularly when compared to their Euroamerican counterparts? Traditional attempts to address this question have engendered various and distinct points of view. The most persistent arguments in the field of education have been waged between two contrasting perspectives: nature (genetics) versus nurture (environment). These views have evolved as long-standing historical debates have swung back and forth like a pendulum, depending on the social prevailing views of the time. Early Western contributors of the debate included such figures as Aristotle, Plato, and St. Thomas Aquinas. In the seventeenth century, French philosopher René Descartes expounded on the belief that human beings were born with particular traits or characteristics that determined their underlying capacities. In contrast, British philosophers like John Locke, following Aristotle’s lead, postulated an epistemological view that the human being was born a tabula rasa, embracing an empirical perspective that privileged utmost the role of experience in the development of human beings. A century later, Charles Galton, a cousin of Darwin, theorized the influence of genetics and environment on a person’s development in English Men of Science: Their Nature and Nurture, where he argued that “Nature is all that a man brings with himself into the world; nurture is every influence that affects him after his birth.” 17

Those who view the problem of underachievement among bicultural students as one of nature have been active in an effort to establish scientific proof that the primary cause is related to a deficit in genetic traits. The work of James S. Coleman and colleagues (1966) and Arthur Jensen (1969), directly or indirectly, supported this notion. Following civil rights struggles in the United States, explicit references to genetics as the cause of underachievement receded, as a greater emphasis was placed on environmental concerns. However, more recently the genetics explanation of intelligence was resurrected once more. Following in the footsteps of Arthur Jensen, Richard Hernstein and Charles Murray (1994) argue in The Bell Curve that intelligence is accurately measurable across racial and language boundaries, genetically heritable and fixed, and as such should be a factor in making policy decisions. From this perspective, the achievement gap of working-class bicultural students will more readily be interpreted as biologically determined. It is significant to note at this juncture that proponents who sit on this side of the debate have, in general, been associated with a more conservative educational ideology. On the other side of the argument, we find the nurture advocates (Miller, 1958; Bloom, 1964; Lewis, 1966; Moynihan, 1965; Cohen, Frankel, & Brewer, 1968) who, for the most part, are considered to espouse a liberal view. The underachievement of bicultural students from this lens is considered to be primarily the result of the environment’s impact on the individual. Those who argue for the nurture side readily point to the cycle of poverty, cultural deprivation, and the child’s underprivileged environment as the fundamental cause of the problem. Hence, liberal policies associated with a nurture philosophy call for compensatory programs and reform efforts that can function to eliminate the debilitating effects that the home environment has had on bicultural students. Although it may not be apparent at first glance, both perspectives equally place the burden of responsibility for academic failure on the students’ shoulders. Although the dynamics of victim blaming are much more obvious within a conservative perspective, which clearly functions in support of the status quo, liberal victimblaming ideologies function in a more hidden and subtle manner. Although liberals, in essence, recognize that inequity exists in American society, they seek solutions that will work to prepare (change or fix) the bicultural student so that she or he will be able to compete better in the (unequal) system. Yet, after four decades of liberal educational reforms, followed by neoliberal solutions to address problems of schooling, both educational and income inequalities stubbornly persist, with fewer than 10 percent of lowincome students of color ever moving out of the lower social stratum. of those who do, most only move a few short steps up the social mobility scale (deLone, 1979). In 2005, 12.6 percent of all Americans were poor, and more than 90 million people had incomes below 200 percent of federal poverty thresholds.5 Five years later, the ranks of working-age poor have climbed to the highest level since the 1960s, as the recession threw millions of people out of work, leaving one in seven Americans in poverty.6 Meanwhile, great liberal hopes of ameliorating the inequities of the system began to sour in the 1980s, as liberal influences began to be suffocated by a politically mean-spirited neoconservative movement, which began to gain momentum and prominence in the 1980s through the support of former Secretary of Education William Bennett. The oppressive schooling conditions were exacerbated as the high-stakes testing mania unfurled unchecked and the privatization of public education via vouchers campaigns and charter school initiatives began to siphon resources away from public education. Why did liberal educational reforms fail to correct the effects of environmental forces that produce inequality in schools? Are conservative theories of natural intelligence and their notions of genetic intellectual deficiency valid? Or has the etiology of the problem in both instances been grossly misdiagnosed? In considering these questions, it is significant to note again that conservatives and liberals alike have consistently identified the cause and the problem within the student. Either the bicultural student is considered to be genetically inferior or environmentally inferior; nonetheless, in both cases the cause and problem are located inherently in the student. It is particularly revealing that neither view has ever seriously challenged the traditional educational values and practices that structure relationships in schools or placed on them directly the responsibility for the underachievement of bicultural students. Rather than speaking about “high-risk” students, it seems that it would be more accurate to speak of “high-risk” institutions—that is, institutions that adversely impact the academic opportunities and possibilities of bicultural students. Hence, if we are to move toward effective strategies that promote the academic success of bicultural students, we must begin by asking this fundamental question: How does traditional American pedagogy 18

perpetuate the underachievement of working-class students of color? Through an analysis of those values that inform American educational theories and practices, we can begin to understand better how particular ideologies perpetuate inequalities and function systematically to oppress bicultural students in this country.


A Critique of Traditional American Pedagogy Traditional American pedagogy generally has been divided into two perspectives: conservative and liberal. Both these views essentially uphold the notion that the object of education is the free, enterprising, independent individual, and that students should be educated in order to adapt to the existing configurations of power that make up the dominant society. This is so, even when the outcome reproduces consistently economic inequalities and social exclusions. Conservatives, for the most part, are intent on maintaining the system as is, in that they are convinced of the rectitude of a hierarchical society, based on an appearance of meritocratic rule, while covertly conserving the economic arrangements of capitalism and the free market. Any changes should be considered very carefully and implemented very gradually, for fear of the outcome of an unruly civil society. Liberals, on the other hand, do recognize inequalities and social exclusion inherent in the system and the need for change; nevertheless, they too believe that the American capitalist system is fundamentally superior and that it can function effectively with simply a few modifications by way of compensatory programs and reform policies. It is interesting to note that these reform programs have often been perceived by many conservatives as the cause of social problems, when reforms fail to yield their promised outcomes. This is particularly true with respect to the educational concerns of bicultural students. Unfortunately, this phenomenon has only intensified in the last two decades, as neoliberalism and neoconservatism have united and morphed into an authoritarian populism (Apple, 1999) known currently as the Tea Party. The rallying cry of this splinter ultraconservative movement is the economy—excess government spending, a weak economy, high unemployment—but they blame the welfare economy for the current recession, as opposed to an unregulated financial market that took perilous risks and placed responsibility for those risks on the taxpayer. Meanwhile, this group has directed very little anger toward Wall Street and actually encourages government to reduce taxes in order to let the free market flourish. This is so despite the fact that rising unemployment has been a feature of the American economy since the Reagan administration’s abandonment of Keynesian policies in the early 1980s, policies that provided benefits to disenfranchised communities. To more easily comprehend the long-term effects of both traditional views on bicultural communities, it is helpful to turn for a moment to the specific values that shape these perspectives.

Conservative Educational Discourse Central to the very nature of conservative educational discourse is the implicit purpose of conserving the social and economic status quo through the perpetuation of institutional values and relationships that safeguard dominant power structures. Hence a major emphasis of such an ideology, by necessity, is related to basic values of uniformity, consensus, and ethnocentrism (Kincheloe, 2008a). Without the people’s consensus and uniformity of belief in the existing nature of democracy and the unquestioning superiority of the dominant cultural worldview, many of the currently existing dominant power structures might long ago have become endangered species in the United States. A prominent value that clearly supports different forms of cultural oppression (i.e., classism, racism, sexism, homophobia, disablism) and that is widely reinforced by a conservative educational discourse is that of the existing hierarchical structure of society. It is precisely the acceptance of this social view that functions to guarantee that, for the most part, students from the dominant culture will end up at the top of the hierarchy, and students from the subordinate cultures will end up at the bottom. In the United States, as in all capitalist societies, the most politically powerful are those who control the bulk of society’s resources,7 including the military and state apparatuses. C. Wright Mills (1956), in his seminal work The Power Elite, categorized the group as composed of the most elevated political leaders, including the president and a handful of key cabinet members and close advisers; major corporate owners and managers; and high-ranking military officers. Perhaps, if he were writing in this era, he would also include entertainment celebrities, whose prominence in the popular culture effectively “disguises those who possess true power: corporations and the oligarchic elite” 20

(Hedges, 2010, p. 33). The economic and institutional control of the power elite is clearly perpetuated from generation to generation through the process of schooling, which is defined by the superclass and its aspirants as a source of status. As such, the dominant culture strives systematically to control the structure of schooling and to ensure that its children are clearly placed in secure positions of power to enter controlling roles in American society. In the last twenty years, this frenzy for securing elite educational opportunities for children of the affluent has become so intense that parents today compete in unprecedented ways to ensure that their preschoolers and kindergarteners are accepted in exclusive educational programs.8 Samuel Bowles and Herbert Gintis (1976) argue in their treatise Schooling in Capitalist America that the social hierarchy is not only maintained along divisions of cognitive skills, but also—even more importantly— along noncognitive or behavioral skills that are directly related to social class. These skills, which are differentially reinforced by different schools and among students in the same educational environments, are most significant in relation to what students learn about their appropriate future roles and social location within society. This is evident in the nature of behaviors that are rewarded in affluent students (i.e., aggressiveness, original thinking, freedom of movement, autonomy, etc.) and those passive or allegedly civilized behaviors rewarded in working-class bicultural students. Although it is clear that a colonizing knowledge9 is imparted to both, it is far more detrimental in its consequences to the lives of bicultural students, who comprise a disproportionately larger number of the disenfranchised. over the years, a variety of critical scholars, including Martin Carnoy (1974), Stanley Aronowitz (1992, 2004), Michael Apple (1999, 2007), Richard Brosio (1994), and Jean Anyon (1980, 1997), have written about issues tied to the economy, social class, racism, and the reproduction of knowledge in schools. Carnoy (1974) explains this process in the following manner: Learning in public schools is organized to maintain the hierarchical structure. Children do not learn about their environment from the perspective of their own reality, but from the white wealthy view. Thus, poverty, drug addiction, and crime are an individual failing rather than the result of an inequitable and racist economy; children are taught to compete for the limited “top” positions in society rather than working together to improve their collective condition. (p. 366)

Thus, bicultural students are socialized to perceive their place in society within a hierarchical structure that is informed by values that benefit the dominant culture. As such, schools, as well as other social institutions, produce and interpret knowledge that serves as a silencing agent in that it relegates greater legitimacy to the abstract reality developed by this knowledge than the actual daily experiences that shape students’ lives. This hierarchical socialization is then further reinforced by the fact that success or failure in school is considered an individual responsibility. When bicultural students perform poorly, it is clearly considered the students’ fault. The fact that opportunities to succeed in the dominant culture are unequally distributed is ignored in traditional educational discourses. This individualization of responsibility serves effectively to diffuse class and racialized hostilities. As such, it effectively provides an acceptable justification for the unequal distribution of resources in American society. American schools strongly reinforce an acceptance of differential roles in the economy and society as a just and democratic way of organizing social relations. In this manner, the class system of education provides an effective vehicle for the dominant culture to civilize racialized populations to ensure that society remains orderly and safe. As such, the dominant culture is able to maintain its status of privilege and power over society and its institutions. In an effort to understand how these values function, it is worth noting that for the large majority of bicultural students, schooling in the United States is structured to limit individual choice by defining wellspecified and uncreative roles in the social and economic hierarchy (Aronowitz, 2004). Schooling defines students’ potential for them on the basis of the hierarchy’s needs, while ignoring the needs of students. Schooling for a hierarchical structure is therefore a colonizing device. It may change the types of choices that individuals from subordinated cultures can have, but nonetheless it serves to limit the control bicultural students can ultimately have over their own lives (Bowles & Gintis, 1976; Apple, 1999). The conservative educational discourse is also deeply entrenched in a positivist ideology: a view of the world that is clearly governed by an instrumentally technocratic rationality that glorifies a logic and method based on the natural sciences. With its emphasis on technical knowledge, it enforces an empirical analytical method of inquiry that incorporates the notion of quantifiable objective facts and neutral observation. Henry Giroux 21

(1981) elaborates on the values that engender this “culture of positivism”10 in American schools: In this view, knowledge is objective . . . classroom knowledge is often treated as an external body of information, the production of which appears to be independent of human beings. From this perspective, objective knowledge is viewed as independent of time and place; it becomes universalized, ahistorical knowledge. Moreover, it is expressed in a language that is basically technical and allegedly value-free. . . . Knowledge, then, becomes not countable and measurable, it also becomes impersonal. Teaching in this pedagogical paradigm is usually discipline-based and treats subject matter in a compartmentalized and atomized fashion. (p. 52)

This conservative discourse often functions to promote passivity among bicultural students through its adherence to a view of knowledge as objective, separate, and devoid of the knowing subject. A major underlying assumption that supports this perspective is based on the notion that there exists a dichotomy between human beings and the world. As a consequence, students are trapped into reductionist behavioral definitions, while learning is reduced to the transmission of predefined knowledge. This view is clearly inherent in what Paulo Freire (1970b), in Pedagogy of the Oppressed, describes as a “banking” system of education, which incorporates a fundamentally “narrative” character: It involves a narrating subject (the teacher) and patient, listening objects (the students). The contents, whether values or empirical dimensions of reality, tend in the process to become lifeless and petrified. . . . The teacher talks about reality as if it were motionless, static, compartmentalized, and predictable. or else, he [or she] expounds on a topic completely alien to the existential experience of the student. (p. 57)

The technocratic interests that inform dominant educational discourses are based on a view of knowledge that perpetuates an acceptance of submission to laws governing the technical mastery of human beings and nature. This is particularly apparent in the instrumental definition of theory as a scientific framework for the manipulation of the environment with the purpose of accomplishing a particular state of affairs or preventing its occurrence. It is this logic, with its emphasis on control, prediction, and certainty, that permits the disregard of historical consciousness, particularly as it relates to subordinate cultures; the negation of human agency through the systematic silencing of student voices; and an educational structure of dominance that fundamentally functions to support the needs of the existing power relations and their corresponding social formations (Giroux, 1981). A final characteristic that supports inequity in American schools is the traditional, uncritical acceptance of the existing relationship between schools and the larger society. Schools are viewed as neutral and apolitical institutions whose sole purpose is to educate students with the necessary knowledge and skills to render them functional in (and to) society. It is this basic lack of inquiry into the relationship between schools and society that permits the structure and ideology of the dominant culture to be rendered unproblematic and the oppressive contradictions inherent in this oppressive view of the world to remain concealed within the mainstream educational process (Aronowitz & Giroux, 1985; Apple, 1996).

Liberal Educational Discourse In contrast to the positivist rationality that informs traditional conservative pedagogy, a liberal educational discourse strongly incorporates the central pedagogical themes of appropriation, subjectivity, and intentionality, along with a strong humanistic emphasis on the uniqueness of the individual. True to its hermeneutic principles, a liberal educational perspective regards the student as an active participant in the learning process, who is constantly negotiating and renegotiating knowledge and meaning with others in a mutual effort to produce and define the constitutive rules that shape and mold their relationships and interactions with their world. Giroux (1981) elaborates on this interpretive view of knowledge: Instead of seeing school knowledge as objective and value-free, it was seen as a social constitution tied to the interests, perceptions, and experiences of those who produce and negotiate its meaning. Instead of teachers and students acting as agents of received values and truths, they were now viewed as producers of values and truths. As knowledge became relativized, modes of pedagogy developed that stressed experiences and interpersonal relations. (p. 12)

The liberal educational discourse has traditionally also embraced a philosophy of pluralism, which argues for a political ideal of equality and justice. The inherent contradiction in this perspective arises from a failure to engage the fundamental inequalities that exist in American society. “Pluralism ignores the tension between political democracy and economic inequality. That is, it fails to acknowledge that equality of opportunity and the importance of human reflectiveness may be impeded by particularistic private interests in the economic 22

sphere that use the state to impose severe constraints on certain segments of the population” (Giroux, 1983, p. 89). With its one-sided subjective notion of political participation and decision making, pluralism results in a deeply flawed political ideal that consequently does little to change the institutional conditions that perpetuate the oppression of subordinate cultures in the United States. Furthermore, this disregard for the basic nature of existing social relationships in the wider society permits liberal educators to fall into the trap of victim blaming. With its heavy reliance on subjective consciousness, descriptive orientation, and often epistemological relativism, the traditional liberal discourse is stripped of the criteria necessary for critically evaluating various interpretations of the existing social, cultural, economic, and political realities. The result is a distorted reading of power within both the classroom and society. This is particularly evident in liberal environmental interpretations of cognitive development, traditionally utilized by educators to explain the underachievement of bicultural students. This view encompasses the assumption that inequality of social standing reflects inequality of individual capability—a natural conclusion, given the liberal emphasis on the individual. Thus, those environmental criteria considered significant to the cognitive development of mainstream Euroamerican values are examined within bicultural communities to determine what could be the problem. Studies based on this view invariably determine, for example, that bicultural children do not receive enough “high-order” verbal and social stimulation in their homes; consequently—it is concluded—the children develop low verbal ability, which hinders their school performance. Thus, questionable interpretations, generally in the absence of input from bicultural students, parents, or their communities, result in the perpetuation of racialized notions to explain the achievement gap (Darder & Torres, 2004). Over 40 years ago, Richard deLone (1979) posited a set of variations on this environmental theme so often voiced by liberal educators—epistemological interpretations that still persist among liberal teachers today, when trying to make sense of learning difficulties experienced by working-class students from racialized communities (Nieto, 2002/2010; Noguera, 2008; Stanton-Salazar, 2001; Valenzuela, 1999; Olsen, 1997). More specifically, the variations deLeon identifies are as follows: [Bicultural] children grow up in intellectually and verbally barren, “culturally deprived” homes, where they fail to receive enough stimulation from their parents to develop cognitive skills necessary to succeed in school and adulthood. [Bicultural] and working-class parents have rigid and authoritarian childrearing styles, which limit the stimulation their children receive and suppress the playfulness and natural curiosity that full cognitive development requires. Poverty creates its own culture, a culture of instant gratification, sexual promiscuity, and disorder, and the social and emotional development of children who grow up in this culture equips them poorly for success in schools or adulthood. [Bicultural] children belong to subcultures, the norms, values, and styles of which differ from those of the dominant society, and this difference makes it hard for them to cope with schools or ultimately the work requirements of the dominant society. (p. 127) Each of these views also incorporates a more general theory of childhood determinism, which argues that adult intelligence and social and emotional competencies are critically shaped during the early years. This has supported the liberal educational reform tradition that places greater emphasis on early childhood intervention (e.g., the Head Start program), despite the fact there is strong empirical evidence to support that similar levels of intervention with older children are just as effective in improving academic achievement (Darder 2002; deLone, 1979). It is also important to note that by espousing a liberal theory of childhood determinism and cultural deprivation, educational institutions have been permitted to function within a conceptual framework that serves to absolve schools from responsibility for the widespread underachievement of bicultural students, particularly as they move into the upper grades. Hence, it has permitted the dynamics of victim blaming to overshadow the necessity for systemic change and to distract attention from the basic causes of inequality while leaving the primary social injustices untouched (Darder, 2002; Blythe & Milner, 1994; Lawrence, 2003; Ryan, 1976). In many respects, the problem with a liberal educational discourse is that it falls into the ideological trap resulting from a dichotomized view of the world. while the conservative perspective disempowers students 23

through its insistence on an objective and neutral view of knowledge, the liberal discourse commits a similar offense in reverse. With its heavy emphasis on individual subjectivity, it fails to move beyond a relativistic notion of knowledge and hence disregards the ideological and structural constraints of the dominant culture that inform school practices that function to the detriment of many students of color. It is precisely this theoretical neglect that hinders the liberal educator’s ability to understand how meanings are maintained or how they might distort, rather than illuminate, reality. Consequently, despite its humanistic posture, the traditional liberal discourse also degenerates into an ahistorical, undialectical, and apolitical view that functions ultimately to curtail the forms of critical thinking and constructive dialogue that could lead to a critical and productive education for racialized students. Moreover, liberal notions of education, as do conservative ones, place so much stock on factors such as language and culture, poverty, crime and drugridden neighborhoods, and single-parent households as the primary determinants of learning that they fail to recognize the many strengths and capacities that children bring to the classroom, even when their lives are marked by dispossession. Unfortunately, this incessant “search for student deficiencies diverts attention from both the gap in opportunity, created by income inequality and inadequacy of resources for schools, and the gap between [bicultural] students’ performance and their potential to achieve” (Lawrence, 2003).


Critique of Traditional Educational Practices Any critique of U.S. schools would be incomplete without an examination of the educational practices that are informed by traditional pedagogical values. Various educational practices, in particular, have contributed to the underachievement of bicultural students. The effects of these practices are better understood by looking at the manner in which public schools have utilized a combination of meritocracy, intelligence testing, tracking and ability grouping, teacher expectations, and the curriculum to perpetuate inequality in the United States. And these practices have only intensified during the last decade, promoted by the Bush administration’s conservative neoliberal education agenda. Federal education policies tied to No Child Left Behind (NCLB) and, more recently, Race to the Top (RTT) have intensified a culture of public schooling predicated on the standardization of the curriculum and the use of high-stakes testing to the detriment of both working-class students of color and many of the teachers who are ill prepared to do their job. Moreover, these policies affirmed that the federal government would “serve as an arbiter or moderator between the corporate interest and the public interest” (Shapiro & Purpel, 2005), with little genuine concern for children who were left behind or had neither the material resources nor social opportunities to begin the race.

Meritocracy Meritocracy refers to an educational practice whereby the talented are chosen and moved ahead on the basis of their achievement. The talented, for the most part, are members of the dominant culture whose values comprise the very foundations that inform the knowledge and skills a student must possess or achieve to be designated as an individual who merits reward. The blind spot in this practical system of advancement is that while in reality it is schooling as a cultural and historical process in which select groups are positioned within asymmetrical relations of power on the basis of specific race, class, and gender groups, it sees itself rather as stemming from a process of schooling that is value free and neutral. Peter McLaren (1989/1998) elaborates further on the tautologous character of meritocracy in American schools: To argue that schools are meritocratic institutions is a conceptual tautology: successful learners are those whom schools reward. . . . Missing from this logic is a recognition that students from white, affluent backgrounds are privileged over other groups, not on the basis of merit but because of the advantage that comes with having money and increased social status. (p. 163)

Meritocracy constitutes a form of systematic rule by which the dominant culture controls the structure of schooling and secures for its children positions of power in society. Public schools persistently legitimize this myth of meritocracy to guarantee that successful participation in the educational system becomes the visible process by which individuals are allocated or rewarded with higher social status. Through a system of merit, the process of unequal privilege and entitlement is successfully smoke-screened under the guise of objectivity, fairness, and thus democratic selection (Au, 2009). As such, the perpetuation of this educational system of rewards for individual achievement plays a primary role in the reproduction and reinforcement of a hierarchically structured labor force, which is designed to keep in place the inequality of the status quo. Bowles and Gintis (1976) describe this particular function of schooling: Schools legitimate inequality through the ostensibly meritocratic manner by which they reward and promote students, and allocate them to distinct positions in the occupational hierarchy. They create and reinforce patterns of social class, racial, and sexual identification among students which allow them to relate “properly” to their eventual standing in the hierarchy of authority and status in the production process. Schools foster types of personal development compatible with the relationship of dominance and subordination in the economic sphere. (p. 11)

This function is more concretely reflected in the manner in which students are awarded degrees and credentialed for their successful participation in the educational system. These educational credentials, in turn, function to demonstrate an individual possesses the legitimate cultural capital that prospective employers and the society at large will recognize as adequate preparation, which then entitles the individual to occupational status. Consequently, as credentials have clearly become the essential ticket that determines whether an individual may gain access to jobs, goods, or economic security, the role schools play in the process of social 25

domination is widely expanded (Aronowitz, 2001; Aronowitz & Giroux, 1985). Further, the U.S. public school system, with its guarantee of social mobility (if only a student can demonstrate the right combination of innate intelligence, cognitive development, motivation, drive, and allegiance to the status quo), functions as a twofold justification of the dominant culture for explaining the unequal distribution of wealth in this country. On the one hand, it establishes the merit of the dominant culture as the main criterion for achieved social position; and on the other hand, it persists in blaming bicultural students for their underachievement by implying that they do not have the necessary intelligence, motivation, and/or drive to partake of the educational opportunities so readily, fairly, and freely offered them by a system of free public education (Oakes, 1993).

Intelligence Testing The utilization of intelligence testing in schools historically has played an insidious role in the perpetuation of underachievement among bicultural students. This is apparent in the fact that all forms of intelligence testing have traditionally incorporated a technically instrumental view of knowledge, emphasizing an empirical methodology to measure student achievement. This has resulted in the construction of testing instruments as value-free scientific tools that are considered to result in objective, measurable, and quantifiable data. As such, the predefined knowledge and skills tested have been given priority at the expense of the knowledge and experience students bring with them to the classroom. It is this educational positivism that fuels the continued evaluation of bicultural students based on intelligence quotients, reading scores, and the other forms of standardized test results, which are then utilized to sort, regulate, and control students and their subsequent achievement in American schools (Au, 2009; McLaren, 1989/1998). Intelligence quotient (IQ) scores, in particular, have been the means by which schools have rationalized student selection procedures to make them appear more democratic and to conceal their role in sustaining the hierarchical nature of society. IQ measures have been used consistently as a means to secure acceptance of an individual’s allotted place in society; and in this respect, IQ testing has functioned clearly as a political enterprise of the dominant culture while masquerading in the guise of an objective and scientific measure of innate intelligence. Liam Hudson (1972), writing about IQ testing in Race and Intelligence, argues, “The use of IQ tests has in fact taken on many of the qualities of a mystic rite. IQ has come to be seen as a measurement that not merely summarizes the individual’s capacity to perform tasks, but one which, in some unspecified way, puts a number to his [or her] essential worth” (p. 15). Even more disconcerting is the commonsensical manner in which most educators, whether conservative or liberal minded, have come to accept not only the legitimacy of IQ testing to determine the capacity of a child’s intelligence, but also its fixed determination. There is no doubt that study after study reveals that children from the dominant culture do far better on IQ tests than bicultural children (Hernstein & Murray, 1996; Rushton & Jensen, 2005; Dunn, 1987; Garrett, 1973; Shuey, 1958, 1966; Phillips, 1914).11 Hence, if one accepts the notion that IQ tests are in fact a measure of native intelligence, then it would be logical that Euroamerican children would be considered to have more innate intelligence than members of racialized groups. This view, whose focus has been the relationship of heredity and intelligence, has never gone without advocates, as evidenced in the work of the father of psychometrics, Francis Galton (1869) and more recently in the works of such hereditarians as Jensen (1969, 1998, 2000), Hernstein and Murray (1996), and Rushton and Jensen (2005). Rushton and Jensen persistently argue, “Black children from the best areas and schools (those producing the highest average scores) still average slightly lower than do white children with the lowest socioeconomic indicators” (Jensen, 1998b, pp. 357–360).” Beyond the obvious concern as to why such an incessant focus on “scientifically” proving the inferiority of racialized populations, another troublesome aspect of the hereditarian perspective is that traditionally it has failed to acknowledge the impact of the politically motivated paradigm that engenders this view and permits its perpetuation. This form of reasoning originates in the work of Charles Darwin—and subsequently his cousin, Francis Galton—and is informed by a ladder view of society, with the climbers moving with different weights given to them at the start of their journey preordaining the final result of the competition (Daniels & Houghton, 1972). It is this conservative fixed notion of the “survival of the fittest” and its view of the dominant culture as the fittest, without adequate attention to the social, cultural, or economic contexts of inequality, which supports the perpetuation of a hierarchical structure of society. 26

More recently, Rushton and Jensen (2005), who still rely on IQ as a valid measure of intelligence, defend their research and that of other genetically motivated scientists by focusing more on heritability to counter former claims of IQ as a fixed measure. They posit, Heritability describes what is the genetic contribution to individual differences in a particular population at a particular time, not what could be. If either the genetic or the environmental influences change (e.g., due to migration, greater educational opportunity, better nutrition), then the relative impact of genes and environment will change. The fact that the heritability of IQ is between 0.50 and 0.80 does not mean that individual differences are fixed and permanent. It does tell us that some individuals are genetically predisposed to be more teachable, more trainable, and more capable of changing than others, under current conditions. (p. 239)

Rushton and Jensen (2005) end their article “Thirty Years of Research on Race and Cognitive Ability” by stating, “Denial of any genetic component in human variation, including between groups, is not only poor science, it is likely to be injurious both to unique individuals and to the complex structure of societies” (p. 285). It is worth noting here (to be discussed further in Chapter 4) that this discussion is not meant as a blanket contestation against the presence of both universal human genetic predispositions as well as cultural predispositions—both linked to strategies of survival—but rather the manner in which conservative hereditarians read the “genetic differences” between students of color and white students. This is particularly of concern given more recent research in neuroscience (Lipina & Columbo, 2009; Dispenza, 2007; Blakemore & Frith, 2005) that seeks to critically engage with the impact of nature and nurture. This evolving scholarship suggests the need for educators to consider more carefully the manner in which gross inequalities and the stigma of racism, coupled with the cultural incompetencies of the traditional conditions of public schooling, negatively impact the academic achievement of working-class racialized populations. However, despite arguments to the contrary by many conservative educational advocates, IQ testing is unable to function as a fair measurement of innate intelligence because its primary concern is directly linked to a relative ranking of people based on criteria derived solely from the values of a selective cultural system and very selective and singular criteria of intelligence. Furthermore, intelligence quotients clearly represent a tradition that has judged intelligence according to what the tests test, and high intelligence is correlated to doing well in school—two variables that are ideologically inseparable and fully permeated by the values of the ruling class. As such, intelligence testing has been responsible for creating the disease it was intended to cure, while in turn it produces the rationalization that students who fail ought to fail (Au, 2009; Oakes, 1993; Richardson & Spears, 1972).

Tracking and Ability Grouping For more than a century, the Social Darwinian belief in the inferiority of children from the lower classes has fueled the practice of tracking or ability grouping—a practice persistently at work in the public schooling of working-class children in the United States. Tracking or ability grouping is defined as any school selection system that attempts to homogenize classroom placements in terms of students’ personal qualities, performances, or aspirations. Tracking is also a general term that includes both ability grouping and curriculum grouping, which places an emphasis upon social or racialized similarities (Wheelock, 1993; Oakes, 1990; Rosenbaum, 1976). Often, this form of grouping may involve the temporary placement of children by ability or interest in a particular classroom, or it may involve the grouping of an entire school. Accordingly, the public school system, through its persistent use of tracking and ability grouping, perpetuates a caste system in which the majority of children from low-income racialized communities leave school solely prepared to enter society at the same low-income levels as their parents before them (Aronowitz, 2004/2001; Apple, 2007; Oakes, 1990; Bowles & Gintis, 1976; Carter, 1970). Tracking, as a mechanism of exclusion that acts primarily as a sorting device, historically has supported and reinforced attitudes and practices that result in the unfair treatment of bicultural students. Anne Wheelock (1993), in Crossing Tracks, argues that tracking is harmful to disenfranchised students for a variety of reasons: (1) The criteria used to group kids are predominantly based on subjective perceptions and fairly narrow views of intelligence; (2) tracking leads students to take on labels, both in their own minds as well as in the minds of their teachers, that are usually associated with the pace of learning (such as the “slow” or “fast” learners); (3) because of this, teachers end up confusing students’ pace of learning with their capacity to learn; (4) teachers tend to associate students’ placement with the type of learners they are and therefore create different 27

expectations for different groups of students; (5) once students are grouped, they generally stay at that level for their school careers, and the gap between achievement levels becomes exaggerated over time; and thus, the notion that students’ achievement levels at any given time will predict their achievement in the future becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. The relationship between the tracking process and intelligence testing is a fundamental one to American education. Ability grouping and track placement have relied heavily on IQ and standardized test scores to determine student educational placement. Additionally, there is strong evidence to suggest that teacher recommendations and both the students’ race and social class also play a major role in determining student assignments (Au, 2009; Free, 2006; Green, 1999; Oakes, 1993). Consequently, due to inadequate testing and variables such as teacher bias and inadequate knowledge pertaining to the developmental needs of bicultural children, tracking systems have usually assigned a highly disproportionate number of bicultural students into low-ability groups, as compared to Euroamerican students (Wheelock, 1993; Reglin, 1992; Oakes, 1990; Suarez, 1978; Knowles & Prewitt, 1969). From both a statistical and a historical standpoint, it is significant to note that the curriculum content, type of instruction, degree of selection, frequency and type of teacher–student interaction, and available educational resources all tend to favor higher over lower tracks. Since tracking practices so often do result in racial and economic homogeneity within classrooms, these differences in content and experience can also help to explain the underachievement of bicultural students in American schools (Oakes, 1993; Wheelock, 1993; Persell, 1977). Bowles and Gintis argue that the tracking system is found at all levels of education. Schools, colleges, and universities reflect a stratified multitiered system that is dominated by Ivy League institutions; followed by less prestigious schools, colleges, and universities; and ending with poor urban schools and community colleges. What this system also tends to reflect is both the social status of the families of the students and the hierarchy of work relationships into which each type of student will move after graduation (Aronowitz, 2001). In Schooling in Capitalist America, Bowles and Gintis (1976) describe how this process works: The segregation of students not destined for the top has allowed the development of procedures and curricula more appropriate to their future “needs”, as defined by their actual occupational opportunities. The vast majority of students in [public schools] and community colleges are programmed for failure. Great efforts are made—through testing and counseling—to convince students that their lack of success is objectively attributable to their own inadequacies. . . . Bringing students’ hopes into line with the realities of the job market is facilitated by [the] tracking system. (p. 211)

Tracking has played, without a doubt, a critical role in the underachievement of bicultural students. Many studies in the field strongly indicate that tracking and ability grouping function to build confidence in a few chosen students, at the expense of the self-concept12 and formal educational development of a large proportion of the student population—a population that is disproportionately represented by bicultural students. This structural feature of tracking is considered to socialize students exposed to it so that those in lower tracks come to feel and perceive themselves as deserving less from life, whereas those in higher tracks come to expect more. It is in this way that tracking and ability grouping influence achievement, self-concept, and attitudes, via both teacher expectations and student internalization of these experiences. Hence, the outcome of tracking can be correlated with widely substantial inequality in society and also points to how these inequalities become accepted by the society at large (Au, 2009; Wheelock, 1993; Oakes, 1993; Giroux, 1981; Persell, 1977).

Teacher Expectations As suggested in the previous discussion, the tracking process is heavily mediated by teacher expectations, and many studies have been conducted that demonstrate the effect that teachers’ expectations have on the children in their classrooms (Oakes, 1993; Clark, 1965; Rosenthal & Jacobson, 1968; Rist, 1977; Glasgow, 1980). These findings generally have indicated that where children are perceived as bright, articulate, and motivated, the children fulfill the prophecy of success. Where children are perceived as slow, dull, and unmotivated, they reproduce the behavior and attitudes that support negative teacher expectations (Ryan, 1981). In assessing the impact of teacher expectations on bicultural students, it is important to understand what Caroline H. Persell (1977) calls the “genesis of teacher expectations,” which involves a number of essential factors. First, it includes the social context, which incorporates the prevailing social attitudes associated with race, class structure, and the social, political, and economic ideology. Second, teacher expectations are 28

influenced by the specific pedagogical theories and conceptual frameworks as well as educational structures and practices instilled by teacher training programs. This category reflects the climate of expectations surrounding testing, tracking, and record keeping. Third, crucial in the development of teacher expectations are the teacher’s personal experiences related to race, education, and peer socialization. And fourth, teacher expectations are found to be significantly influenced by student characteristics such as race, class, appearance, behavior, and test performance. What is particularly significant is that the sorting process that results from teachers’ expectations functions primarily as an unconscious mechanism, which helps to explain its hegemonic function and its resistance to change. As such, teacher expectations related to poor and working-class bicultural students can result in any of the following consequences, according to Persell (1976): Teachers are more likely to hold negative expectations for [poor and working-class bicultural] children than for middle-class white children. Teacher expectations are affected by testing and tracking, procedures which are themselves biased against [poor and working-class bicultural] children. It is precisely such negative information that . . . suggests [it] is more potent in its consequences than positive expectations. Expectations are related to teacher behaviors and to student cognitive changes even when IQ and achievement are controlled. Given the less powerful position of [poor and working-class bicultural] children in society, they appear to be more influenced by teacher expectations. (Persell 1977, p. 132) Moreover, Geneva Gay (2010) explains that discontinuities in teachers’ expectations “happen often and on many fronts, simply because teachers fail to recognize, understand, or appreciate the pervasive influence of culture on their own and their students’ attitudes, values, and behaviors” (p. 24). In examining the impact of teacher expectations and attention, James Rosenbaum (1976), Garrett Delavan (2009), and Gay (2010) place a strong emphasis on the ways that teachers’ expectations determine the manner in which they allocate attention to students in the classroom. These educators contend that the most important teacher bias is related to this distribution of attention. Teachers report that they prepare more for college-track than non-college-track classes, and they feel that lower-track business and general-track classes are so undemanding as to require little or no preparation at all. Lower-track students also report this same form of classroom treatment, noting that some lower-track teachers give a workbook assignment each day and then spend the class time ignoring students and reading the newspaper (Rosenbaum, 1976). William Ryan (1981) strongly argues that teacher expectations and the subsequent attention that students receive or fail to receive influence greatly their level of achievement in the classroom. He says studies have shown that even when there is little substantial difference in the quantity of interaction between high-expectancy and low-expectancy groups, the qualitative differences are great. With students of whom they hold high expectations, teachers more often praise correct answers or “sustain” the interaction if the answer is incorrect—that is, they repeat or rephrase the question, give a clue, and in general try to get the student to continue to work toward a correct response. With pupils of whom they expect little, teachers are more inclined to accept correct answers with minimal praise and criticize incorrect answers. In addition, the teacher is much more likely to limit her [or his] interactions with these students to matters of class organization and discipline. (p. 134)

As observed earlier by Persell, bicultural students who find themselves at the bottom rungs of the social ladder are more likely to be influenced by teacher expectations than those from the upper and middle classes. As a consequence, bicultural students are much more likely to have their achievement negatively affected by negative teacher expectations. Further, various interrelated and cumulative processes intensify this consciously or unconsciously reinforced social structure of dominance that function together to depress the academic achievement of the majority of bicultural students while supporting the educational success of students from the dominant culture.

The Curriculum Although the term has been debated widely over the years, curriculum traditionally refers to the coursework 29

offered or required by an educational institution for the successful completion of a degree or credentialing objective. What constitutes its content is, for the most part, directly related to what form of knowledge and content is recognized as legitimate and necessary by those who dictate curricular decisions. These decisions strongly embody the values, attitudes, and biases inherent in the educational discourse of those who design and ultimately approve curricula (Kincheloe, 2008b). Hence, the underlying principles related to both curriculum content and teaching methodology are derived from what is considered to be the function of education in American society: namely, the perpetuation of values and social relations that produce and legitimate the dominant worldview at the expense of a vast number of its citizens. Unfortunately, this is so despite the lofty rhetoric that purports public schooling as the great equalizing mechanism where all students have the opportunity to excel. Beyond this is also the often-touted notion that the role of schools is to socialize civic-minded, responsible citizens, who will play their role in the wellbeing of the great society. yet, irrespective of these idealized notions of participation and opportunities, the distribution of opportunities, wealth, and power are grossly unequal; and the differences in curricular offerings play a paramount role in ensuring this outcome. This is so, given that the traditional curriculum significantly “favors certain forms of knowledge over others and affirms the dreams, desires, and values of select groups of students over other groups, often discriminately on the basis of race, class, and gender” (McLaren, 1989/1998). This can be better understood by examining the neoconservative movement’s answer to educational reform. Twenty years ago, two major efforts included the call for back-to-basics education and state-mandated teacherproof curriculum. Both solutions emanated from conservation reforms tied to the rhetoric of a Nation at Risk, which called for schools to operate as economic engines (Molnar, 1996). In the last decade, conservative national initiatives supported by No Child Left Behind and more recently Race to the Top policies have successfully intensified the neoliberal stranglehold on the curriculum, begun in the 1980s. This has resulted in not only the overarching use of both high-stakes testing and standardized teaching-to-the-test curriculum, but also the elimination of more liberal constructive approaches to the curriculum that were painstakingly developed in response to educational objectives forged out of civil rights victories. Not surprisingly, conservative reforms generated from these initiatives were strongly steeped in an instrumental language, which defines education as technically objective and value free. Within these approaches, classroom knowledge is viewed as independent of human beings and as independent of both time and place. Curricular content and design reinforces a universalized, absolute, decontextualized, and ahistorical knowledge, which deceptively camouflages its hidden motivations (Giroux, 1983). Along the same vein, Joe Kincheloe (2008a) asserts, “The standardized curriculum we teach in the era of No Child Left Behind is basically a celebration of Western practices and ways of being human” (p. 7). The common utilization of behavioral objectives and, more recently, the standardization of knowledge as a framework for curriculum development and implementation in American schools reflect an overarching desire for certainty and technical control of knowledge and behavior, particularly in the education of disenfranchised racialized populations that have historically been seen as problematic to capitalist accumulation. This is demonstrated clearly in the overemphasis on classroom management procedures, necessity, and efficiency, and on how-to techniques that inform educational approaches essentially geared to meet the logic of market demands. Students are taught in public schools primarily in terms of a set of prescribed techniques that will produce results and methodologies that are at once fragmented, antitheoretical, and skills oriented (Kincheloe, 2008a; Apple, 2004; Molnar, 1996; Aronowitz & Giroux, 1985). It is precisely through this adherence to a positivist educational perspective, with its emphasis on consensus, social conformity, and stability that permits the perpetuation of the hegemonic order, through what Phillip Jackson (1968) first termed the hidden curriculum. For Jackson, the notion of the hidden curriculum sought to explain the manner in which prevailing social values associated with compliance to authority, punctuality, delayed gratification, and the system of punishments and rewards were systematically enacted within classroom life. In Education under Siege, Stanley Aronowitz and Henry Giroux (1985) explain how the hidden curriculum operates within public schools: The dominant school culture functions not only to legitimate the interests and values of dominant groups; it also functions to marginalize and disconfirm knowledge forms and experiences that are extremely important to subordinate and oppressed groups. This can be seen in the way in which school curricula often ignore the histories of women, racial minorities, and the working class. . . . Schools legitimate dominant forms of culture through the hierarchically arranged bodies of knowledge that make up the curriculum as well as the way in which certain forms of linguistic capital and the individual (rather than collective) appropriation of knowledge is rewarded in schools. (pp. 147–148)


Given this understanding of the hidden curriculum, it becomes obvious how curriculum texts, workbooks, manuals, films, and other classroom artifacts utilized in American classrooms are implicated in producing, reinforcing, and perpetuating the dominant culture of privilege and power. Through the consistency of repetitive messages that reinforce mainstream values and beliefs, the hidden curriculum of textbooks defines how students are positioned in the social structure of American society and the appropriate and acceptable social relations associated to class, gender, race, and sexuality within schools and society. This is evidenced by results gathered by content-analysis studies and ongoing discussions of textbooks over the last century (Loewen, 1995; Anyon, 1980, 1979; Apple, 1986; FitzGerald, 1979; Pokewitz, 1978; Elson, 1964, 1959; Pierce, 1926). One such study concluded that social studies books used in public schools are dominated by themes that support values of the dominant culture. These themes include the following: (1) an overvaluing of social harmony, social compromise, and political consensus, with very little said about social struggle or class conflict; (2) an intense nationalism and chauvinism; (3) a near-exclusion of labor history; and (4) a number of myths regarding the nature of political, economic, and social life (Anyon, 1980). Conservative forces have effectively moved during the last three decades to rid schools of curricular materials and textbooks whose content ran against the interests of the dominant culture and class. Michael Apple (2004), in Ideology and Curriculum, points to “stealth campaigns” in which socially and religiously conservative people hide their religious beliefs and run for election to local school boards or state school boards on a platform of fiscal responsibility. Once in power they attempt to purge the curriculum of any elements of socially liberal positions and of any elements that are not biblically based. Their mobilizations have been effective—so effective that, in fact, many state curricula and textbooks have become even more conservative. (p. 176)

Most recently, the Texas State Board of Education, a prime example of the phenomenon that Apple describes, approved sweeping changes to the history curriculum and thus the content of textbooks used in the state’s public schools. Moreover, because Texas is one of the largest buyers of textbooks in the country, these curriculum changes are likely to be forced upon other states’ textbooks, “since larger-selling books are generally cheaper, an attractive feature to cash-strapped school districts” (Colson, 2010). As Texas is the largest consumer of textbooks in the nation, the decision was a major blow to past efforts to democratize what children learn in U.S. schools. This forceful political shift to the right, supported by ten of the fifteen board members, was repeatedly justified by expressed concerns of ultraconservatives that academics involved in textbook production had moved too far to the left. In response, the Texas State Board of Education passed an unprecedented set of curricular decisions: (1) Textbooks are now required to stress the superiority of American capitalism; however, due to concern for the negative connation of the term, it will be replaced by “free enterprise.” (2) The nation is now to be referred to as a Republic rather than a Democracy. (3) References to “separation of church and state,” which correctly express the Founding Fathers’ wishes for the nation to evolve as a secular society, were removed. (4) The Enlightenment writings of Thomas Jefferson as a significant force in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century revolution were replaced with the writings of St. Thomas Aquinas, William Blackstone, and John Calvin—a Swiss Protestant who preached authoritarian and punitive interpretations of Christianity. (5) Significant Black and Latino historical figures, such as Harriet Tubman, Thurgood Marshall, and Cesar Chavez were eliminated. (6) In their place have been inserted Phyllis Schlafly, the Moral Majority, the National Rifle Association, and Joseph McCarthy. (7) References to the Atlantic slave trade have been changed to “triangular trade,” and the “violent philosophy” of the Black Panthers will be studied as part of the civil rights movement. (8) Hip-hop is excluded and country music included as part of American music history. Eric Foner (2010), responding to the curricular changes instituted by the Texas State Board of Education, forecasts the fate of this decision: Judging from the updated social studies curriculum, conservatives want students to come away from a Texas education with a favorable impression of: women who adhere to traditional gender roles, the Confederacy, some parts of the Constitution, capitalism, the military and religion. They do not think students should learn about women who demanded greater equality; other parts of the Constitution; slavery, Reconstruction and the unequal treatment of nonwhites generally; environmentalists; labor unions; federal economic regulation; or foreigners.

The curricular changes by the Texas State Board of Education well illustrate how, through what curriculum excludes as much as by what it includes, students are not only socialized into particular structures of society that benefit those in power, but also find their education subjected to the whim of policy makers who express little concern for the impact of authoritarian educational policies upon their lives. It is disappointing to note 31

that even when curricular content has been altered through liberal attempts at curriculum reform in the past, teachers seldom have been able to move beyond their stereotypical perceptions of students with respect to class and skin color. And although there are those who, in response to Barack Obama’s ascendency to the presidency, now claim that the nation has reached a “post-racial” moment, a variety of statistical and anecdotal sources belie this truth. working-class students from racialized communities continue to fall through the cracks —whether into low-paying jobs, the rolls of unemployment, or prison cells—at alarming rates. This persistent and growing disparity between the academic achievement of Euroamerican children and that of bicultural children, as discussed earlier, has been overwhelmingly associated with a number of traditional educational practices that have worked to perpetuate historical inequalities through the culture of the school. Accordingly, “working-class students were taught how to follow rules, which usually meant learning how not to ask questions or raise issues that challenged teacher assumptions. . . . [whereas] middle-class students were offered more complex treatments of class material, and their personal involvement in the class was endorsed rather than discouraged” (Giroux, 1985, p. 61). Given this critique of traditional American pedagogy and its practices, it is highly evident that a lack of critical inquiry into the values informing traditional perspectives has resulted in school practices that prevent working-class bicultural students from understanding their world—silencing their voices and relegating them to positions of powerlessness in American society. yet, none has been as pernicious as the hidden curriculum linked to culture and power that will be discussed in more detail in the next chapter.


Chapter 2 The Link Between Culture and Power Democracy cannot be achieved without understanding power itself, how it is exerted, and where it lies. Anthony Arblaster, Democracy, 1987

THIS CHAPTER EXAMINES THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN CULTURE AND POWER AS A FIRST crucial step toward developing a foundation for a critical bicultural approach to education in the United States. Through understanding the nature of this relationship in American society, educators can begin to examine the power relations that ultimately result in the subordination of bicultural students. only through examining the link between culture and power can a critical theory of cultural democracy emerge. By incorporating the participation and voices of students of color into the discourse of public schooling, such a theory can sustain conditions that will support their emancipatory needs.


Traditional Definitions of Culture Much of the problem of understanding culture and its relationship to pedagogical theories and practices results from a failure to examine culture beyond those constructs that have been set forth by Western anthropological discourses. Consequently, from this perspective culture has traditionally been defined as being an allembracing neutral category (Giroux, 1983). As such, it spurred a multitude of earlier research (Tyler, 1891; Boas, 1911/1938; Mead, 1937; Whorf, 1956; Kluckhohn & Strodtbeck, 1961; Cole & Scribner, 1974; Witkin & Berry, 1975; Munroe & Munroe, 1975), carried out with the expressed intent of delving into the question of cultural differences. More specifically, these studies have treated cultural values as an inventory of discrete, equally important (neutral) phenomena, or as a complex that includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, laws, customs, and any other capacities and habits acquired by humans as members of society. The cultural data collected by many anthropologists and sociologists may be classified into four commonly utilized categories: (1) cultural values or value orientation, (2) heritage and cultural artifacts, (3) language, and (4) cognitive styles. Within these categories, life stages have been examined; the affective behavior of the group has been studied; sex roles have been defined; and values significant to western culture—such as competitiveness, aggression, achievement, social motivation, and self-orientation—have been compared to those prevailing social values of “the other.” What is readily apparent from the standpoint of any critical analysis of much of the earlier work is the obvious absence of specific reference to the issue of power and its correlation to the manner in which cultural relationships are structured and perpetuated within and among groups. Hence, educators have most often been involved with definitions of culture derived from a scientific rationality that is individualistic, apolitical, ahistorical, instrumental, and based on positivist notions of value-free inquiry and interpretation. At other times, attempts to counter this view have resulted in studies that are clouded by a humanistic relativism that ultimately fails, in the same manner, to question and challenge the issue of power and its role in shaping the cultural reality and worldview that groups hold. Henry Giroux (1988b) speaks to this separation of culture from relations of power in his earlier work. He argues, “Culture in this view becomes the object of sociological inquiry and is analyzed primarily as an artifact that embodies and expresses the traditions and values of diverse groups. There is no attempt in this view to understand culture as the shared and lived principles of life, characteristic of different groups and classes as these emerge within asymmetrical relations of power and fields of struggle” (pp. 97–98).

Power and Truth Given the implicit conservative discourse that underlies the value-free and neutral assumptions characterizing positivist views of the social sciences, it is not surprising that it has perpetuated a fundamental disregard for the social relations of power in its definitions of culture. Michel Foucault (1977) describes this phenomenon as stemming from a “historical problem” arising from the fact that “the west has insisted for so long on seeing power . . . as juridical” (p. 121). In more detail, Foucault (1980) argues that Power must be understood . . . as the multiplicity of force relations immanent in the sphere in which they operate and which constitute their own organization: as the process which, through ceaseless struggle and confrontations, transforms, strengthens, or even reverses them; as the support which these force relations find in one another, thus forming a chain or a system, or on the contrary, the disjunctions and contradictions which isolate them from one another; and lastly, as the strategies in which they take effect, whose general design or institutional crystallization is embodied in the state apparatus, in the formulation of the law, in the various social hegemonies. (p. 92)

As such, Foucault clearly challenges the resulting positivist mechanisms and the juridical schematism so prevalent in Western characterizations of the nature of power, which isolate any discussion of power to limited social spheres and theoretically dichotomizes it into instances related solely to questions of domination or powerlessness. Instead, Foucault (1980) argues, “Power is everywhere; not because it embraces everything, but because it comes from everywhere. . . . power is not an institution, and not a structure; neither is it a certain strength we are endowed with; it is the name that one attributes to a complex strategical situation in a 34

particular society” (p. 93). It is the traditional undialectical position held by the dominant social sciences that has failed to perceive power dialectically as both a negative and positive force, and as a force that works both on and through people (Giroux, 1988a). one of the major benefits that this negation of power has provided for the dominant culture and ruling class has been a great number of covert avenues of control with which to determine what is to constitute truth in a given society. Foucault (1977) sheds light on the issue by defining truth as “the ensemble of rules according to which the true and the false are separated and specific effects of power [are] attached to the true” (p. 132). Within this perspective, truth is perceived in terms of a “regime of truth” where it exists “in a circular relation with systems of power which produce and sustain it, and to effects of power which it induces and which extend it” (p. 133). Hence, in order to understand the relationship between culture and power, we must also comprehend the dynamics that exist between what is considered truth (or knowledge) and power. It is this relationship that must be questioned with respect to its effect on schooling and its control of what constitutes knowledge in American schools. Foucault’s description of the dynamics at work in the relationship between truth and power can prove helpful in an inquiry of this nature: Truth is a thing of this world: it is produced only by virtue of multiple forms of constraint. And it induces regular effects of power. Each society [culture] has its regime of truth, its “general politics” of truth: that is, the types of discourse which it accepts and makes function as true; the mechanisms and instances which enable one to distinguish true and false statements; the means by which each is sanctioned; the techniques and procedures accorded value in the acquisition of truth; the status of those who are charged with saying what counts as true. (Foucault, 1977, p. 131)

In his work, Foucault delineated the manner in which power blocs and ways of knowing work together to shape our understanding of the world, while individuals shape their own identities and are being shaped by the social relations associated with power/knowledge encountered daily. Kincheloe (2008b) explains that in the 1700s, Western societies came to see that it was far more efficient to utilize power to influence individual consciousness in ways that supported the interests of the ruling class, rather than to resort to brutal force in seeking compliance to their regime: Thus, power shaped consciousness in what Foucault called its capillary expression—that point where power connects with the heart and soul of individuals, disciplines their bodies, shapes their attitudes, their language, the ways they learn, and their phenomenological level of existence. In such a disciplined society power wielders would not have to use violence as often, as they could count on the citizen’s individual consciousness to mold their behaviors, their allegiance to the dominant [regimes of truths]. (p. 219)

An implicit but important assumption drawn from Foucault’s work is that, if the process of schooling is to be informed by cultural democracy, then it must recognize that the ability of individuals from different cultural groups to express their cultural truths is clearly related to the power that certain groups are able to wield within the social order. Therefore, any educational theory of cultural democracy must challenge how meanings and values tied to “regimes of truth” are imposed and perpetuated in schools through social mechanisms of economic and political control found in the society at large. This then points to a fundamental redefinition of power. In concerted efforts to unearth the fundamentally political nature of culture, Giroux (1981, 1983, 1985, 1988a, 1988b) has consistently addressed the critical connection between culture and power in his educational theories on ideology, cultural politics, and the hidden curriculum. His notion of culture incorporates the range of relationships exercised among social groups that is generally determined by the nature of social structures and material conditions and mediated, in part, by the power inherent in the dominant culture. There are two important conditions active in this definition: The first centers around the material conditions that arise from asymmetrical relations of power and the principles emerging from different classes and groups who use them to make sense of their location in a given society. The second condition refers to the relations between capital and its dominant classes, on the one hand, and the cultures and experiences of the subordinate classes on the other. In this relationship, capital is constantly working to produce the ideological and cultural conditions essential to maintain itself, or the social relationships needed to produce the rate of profit. (Giroux, 1983, p. 163)

From the standpoint of these two conditions, Giroux (1983) posits a notion of culture that is in concert with Marx’s theory of revolutionary struggle; that is, culture as a dialectical instance of power and conflict that results from the constant struggles over material conditions and social relations within capitalist articulations of everyday life. The meaning and nature of culture, as such, is derived out of the lived experiences of different social groups and the practical activities of ownership, control, and maintenance of institutions within the 35

historical contradictions inherent in the capitalist state. From this perspective, the structures, material practices, and lived relations of a capitalist society are not in themselves a unified culture, but rather a complex combination of dominant and subordinate relations that serve the function of the state. This, more often than not, results in oppressive cultural forces, including schooling, which are “forged, reproduced, and contested under conditions of power and dependency that primarily serve the dominant culture.” (p. 163)

Dominant and Subordinate Cultures A dialectical view of culture and its link to social power is essential to understanding the capitalist logic that supports the various forms of dominant and subordinate power relations that exist in American society. Inherent in this view is the notion that culture does not function in a social vacuum, but rather as a system that is characterized by social stratification and tensions (Freire & Macedo, 1987). Along these lines, Richard Johnson’s (1983) perspective on culture provides an excellent starting point for conceptualizing pedagogical issues related to dominant and subordinate cultures in terms of relations of power, within the context of a capitalist mode of production. In his definition, he incorporates the following three principles: The first is that cultural processes are intimately connected with social relations, especially with class relations and class formations, with sexual divisions, with the racial structuring of social relations, and with age oppression as a form of dependency. The second is that culture involves power and helps to produce asymmetries in the abilities of individuals and social groups to define and realize their needs. And the third . . . is that culture is neither autonomous nor an externally determined field, but a site of social differences and struggles. (p. 11)

Johnson’s definition of culture provides the context for looking at the social dynamics of subordinate cultures and how relations of power and culture directly impact on the lives of students of color. Generally speaking, the dominant culture refers to ideologies, social practices, and structures that affirm the central values, interests, and concerns of those who are in control of the material and symbolic wealth in a capitalist society. The subordinate culture refers to groups who exist in social and material subordination to the dominant culture (McLaren, 1989/1998). It is significant to note that subordinate cultures are maintained in oppressive conditions not only through the dominant culture’s function to legitimate the interests and values of the dominant groups, but also through an ideology that functions to marginalize and invalidate cultural values, heritage, language, knowledge, and lived experiences which fall outside the purview of capitalist domination and exploitation—significant dimensions which constitute essential elements for the survival of subordinate cultures. Keeping this in mind, it is also important to note that subordinate cultures are situated and re-created within life processes of society or capitalist modes of production that are, in fact, inextricably informed by relations of domination, resistance, and affirmation. That is, within the context of dominant-subordinate cultural relations, seldom does domination and subordination exist as an absolute phenomenon; and in concert with Marx and later Freire’s view, the oppressed within a capitalism regime often became complicit in their own dehumanization. Nevertheless, Paula Allman (2007) correctly reminds us, “According to Marx, human beings make themselves, and not just in the biological sense but in every dimension of their ‘being;’ however, thus far in history, this has not been done in a critically conscious manner nor has it taken place in conditions that people have critically chosen” (p. 62). This can only be possible given that manner in which ideology works within society to obscure relations of power, entrap our sensibilities, and colonize our everyday existence (Lefebvre, 1971; Brosio, 1994).


Ideology The work of critical theorists at the Institute of Social Research (Das Institute für Sozialforschung), better known as the Frankfurt School, were concerned precisely with the manner in which ideology, in the context of capitalism, could obstruct the capacities of human beings to act on their own interest. As such, the work of the Frankfurt School reflects some of the earliest concerns about traditional positivist definitions of culture that perceive it as autonomous and unrelated to the political and economic power that structured the life processes of society. Theodor Adorno (1967), a major contributor to the Frankfurt School’s investigation into the question of culture and power as it relates to the notion of ideology, argues: [The conventional view of culture] overlooks what is decisive: the role of ideology in social conflicts. To suppose, if only methodologically, anything like an independent logic of culture is to collaborate in the hypostasis of culture. . . . The substance of culture . . . resides not in culture alone but in relation to something external, to the material life process. Culture as Marx observed of juridical and political systems, cannot be fully understood, either in terms of itself . . . or in term of the so-called universal development of the mind. To ignore this . . . is to make ideology the basic matter and to establish it firmly. (Giroux, 1983, p. 22; emphasis added)

The Frankfurt School has been instrumental in developing an analysis of culture that assigns it a key position in the development of historical experience as much as in daily life. The Frankfurt theorists conclude that the notion of culture in Western society has been redefined by repressive forms of positivist rationality. Hence, culture has been reified, and the cultural realm has been appropriated as a new locus of social control under which the domination of nature and society precede technological progress and economic growth. To describe this phenomenon, Adorno coins the term culture industry in response to the institutionalization of culture as an industrial force that not only produces goods but also legitimates the logic of capital and its institutions through its mechanism of rationalization and standardization of dominant beliefs and values— namely, ideology (Giroux, 1983). Mark Horkheimer (1972), a founder and major theorist of the Frankfurt School, drawing on the negative ideology of Marxism, defines ideology as an individual or set of claims, perspectives, and philosophies that function to mask or conceal the social contradictions in society on behalf of the ruling class. David Held (1980) describes the Frankfurt School’s characterization of ideology as forms of consciousness [that] claim to represent generalizable interests but conceal the particular and sectarian interests of the ruling class; and/or insofar as they maintain that, societal outcomes represent natural ones, when they are the result of particular constellations of human relations; and/or insofar as they glorify the social situation as harmonious when it is, in fact, conflict-ridden. Ideologies are not . . . merely illusions. They are embodied and manifested in social relations [transformed] into impersonal and reified forms . . . express[ing] modes of existence. . . . Ideologies are often also packages of symbols, ideas, and theories through which people experience their relation to each other and the world. . . . Ideologies mystify social relations or adequately reflect distorted social relations. (p. 186)

An example of ideology, then, is present in capitalist social relationships based on class interests that in practice negate individual autonomy, despite ideological adherence to the doctrine of individualism. This can be better understood by looking at Horkheimer’s analysis of capitalist production and exchange, which conditions people to work for themselves. Capitalism’s individualistic ideological underpinnings simultaneously emphasize and deny the individual’s subjectivity. on the one hand, the individual’s subjectivity is emphasized because the individual, freed from the bondages of feudalism, has become free to buy and sell on the open market. The individual’s material success becomes a guideline for judging right and wrong; and consequently, this success also becomes both the sign and reward of individual development. on the other hand, the individual’s subjectivity is denied because she or he is isolated in the context of buying and selling. Exchange processes become the mode in which individuality is organized and claimed. The pursuit of selfinterest is equated with the pursuit of individual material interests. Hence, the liberal defense of individual freedom becomes ideology, for it masks the capitalist’s interests and motivations that inform its genealogy (Held, 1980). This notion of ideology is pedagogically significant in that it most specifically relates to the ideas and practices through which consciousness (whether understood as “true” or “false”) is formed and expressed in society (Davies, 1981). Culture and ideology are then linked through the production of all forms of consciousness, which include ideas, feelings, desires, moral preferences, and subjectivities. In this respect, 37

schools play a major cultural role as sites where ideologies are produced, reproduced, and perpetuated in society. It is this function of schools in the production, interpretation, and effectivity of meaning that must be understood in terms of a dialectical relationship between culture and power, in order to assure that ideology can serve as a tool of investigation, rather than an instrument of domination (Giroux, 1983). With precisely this concern in mind, Allman (2007) reminds us that It is essential to understand that people engaged in uncritical/reproductive praxis will be extremely susceptible to ideological explanations of reality and that even those who are attempting to engage in critical/revolutionary praxis must be constantly vigilant with respect to ideology. To reiterate, ideology is the seemingly coherent expression of real separations, or fragments of reality and real inversions in human experience; therefore because ideological explanations draw upon real people’s experience, those who articulate them have the power to persuade people to accept, or reassign themselves to, the ideological portray of reality. Moreover, since ideology is not only expressed in words but also often embedded in material forms and human practices, in the absence of continuous scrutiny, we are all extremely vulnerable. (p. 65)

Also critical to an understanding of how ideology works on and through individuals is the Frankfurt School’s notion of depth psychology developed by Herbert Marcuse (1955). Influenced by Sigmund Freud’s theories on the unconscious and instinct, Marcuse conceives of ideology as existing in the depth of the individual’s psychological structure of needs, common sense, and critical consciousness. Thus, instead of limiting his notion of ideology only to external social processes, Marcuse dialectically defines it as forms of historically rooted domination that exist both in the socioeconomic structure of society as well as in the sedimented history or psychological structures of the individual. In this manner, he seeks to explain “that the struggle against freedom reproduce[s] . . . in the psyche of man [and woman] as the self-repression of the repressed individual, and his [or her] self-repression in turn sustains his [or her] masters and their institutions” (Marcuse, 1955, p. 16). This view of ideology assists educators in understanding the function of ideology and the process of cultural hegemony that results via schooling theories and practices encased in a myriad of social contradictions and unresolved conflicts within capitalism, as enacted today with the privatizing forces of neoliberalism.


Hegemony Antonio Gramsci (1971) was one of the first to argue that educators need to understand how the dominant culture structures ideology and produces social practices in schools, for the purpose of shattering the mystification of the existing power relationships and the social arrangements that sustain domination. Gramsci’s theory of cultural hegemony is based on the notion that the supremacy of a social group manifests itself in two ways: as domination and as intellectual and moral leadership. Through his inquiry into the nature of hegemony, Gramsci’s intent is to unravel entanglements among the forces of political power, cultural ideology, and pedagogy that result in the domination of subordinated groups. Giroux elaborates further on Gramsci’s theory of hegemony: Hegemony refers to a form of ideological control in which dominant beliefs, values, and social practices are produced and distributed throughout a whole range of institutions such as schools, the family, mass media, and trade unions. . . . The complexity of hegemonic control is an important point to stress, for it refers not only to those isolatable meanings and ideas that the dominant [culture] imposes on others, but also to those lived experiences that make up the texture and rhythm of daily life. (Giroux, 1981, p. 94)

The theory of hegemony has emerged from a concern with the changing forms of capitalist domination that evolved in advanced industrial societies. With the rise of modern science and technology, social control has been exercised less through the use of physical deterrents and increasingly through the distribution of an elaborate system of norms and imperatives. Gramsci notes that—unlike fascist regimes, which control primarily through physically coercive forces and arbitrary rules and regulations—capitalist societies utilize forms of hegemonic control that function systematically by winning the consent of the subordinated to the authority of the dominant culture (Gramsci, 1971). At the heart of hegemonic control is political power—a power derived from control of social structures and natural configurations that embody routines and practices inherent in different social relationships resulting from both the content and the manner in which knowledge is structured and produced in society. It represents a power that is maintained through selective silences and is manifested in the fragmentation of social definitions, management of information, and the subsequent shaping of popular attention, consent, belief, and trust (Forester, 1987). Peter McLaren (1988) describes this hegemonic force as a cultural encasement of meaning, a prison house of language and ideas, that is freely entered in both by dominators and dominated. . . . The dominant culture is able to manufacture dreams and desires for both dominant and subordinate groups by supplying terms of reference (i.e., images, visions, stories, ideals) against which all individuals are expected to live their lives [and] in which the values of the dominant [culture] appear so correct that to reject them would be unnatural, a violation of common sense. (p. 174)

Hegemony in American schools results, more specifically, from institutionalized social relations of power that are systematically asymmetrical, and therefore unequally privilege students from the dominant culture and class over workingclass students from subordinate cultures. This institutional hegemonic process is most often achieved through four different modes of domination: legitimation, dissimulation, fragmentation, and reification (McLaren, 1988). Legitimation constitutes a form of domination that is perpetuated through its presentation of a particular set of power relations as legitimate and eminently just and fair. This mode of hegemonic control is clearly reflected in the manner in which educational institutions justify a system of meritocracy in American schools. Dissimulation describes instances where subordinate group domination is concealed, denied, or obscured. An example of dissimulation is found in school practices related to student tracking and ability grouping. Fragmentation is achieved through relations of domination that are maintained primarily through the production of meaning that fragments groups and places them in opposition to one another. Fragmentation is readily apparent in faculty interpretations of student affirmative action and its negative impact on admission criteria. Reification results when transitory historical states of affairs are presented as permanent, natural, and commonsensical, as if they were frozen or fixed in the passage of time. The neoconservative movement’s call for a return to the “Great Books” and, more recently, the standardization of knowledge are examples of this mode of domination. Many forms of domination are readily visible in American schools, but none is more effective than those woven tightly into the fabric of classroom curriculum, as discussed earlier. Giroux (1983), who has written extensively on the hidden curriculum, identifies several ways in which hegemony is actualized through school 39

curriculum, including the following: (1) the selection of cultural values and materials deemed socially legitimate; (2) the categories utilized for classifying certain cultural content and forms as superior and inferior; (3) the selection and legitimation of school and classroom relationships; and (4) the distribution of and access to different types of culture and knowledge by different social classes. Through these common curricular practices, schools secure teacher participation in a variety of forms of cultural invasion and the subsequent subordination of working-class racialized students.


Cultural Invasion Throughout American institutions, the dominant culture utilizes forms of cultural hegemony to exert domination and control over working-class racialized populations and, by so doing, perpetuates a condition that Freire (1970b) calls cultural invasion. Cultural invasion speaks to antidialogical processes that serve to sustain social, political, and economic oppression of subordinate groups. Freire (1970b) describes cultural invasion as a process by which the invaders penetrate the cultural context of another group, in disrespect of the latter’s potentialities; they impose their own view of the world upon those they invade and inhibit the creativity of the invaded by curbing their expression. . . . The invaders act; those they invade have only the illusion of acting through the action of the invaders. . . . All domination involves invasion . . . a form of economic and cultural domination. (p. 150)

Sandy Grande (2004), in Red Pedagogy, systematically outlines the manner in which cultural values of the dominant culture, anchored in modernism, not only invade but also impose conflicting notions of life upon subordinate populations. In so doing, she posits those embedded “structures of colonialist consciousness” at work in conservative and liberal notions of U.S. education. These include (1) a belief in progress as change and change as progress; (2) belief in the effective separateness of faith and reason; (3) belief in the essential quality of the universe and of “reality” as impersonal, secular, material, mechanistic, and relativist; (4) subscription to ontological individualism; and (5) belief in human beings as separate from and superior to the rest of nature (p. 69). Grande (2004) builds on the work of both Dreeben (1968) and Smith (1992) to link the modernist ideology of colonialist consciousness to processes of schooling. Here she describes values of education that, consciously or unconsciously, culturally invade worldviews and communities’ sensibilities of indigenous populations. 1. Independence: Children are expected to be self-reliant, to complete school tasks on their own, and accept responsibility for their behavior. The value of independence is so highly regarded that students themselves become suspicious of cooperative efforts as potential impediments to their own academic achievement and personal success. Similarly, relationships in school are largely characterized by formality and impersonality. Teachers retain caring but detached relations with students and actively discourage personal interactions. “Appropriate,” on-task behavior is measured by the degree to which students behave as if they were in solitude, even though they are not. A good student acts as if he or she is “alone in a crowd.” 2. Achievement: Students are encouraged to make an impact on their environment. Success and individual worth are measured by abstract and impersonal standards of excellence whereby students are aware of being in direct competition with each other. The impersonality of evaluation encourages the development of instrumental attitudes toward achievement and work; the process is perceived as a means for achieving greater ends. 3. Humanism: Students are expected to accept the tenets of secular humanism as essential truth—they are encouraged to believe that they are the masters of their own destinies and that through technology and scientific inquiry nature’s unknown can become knowable. Implicit in these assumptions is the rejection of religion and spirituality as being purely ideological (if not irrelevant) and distortional to the objective understanding of the world. 4. Detachment from sources of local and personal knowledge: The knowledge conveyed in school is usually the knowledge of those who accepted and benefited from the tenets of the modern worldview. The experiential knowledge that children bring to school is not perceived as sufficient or as a valid foundation of real universal knowledge. 5. Detachment from nature: The world is studied at a distance; contact with the earth, animals, and plants is severely limited. Students discover through inference that real learning occurs indoors and is composed of knowledge bases separate from life and the natural world. when it does occur, environmental education usually does so within the realms and confines of the established curriculum and with little impact on the underlying goals of American education (pp. 70–71).


Given the colonizing impact of schooling processes shaped by the forces of cultural invasion, any attempt to create effectively a critical foundation for bicultural education must also challenge those ideologies and practices of hegemony that result in further domination of students based on the color of their skin and the language they speak. Hence, understanding how the dominant culture perpetuates language domination and racism and its debilitating impact on the intellectual formation of students from racialized communities must be examined if educators are effectively to create a context for cultural democracy in the classrooms.

Language Domination Language domination is sustained via a twofold process. First, the language that many bicultural students bring to the classroom is systematically silenced and stripped away, through values and beliefs that render it inferior to Standard English. Second, the traditional literacy process in American schools perpetuates subordinate social relations through an instrumental approach that functions to discourage the development of critical literacy among working-class bicultural students (Diaz-Soto & Haroon, 2010; Nieto, 2002/2010; CadieroKaplan, 2004). Accordingly, many bicultural students are forced to contend with institutional negation and disrespect of their native language. In many schools, bicultural students are not only discouraged but actively prevented from speaking their native languages (e.g., Spanish, Chinese, Ebonics1, Arabic, etc.). Educators justify these practices with concerns that the children’s native language will interfere with the student’s intellectual and emotional development (Diaz-Soto & Haroon, 2010; Grande, 2004; Ramirez & Castañeda, 1974). Even where bilingual programs exist, these values and beliefs are reflected strongly in school policies that encourage the rapid mainstreaming of bicultural students into English-only environments or only provide English as a Second Language (ESL) instruction to students who are limited English speakers (Darder & Uriate, 2011; CadieroKaplan, 2004). Paulo Freire and Donald Macedo (1987) point to the asymmetrical power relations reflected in these attitudes: [The] English [only] movement in the United States . . . points to a xenophobic culture that blindly negates the pluralistic nature of U.S. society and falsifies the empirical evidence in support of bilingual education, as has been amply documented. These educators . . . fail to understand that it is through multiple discourses that students generate meaning in their everyday social context. (p. 154)

The hegemonic forces of class oppression and cultural invasion strongly converge in the dynamics of language domination. The set of values and power relations that inform the current neoconservative perspective on bilingualism are very similar to those of other Western European colonizers2 who have insisted that colonized children be taught in the European language and who, by way of this process, have attempted to strip away systematically the cultural integrity and independence of the native people they wish to control and dominate (Darder & Torres, 2004). It is critical that educators recognize the role language plays as one of the most powerful transmitters of culture and, as such, its central role to both intellectual formation and the survival of subordinate cultural populations. Within a student’s primary language is contained the codification of lived experiences that provide the avenues for students to express their own realities and to question the wider social order. Similarly, the primary language holds huge significance with respect to learning and brain development (Lipina & Colombo, 2009) and to children’s formation of self-confidence and sense of intimacy and security within his or her own cultural community—both hugely significant to the academic formation of bicultural children. Gramsci, in his writings on cultural hegemony, identified the hidden forces that underlie the seriousness of this process: “Each time that, in one way or another, the question of language comes to the fore, that signifies that a series of other problems is about to emerge, the formation and enlarging of the ruling class, the necessity to establish more intimate and sure relations between the ruling groups and the national popular masses, that is, the reorganization of cultural hegemony” (Freire & Macedo, 1987, 150). Hence, negating the native language and its potential benefits in the development of the students’ participation and voice constitutes a form of psychological violence and functions to perpetuate social control over subordinate language groups through various linguistic forms of cultural invasion. Nowhere is there a more poignant example than the history of Native American children, who have been forced to leave their families and their cultural community on the reservation to attend government schools. This forceful 42

imposition of the colonizers’ language and culture upon indigenous children has left a tragic legacy of suffering and alienation and the consequences of these on the lives of many tribal communities (Trafzer, Keller, & Sisquoc, 2006). Language domination silences student voices and seriously curtails their active participation in school life. With few opportunities to enter into dialogue, to build on their pre-existing home knowledge, or to reflect on their lived experiences, many working-class bicultural students are left marginalized in their classrooms. The profound isolation and alienation, true to Marx’s prediction, leaves them estranged from others, the world, and even themselves (Darder, 2011). School practices associated with this form of hegemony ultimately hinder students’ critical capacities and prevent the development of the understanding necessary to struggle effectively toward their empowerment and liberation.

Racism Racism represents one of the most virulent forms of human oppression that exists in American society and yet, it seems one of the most difficult for most individuals of the dominant culture to comprehend. often the difficulty arises in the faulty perceptions and assumptions that persist in the deeply hegemonic consciousness of most Euroamericans. In addition to strong ethnocentric values, much of the difficulty is related to a pervasive and commonsensical ideology of race coupled with a modernist worldview that effectively truncates the ability of most Euroamericans to move from an individual perception of bias and prejudice to an understanding of racism as a structural phenomenon associated with institutional power and control. This is particularly so when questions of inequalities are simultaneously tied to class oppression. yet, the ability to comprehend racism as an institutional phenomenon is essential to the struggle against racism and other forms of inequalities and social exclusions in United States and throughout the world (McCarthy et al., 2005a). Ethnocentrism is defined as a notion that one’s race, nation, and culture are superior to all others (Parker, Deyhle, & Villenas, 1999; Knowles & Prewitt, 1969). It is most often manifested by the establishment of standards of behavior by which everything is judged and compared. These standards are based on the implicit assumptions of the dominant culture that retains power within a multicultural society (Parker, Deyhle, & Villenas, 1999; Phillips, 1979). Ethnocentrism is particularly prevalent in the color-blind and melting-pot views that continue to exist in American schools today, despite the election of the nation’s first African American president. The underpinnings of white superiority at work here function to silence the voices of bicultural students by ignoring their daily lived experiences of racialized oppression. Hence, unexamined racialized assumptions work to support an assimilative bias held by many teachers—teachers who often fail to perceive the racism inherent in their tendencies to judge and compare the success of poor and working-class bicultural students against that of students from the dominant culture. Moreover, many of these teachers are genuinely unaware of those coercive expectations and everyday practices which loudly signal to racialized students that in order to “succeed,” they must accept dominant cultural values as their own. Well-meaning Euroamerican teachers often, similarly, express that they believe “all people are the same,” without acknowledging either the major cultural differences or the asymmetrical relations of power at work within their classrooms. The most damaging consequence, of course, is that in the process teachers fail to see that bicultural students already possess cultural values and community knowledge that are essential not only to their learning but also to their very survival—given their community histories of struggle in the face of gross inequalities and social exclusions. It is worth noting that the notion of a universal ranking of human beings in a hierarchical order is well integrated within perspectives that support an ethnocentric view of the world (McCarthy et al., 2005a; Parker, Deyhle, & Villenas, 1999; Hodge et al., 1976). Social Darwinism represents an excellent example of an ideology that sustains cultural racism in the social sciences. Social scientists extend evolutionary notions of a single developmental pattern and the survival of the fittest into the realm of human development. These Eurocentric psychosocial theories of human development are then transplanted into the classroom; there, they both negatively and deceptively influence the perceptions of teachers toward students from subordinate cultures; their efforts to emphasize the universality of human development ignore the particularities of difference that exist in the world. Further, Robert Blauner (1972) argues that teachers who defend the dominant culture often depict or 43

interpret a cultural reality that is not their own in an inauthentic manner. As such, they are very likely to miss the essence, nuances, and inner complexities that are inherent to living in a bicultural world, and thus they invalidate the lived experiences of students of color. This is particularly the case with monocultural teachers who are limited, for the most part, to a very mainstream and dominant cultural view of the world. Hence, they often reject the definitions and meanings that bicultural students have of their lives and their communities and, as a consequence, violate students’ self-determination and trust in their own capacity to read their world. The inability of the dominant culture to accept the reality of people of color as legitimate is intensified by the repressed contradictions that have existed since the advent of American society. This dynamic is well documented through historical fact, which clearly reveals that, in spite of espoused principles of justice, liberty, and equality for all, subordinate cultures have suffered from blatant discrimination in this country and around the globe (Torres, 2009; McCarthy et al., 2005a; Parker, Deyhle, & Villenas, 1999). Blacks share a history of slavery; Puerto Ricans, Mexicans, and Filipinos share a history of colonization; Native American Indians share a history of near extinction; Chinese share a history of exploitation for cheap labor; and Japanese share a history of retention camps. Despite the critical roles that these events have played in the historical and social development of each group, all have been, for the most part, marginalized or whitewashed in traditional social studies curricula and textbooks used in American schools. And despite over forty years of efforts to infuse a multicultural perspective into the curriculum and textbooks, the recent actions of the Texas State School Board (discussed earlier) seem to signal a hard conservative and whitening shift to the Right. The distinction between individual racism and institutional racism can best be understood with respect to the collective power than can be utilized to oppress the social, political, and economic evolution of racialized populations. Kwame Ture3 and Charles Hamilton (1992), discussing racism in the Black community, give the following definition in an effort to clarify the difference: Racism is both overt and covert. It takes two, closely related forms: individual whites acting against blacks, and acts by the total white community against the black community. We call these individual racism and institutional racism. The first consists of overt acts by individuals, which cause death, injury, or violent destruction of property. This type can be recorded by television cameras; it can frequently be observed in the process of commission. The second type is less overt, far more subtle, less identifiable in terms of specific individuals committing the acts. But it is no less destructive of human life. The second type originates in the operation of established and respected forces in society and thus receives far less public condemnation than the first. (p. 4)

Some concrete examples may help to shed light on this distinction. when a teacher consistently harasses bicultural students because they do not speak proper English, this is an act of individual racism. But when a community of parents complains to the principal or school board and no action is taken by the school district to halt the teacher’s actions, then it becomes a form of institutional racism. when a social studies teacher glosses over the impact of slavery on the lives of African Americans and presents the story of slaves in the South as one of benevolence, this is an act of individual racism. That this teacher is knowingly permitted by school administrators to perpetuate this racist discourse on students is an act of institutional racism. That a white police officer overreacts and shoots to death an unarmed African American youth is an act of individual racism. That 99 percent of police officers who have shot unarmed African American youth have never been charged with a criminal offense is an act of institutional racism. what is most significant here is that both forms of racism result from deeprooted prejudices and stereotypes. But institutional racism is a form of racial discrimination that is woven into the fabric of the power relations, social arrangements, and practices through which collective actions result in the use of racialized criterion to determine who is rewarded in society (Knowles & Prewitt, 1969). Institutional racism can only result when it is backed by the dominant culture’s institutional power and authority to oppress. In this manner, the dynamics of institutional racism are similar to sexism,4 homophobia,5 and ableism,6 in that it is institutional power that sustains the control and regulation of women, queer, and disabled populations in the United States, within the inequality of capitalist relations. Institutional forms of stereotyping constitute some of the most pervasive manifestations of racist thinking. Stereotypes of subordinate groups reflect the deep-rooted prejudices of the dominant culture that work to justify and sustain political, social, and economic inequity. often the persistence and development of stereotypes and stereotypical caricatures can be seen historically as a cultural barometer of the racial climate, revealing quite poignantly their service to the ruling class.7 Most recently, we have seen the manner in which racialized stereotypes and gross stereotypical caricatures have been deployed by members of the Tea Party at their public rallies.8 These racial stereotypes and depictions fuel misconceptions of subordinate cultures as 44

inferior, stupid, undeserving, and violent—portrayals that imprison bicultural students and their communities into hardened images that influence the manner in which they are treated in schools and in society at large. As has been discussed earlier, racial stereotypes and other racist notions have often been reflected in traditional social science and educational theory,9 as well as in other forms of institutionalized social attitudes and behaviors. what is even more disturbing is the insidious manner in which this form of cultural invasion has been perpetuated among the oppressed themselves. So often it has resulted in a process that has systematically conditioned bicultural students to identify with the assumed superiority of the dominant culture to the extent that they participate in their own oppression via an internalized inferior view of their own culture. Freire (1970), following the precepts of Marx, describes this dynamic in the following manner: For cultural invasion to succeed, it is essential that those invaded become convinced of their intrinsic inferiority. . . . The more invasion is accentuated and those invaded are alienated from the spirit of their own culture and from themselves, the more the latter want to be like the invaders: to walk like them, dress like them, talk like them. (p. 161)

However, it is essential for educators to recognize that, in fact—despite the extensive power of the dominant culture of the capitalist state—seldom can forms of hegemonic power gain complete control over subordinate groups. This can best be explained through Gramsci’s (1971) notion of contradictory consciousness. Gramsci argues that human beings view the world from a perspective that contains both hegemonic forms of thinking as well as critical insight. Thus, contradictory consciousness represents a form of common sense that is rooted in long-standing cultural notions but at the same time enriched with scientific ideas and philosophical opinions that enter into ordinary daily life. From this perspective, the consciousness of subordinate cultures cannot be equated with simple passivity and one-dimensional characteristics. Instead, this consciousness has to be recognized as a complex arrangement of ideas and practices that, to one degree or another, is active in the world. Hence, it can be said with little doubt that there is an ever-present consciousness of resistance that engages, consciously or unconsciously, in an ongoing struggle with the external social forces of domination and the internal human forces that seek humanization.


Resistance whether hegemony is enacted in schools, the mass media, or other social institutions, it must constantly be fought for to be maintained. It is not something that simply consists of the projection of the ideas of the dominant classes into the heads of the subordinate classes. The footing on which hegemony moves and functions has to shift ground constantly in order to accommodate the changing nature of historical circumstances and the complex demands, critical actions, and relations of human beings (Aronowitz & Giroux, 1985). This is most apparent when oppositional ideologies of subordinate cultures attempt to resist and challenge the dominant ideologies in an effort to break through the existing relations of power. often the dominant culture is able to manipulate alternative and oppositional ideologies in a manner that more readily secures its hegemony. In the golden era of multiculturalism, celebrations of Cinco de Mayo and Martin Luther King’s birthday served as prime examples of how these initially radical concepts—intended to resist and push back cultural invasion—have been appropriated in such a fashion that they now do little to challenge the real basis of power of the dominant culture. Yet, despite this hegemonic control, members of subordinate cultures continue to resist in an effort to struggle for power and control over their own lives. Giroux (1988b) elaborates on the nature of resistance: Resistance has been defined as a personal space, in which the logic and force of domination is contested by the power of subjective agency to subvert the process of socialization. Seen this way, resistance functions as a type of negation or affirmation placed before ruling discourses and practices. of course, resistance often lacks an overt political project and frequently reflects social practices that are informal, disorganized, apolitical, and atheoretical in nature. In some instances it can reduce itself to an unreflective and defeatist refusal to acquiesce to different forms of domination, or even naive rejection of oppressive forms of moral and political regulation. (p. 162)

As the preceding quote suggests, resistance manifests itself in a multitude of ways. Two major categories particularly significant to the classroom are linked to the way that many working-class bicultural students may respond toward teachers, even when there is an attempt to create the conditions for cultural democracy in the classroom. In the first instance, bicultural students participate in oppositional behaviors that are centrally linked to the act of resisting the dominant ideological patterns of knowledge and relationships of power that are in direct conflict and contradiction with their lived experiences. In the second, resistance points to an act directed toward resisting any challenge to the dominant culture that would require the student to engage critically in a redefinition of the self. Here, the student of color struggles to hold onto the dominant culture’s view of the world. It is important to note that, due to the contradictory nature of hegemonic control, most bicultural students exhibit these and many other forms of resistance at any given moment. In fact, Allman (2007), drawing on Marx’s theory of “consciousness/praxis, his negative concept of ideology, and his concept of internally related dialectical contradictions” to make sense of possible refusals by oppressed students to embrace emancipatory practice, states: when we invite others to engage in critical/revolutionary praxis, it is crucial to remember how deeply various elements of the dominant ideology will be entrenched in all of the members of the group. This means that initially they may refuse the invitation but also that even when they accept, various members of the group, at various times, will find it extremely difficult and also threatening to rid themselves of all the sediment. Marx called it “muck” that impedes their humanization. (pp. 65–66)

However, when the process of humanization is at work and oppressed students utilize resistance to make significant breakthroughs in their lives and employ their resistance as a means of empowerment, such moments become for McLaren (1989/1998) a celebration of pleasure and a struggle against oppression in the lived historicity of the moment: “To resist means to fight against the monitoring of passion and desire. . . . Resistance is a rejection of the reformulation as docile objects where spontaneity is replaced by efficiency, in compliance with the needs of the corporate marketplace” (p. 188). Many forms of resistance by oppressed populations have also been historically played out on the cultural terrain that encompasses language. often the refusal to be literate has constituted an act of resistance rather than an act of ignorance, in that oppressed groups may have refused—consciously or unconsciously—to learn the specific cultural codes and competencies of the dominant culture, as a protective mechanism. Freire and Macedo (1987) point to the fact that language can shed light on the manner in which subordinate cultures have 46

resisted forms of cultural invasion and, by so doing, can provide a glimpse into the long journey by which oppressed populations have survived. This chapter has examined the relationship between culture and power as a fundamental step toward the development of a critical bicultural pedagogy of education. This discussion has begun to deconstruct those social relations of power that frame the traditional cultural discourses, to analyze the forms and nature of domination experienced by subordinate cultures, and also to search out those ideas that can best shed some light on the impact of asymmetrical power relations on the education of students from subordinate cultures in U.S. society. Without a clear understanding of the effects these forces have on the hidden curriculum of schooling and the lives of bicultural students, it would be impossible to move effectively toward a critical theory of cultural democracy.


Chapter 3 A Critical Theory of Cultural Democracy Education has to be linked to forms of self and social empowerment if the school is to become . . . a force in the ongoing struggle for democracy as a way of life. Henry Giroux, Schooling and the Struggle for Public Life, 1988

IN EXAMINING THE LINK BETWEEN CULTURE AND POWER, IT BECOMES QUITE EVIDENT that in order to move toward a genuinely liberatory form of education, there must exist in theory and practice an emancipatory political construct upon which to build a critical bicultural pedagogy. This is particularly true given the asymmetrical power relations in American society and the disproportionate number of injustices suffered by students of color in the public schools. Significant to this discussion is the notion of student voice and empowerment and the conditions required for bicultural students to develop their bicultural voice and to actually experience a process of empowerment in the classroom. In more specific terms, there must exist a democratic environment where the lived cultures of working-class bicultural students are critically integrated into the pedagogical process. Keeping these principles in mind, a critical theory of cultural democracy emerges as part of a language of possibility and hope. In the same spirit of human equality and social justice that is so clearly found in John Dewey’s (1916) writings on democratic schooling and in the work of Henry Giroux (1988b) on critical democracy, a critical theory of cultural democracy seeks to function as an educational construct that can transform the nature of classroom life. Above all, it represents a concerted effort to awaken the bicultural voice of students of color and cultivate their critical participation as active social agents in the world. This is particularly essential in light of the many social forces of domination at work in the lives of bicultural students. A philosophy of cultural democracy was first defined by Mexican American educators Manuel Ramirez and Alfredo Castañeda (1974). Their notion is based primarily on the principle that every individual has the right to maintain a bicultural identity. Because the critical theory of cultural democracy to be developed in this chapter is an effort to expand on some of the ideas formulated in the original theory, the meaning of biculturalism and its implications for establishing a culturally democratic environment must first be considered as a necessary part of a culturally emancipatory discourse.


Biculturalism Biculturalism speaks to the process wherein individuals learn to function in two distinct sociocultural environments: their primary culture, and that of the dominant mainstream culture of the society in which they live. It represents the process by which bicultural human beings mediate between the dominant discourse of educational institutions and the realities that they must face as members of subordinate cultures. More specifically, the process of biculturation incorporates the different ways in which bicultural human beings respond to cultural conflicts and the daily struggle with racism and other forms of cultural invasion. It is essential that educators recognize that just as racism constitutes a concrete form of domination directly experienced by people of color, biculturalism specifically addresses the different strategies of survival adopted by people of color in response to the dynamics of living in constant tension between conflicting cultural values and conditions of cultural subordination. Although the responses may bear a similarity to those that result from conditions of class oppression, an analysis of biculturalism cannot be reduced simply to class conflict. The “attack on culture is more than a matter of economic factors. . . . It differs from the class situation of capitalism precisely in the importance of culture as an instrument of domination” (Blauner, 1972, p. 67). Thus, to consider the lived experiences of bicultural populations as only dictated by forces related to the economy is to fall into a reductionistic theoretical trap that trivializes and distorts the struggles for equality of people of color in the United States. It is worth noting here that studies grounded in traditional psychological or anthropological paradigms tend to theorize biculturalism in ways that render individualistic and relativist readings of this phenomenon. Whereas bicultural scholars who contend more directly with the political and economic ramifications of subordinate-dominant relations tend to be far more clear about the manner in which questions of culture and power impact the process of response patterns, particularly in individuals who are forced to negotiate two cultures from a very young age, from necessity rather than choice. This is an important distinction in that there are some that would claim that if you are bilingual, you are also bicultural. This, in fact, is not the case. To learn a second language from a privileged mainstream or affluent position in society results in a very different experience from that of being a working-class child from a racialized community, who must not only contend with learning a second language but also with the negative messages about the primary culture and language that abound in assimilative classroom environments. Needless to say, the work here seeks to arrive at not only an individual understanding of biculturalism but also a communal concept of biculturalism that will help to inform a critical theory of cultural democracy. In examining the notion of biculturalism, it is significant that, since the early 1900s, writers, educators, and social theorists of color have made references in their work to the presence of some form of dual or separate socialization process among their own people. These references have included a variety of terms used to describe the personality development, identity, or traits of nonwhites socialized in a racist society: double consciousness (DuBois, 1903), double vision (Wright, 1953), bicultural (Valentine, 1971; deAnda, 1984; Ramirez & Castañeda, 1974; Red Horse et al., 1981; Solis, 1980; Rashid, 1981), diunital (Dixon & Foster, 1971), multidimensional (Cross, 1978), and other references that closely resemble notions of duality and “twoness” (Memmi, 1965; Fanon, 1967; Kitano, 1969; Hsu, 1971; Sue & Sue, 1978). In the last twenty years, another generation of bicultural scholars in education, sociology, and psychology has continued to engage this phenomenon (Smokowski & Bacallao, 2011; Diaz-Soto & Haroon, 2009; Doerr, 2009; Dennis, 2008; Cronin, 2008; Hepi, 2008; Lomawaima & McCarty, 2006; Olivos, 2006; Trumbull & Pacheco, 2005; Sheets, 2005; Vargas-Reighley, 2005; Kanno, 2003; Cronin & Massó, 2003; Chapman, 2002; Trueba, 2002; Gutiérrez, Baquedano-López, & Tejeda,1999; Rodriguez, 1999; Sheets & Hollins, 1999; Suárez-Orozco, 1998; LaFramboise, Coleman, & Gerton, 1993; Tatum, 1992; Chau, 1991). Many of the very same issues raised by earlier scholars (and in this book twenty years ago) are also found in newer works on biculturalism, including questions of identity development, anxieties and consequences of negotiating across dominant–subordinate cultural milieus; contending with conflicting values across cultures; language differences and community struggles for bilingualism; as well as common institutional issues of subordination and marginalization associated with racialization and class formations within bicultural communities. 49

That said, studies of Black, Latino, Asian, and Native American populations clearly indicate that a bicultural phenomenon is present in the development of members from subordinate cultures. They also support the notion of biculturalism as both a social process and psychological mechanism of survival that constitutes forms of individual and collective adaptive alternatives in the face of hegemonic control and institutional oppression. Furthermore, these alternatives must be also understood as forms of resistance, as discussed earlier, that may— or may not—function in the emancipatory interest of the individuals who utilize them in their lives. In order to better understand the role of biculturalism in relation to a critical theory of cultural democracy, it is helpful to examine some of the early studies more closely. Charles Valentine (1971) was one of the first social theorists to consider the concept of a bicultural model of human development, based on his work with Black children. His work represents an early attempt to expand on the cultural difference model and to challenge and displace the cultural deprivation model, which has failed to portray with accuracy the socialization process of children of color in the United States. Valentine suggests that bicultural groups undergo a dual socialization process that consists primarily of enculturation experiences within one’s culture of origin (subordinate culture), in addition to less comprehensive but significant exposure to the socialization forces within the dominant culture. In reference to this notion of development, he writes, The idea of biculturation helps explain how people learn and practice both mainstream culture and ethnic culture at the same time. Much intra-group socialization is conditioned by ethnically distinct experience, ranging from linguistic and other expressive patterns through exclusive associations like social clubs and recreational establishments to the relatively few commercial products and mass media productions designed for ethnic markets. Yet at the same time, members of all [subordinate cultures] are thoroughly enculturated in dominant culture patterns by mainstream institutions, including most of the contents of the mass media, most products and advertising for mass marketing, the entire experience of public schooling, constant exposure to national fashion, holidays, and heroes. (p. 143)

Diane deAnda’s (1984) efforts to examine the bicultural process and to explain the differences found among bicultural individuals led her to suggest six factors that she argues have an influence on the level of biculturalism in the individual. These factors include the following: 1. The degree of overlap or commonality between the two cultures with regard to norms, values, beliefs, perceptions, and the like; 2. The availability of cultural translators, mediators, and models; 3. The amount and type (positive and negative) of corrective feedback provided by each culture regarding attempts to produce normative behaviors; 4. The conceptual style and problem-solving approach of the bicultural individual and their mesh with the prevalent or valued styles of the majority culture; 5. The individual’s degree of bilingualism; and 6. The degree of dissimilarity in physical appearance from the majority culture, such as skin color, facial features, and so forth. The major conceptual difference between Valentine’s and deAnda’s models of biculturalism lies in the manner in which the individual is considered to interrelate with the two distinct cultures. Whereas Valentine’s model of biculturalism perceives the process as resulting from the bicultural individual stepping in and out of two separate and distinct cultures, deAnda’s argues that the bicultural experience is possible only because an overlap exists between the two cultures. The more overlap there is between the two cultures, the more effective the bicultural process of dual socialization. This difference that de Anda posits may help to explain why immigrants with more affluent backgrounds and whose worldview is more in sync with the dominant worldview—heavily influenced by a mix of Anglo-Saxon roots, modernism, and capitalism—might more readily integrate into mainstream American life. The bicultural world of Mexican American children is described by Ramirez and Castañeda (1974) as encompassing the realities that Mexican American children must learn in order to function effectively in the mainstream of the American cultural community, and to continue to function effectively in and contribute to the Mexican American cultural community. They characterize this phenomenon as follows: If a Mexican-American child has been raised during his [or her] preschool years in the sociocultural system characteristic of the traditional Mexican-American community, the socialization practices pertaining to (1) language and heritage, (2) cultural values, and (3) teaching [and cognitive] styles will be unique to that system, and the child will have developed a communication, learning, and motivational style which is appropriate to it. At the same time the child begins his experience in the public schools he is required to relate to a sociocultural system whose socialization practices pertaining to language and heritage, cultural values, and teaching [and cognitive] styles are different from those


experienced during his preschool years. In effect, it is a new cultural world which he must come to explore and understand. At the same time, he must continue to explore, understand, and learn to function in the heretofore familiar sociocultural system . . . represented in his home and community. These demands placed on many Mexican-American children in one sense constitute the reality of a bicultural world. (p. 29)

In addition, Ramirez and Castañeda posit a summary of characteristics for what they term traditional, dualistic, and atraditional communities. The schematic presentation for their framework incorporates the categories of general community characteristics; the degree of identification with the family, community, and ethnic group; the definitions of status and roles; the religious ideology espoused; and the preferred cognitive mode. Individuals from traditional communities hold a strong Mexican worldview, speak Spanish as their primary language, have a field-sensitive cognitive style, espouse a strongly Catholic ideology, and tend to live in relative isolation from the mainstream culture. Those individuals who are said to be dualistic incorporate cultural values from both the Mexican and Anglo-American cultures, are bilingual, Catholic, utilize mixed cognitive styles, and live in more ethnically heterogeneous communities. Atraditional individuals maintain an Anglo-American orientation, speak English exclusively, are field independent, Protestant, and live in communities that are predominantly Anglo-American. In addition, Ramirez and Castañeda attribute the diversity observed in Mexican American communities to these seven variables: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7.

distance from the Mexican border; length of residence in the United States; identification with Mexican, Mexican American, or Spanish American history; degree of American urbanization; degree of economic and political strength of Mexican Americans in the community degree of prejudice; and degree of contact with non–Mexican Americans.

Ramirez and Castañeda also view the notion of bicognitive functioning as a most important goal in the development of bicultural human beings. This relates not only to the issue of cognitive flexibility but also to the fact that functioning effectively in two cognitive styles allows bicultural students to participate more fully in both their culture and the mainstream American culture; this can then help them to achieve a strong bicultural identity. Consequently, the concept of bicognitive development is a vital component of the Ramirez and Castañeda methodology, which evaluates both teachers and students in terms of field-sensitive and fielddependent cognitive styles. This assessment is primarily conducted with instruments that measure preferential modes in terms of cultural values, relational styles, incentive motivation, and other behavioral and attitudinal criteria.1 Based on his work with Black children, Hakim Rashid (1981) defines biculturalism as “the ability to function effectively and productively within the context of America’s core institutions while simultaneously retaining [an] ethnic identity” (p. 55). He strongly argues that biculturalism is an essential developmental process if children of subordinate cultures are to develop the ability to cope with the racism and classism that permeate American society. Related to this view, Rashid posits the notion that biculturalism should also be considered an important component of the cognitive and behavioral repertoire of all American children, “for it is only through recognition of the need for biculturalism that a foundation for true multiculturalism [in society] can be built. when children have developed the ability to survive and thrive within the context of their own culture as well as that of the broader society, a genuine appreciation for the variety of cultures that comprise America is the next step.” (Rashid, 1981, p. 61) A theory of biculturality is described by indigenous psychologist Arnoldo Solis (1980), based on his work with Chicano populations. He defines “biculturality” (biculturalism) in an individual as the result of existing in and adapting to two cultures having substantial dissimilarity. Solis argues that the more similar the cultures, the lesser the degree of biculturality; and on the other hand, the more the dissimilarity between the two cultures, the greater the degree of biculturality. For Solis, the dynamics of biculturation are considered to begin when the dominant culture exerts increasing influence on the subordinate culture to accommodate and assimilate to the dominant culture’s values, language, and cognitive style. At this point, a dynamic of resistance is said to develop, which causes the individual to experience cultural crisis. Within this construct, the process of biculturation is viewed as an attempt to reestablish the intrapsychic harmony of the primary culture that is threatened by the tensions arising as a result of pressure by the dominant culture to renounce 51

subordinate cultural values. The resolution of the bicultural crisis is brought about through a series of developmental stages whereby the individual becomes increasingly able to recognize the value of and is able to utilize adaptive functions from both cultures in a harmonious manner (Solis, 1981). Although there are some differences in the manner in which these bicultural theorists have conceptualized the notion of biculturalism, it is nonetheless evident from this discussion that an understanding of what constitutes the dynamics of biculturalism is essential to any foundations of education that is designed to meet the needs of racialized students. This is particularly true because what has often been missing (although often mentioned) from many of the earlier and more recent theories of biculturalism is a serious confrontation of the power relations that shape the nature of how working-class bicultural students respond to the tension of cultural conflicts and the pressure to assimilate so highly prevalent in traditional American schools. This phenomenon has once again gained steam, given current neoconservative efforts to eliminate multiculturalism in the curriculum and the prevalence of neoliberal educational initiatives anchored to government and corporate efforts to ensure the standardization (or homogenization) of knowledge. Hence, a contemporary reading of biculturalism cannot be reduced to an absolute fixed moment or a linear developmental stage. On the contrary, its critical dimensions must be retained through its formulation of bicultural existence as a deeply complex process encompassing a variety of both conscious and unconscious contradictory, oppressive, and emancipatory responses that are at work along a continuum that moves, conceptually, between the primary culture and the dominant culture (see Figure 3.1).2

Figure 3.1 The Biculturation Process Represented along a Dialectical Continuum

Educators who possess this dialectical understanding of biculturalism will be better equipped to assist their working-class racialized students in critically examining their lived experiences in an effort to reveal genuinely the impact that cultural domination has on their lives. Furthermore, given the nature of cultural domination and resistance, the process of biculturation can also be understood as patterns of responses that are shaped by the manner in which bicultural students react, adjust, and accommodate to the emotional anxiety and physical stress that result from the persistency of cultural dissonance. These response patterns can be perceived in a more critical manner when understood in terms of an axis relationship between culture and power that on one hand moves between the dominant and subordinate cultures, and on the other hand moves between the forces of dominance and resistance (see Figure 3.2).


Figure 3.2 Axis Relationship between Culture and Power

With this in mind, four major response patterns related directly to the biculturation process can be identified: alienation, dualism, separatism, and negotiation. Responses categorized under cultural alienation reflect those that suggest an internalized identification with the dominant culture and a rejection of the primary culture. Some examples of alienation include a bicultural student’s exclusive preference for identifying herself/himself as “American” or seen as “acting white,” refusal to speak their primary language, belief in the inferiority of their primary culture, and denial of the existence of racism. A cultural dualist (or nonnegotiation) response pattern is informed by a perception of having two separate identities: one that is identified with the primary cultural community, and one tied to acceptance of mainstream institutional values. An example of a dualist response is found among members of an all–Black social club who embrace the practices and values of the dominant culture’s elitist ideology. The cultural separatist response pattern identifies those responses associated to remaining strictly within the boundaries of the primary culture while adamantly rejecting the dominant culture. A cultural nationalist group’s responses geared toward complete self-sufficiency for its members, outside of the dominant culture, represent an example of this mode. The cultural negotiation response pattern reflects attempts to mediate, reconcile, and integrate the reality of lived experiences in an effort to retain the primary cultural identity and orientation while also functioning within the dominant culture for social transformation of the society at large. Examples of cultural negotiation are present in community struggles for bilingual education or immigration rights within the United States. It must be stressed that these patterns are conceptualized within a social domain that can be conceptualized as a sphere of biculturalism (see Figure 3.3). As such, these four patterns reflect major modes of engagement that are directly influenced by power relations that result from the axis relationship between culture and power. Within such a sphere of biculturalism, student responses can also be considered with respect to the degree that they can function within a context of bicultural affirmation. For example, cultural alienation and cultural separatist responses move the individual away from bicultural affirmation responses, in that they require a conscious or unconscious denial of the primary culture or the dominant culture in which the individuals must survive. In this sense, alienation responses tend to move the bicultural student more exclusively toward the context of the dominant culture, while cultural separatist responses tend to move the student more exclusively toward the primary (subordinate) cultural context.


Figure 3.3 Sphere of Biculturalism

On the other hand, cultural dualism and cultural negotiation responses, which result from some effort to contend with the reality of both the dominant and subordinate cultural realities, are more likely to result in moving student consciousness toward bicultural affirmation. It might be helpful to point out here that there are some scholars who prefer to use such terms as hybridity or hybrid identity (Tate, 2005; Gutiérrez, BaquedanoLópez, & Tejeda, 1999; Suárez-Orozco, 1998) or panethnic identity (Ricourt & Danta, 2002; Espiritu, 1993) or biracial identity (Womack & Dingle, 2010; Rockquemore & Brunsma, 2002; Root, 1999; O’Hearn, 1998; Shankar, 1998) when referring to many aspects similar to those that are integrated into a critical theory of biculturalism. Nevertheless, what is key here is that educators remain mindful of the forces of hegemony that are constantly at work in shaping material conditions and the shifting social relations that shape the bicultural experience within the United States. Hence, just as other cultural response modes cannot be essentialized, responses which might seem to serve bicultural affirmation may not necessarily result in supporting the emancipatory interests of bicultural students. Examples of this were evident in the uneven manner in which multicultural programs were practiced. Nevertheless, it is safe to say that bicultural affirmation response patterns may hold the greatest emancipatory promise for both individuals and communities, with respect to the struggle for cultural democracy in schools. Also vital to an understanding of biculturalism is recognition of the relationship that exists between cultural response patterns, modes of engagement (thinking), and cultural identity (see Table 3.1). Here again, it is helpful to utilize the four previously discussed response patterns to illustrate the dynamics inherent in the relationship between these three variables. In addition, the variable of cultural identity is presented with respect to both an individual and a social subcategory. Cultural alienation and separatist responses, commonly reflective of a mode of engagement associated with absolute thinking,3 generally seek to negate, eliminate, or move away from the tension, conflict, and contradictions that result from cultural differences. This mode of engagement reinforces a form of cultural identity that is also absolute or totalizing in nature. Hence, an alienation response pattern is commonly associated with individuals who espouse an exclusive identification with the dominant culture, whereas 54

cultural separatism response patterns are associated with individuals who tend to embrace an exclusively primary cultural identity. A dichotomized mode of engagement generally results in dualism response patterns, which are likely to result from a cultural identity that Table 3.1 Relationship of Cultural Response Pattern, Modes of Engagement, and Cultural Identity

Cultural Response Pattern

Mode of Engagement

Alienation Dualism Separatism Negotiation

Absolute Dichotomized Absolute Critical

Cultural Identity Individual Social Dominant Dominant Primary Dominant Primary Primary Primary Bicultural

is also dichotomized between the primary culture and the dominant culture. It is important to note that although the dualist context acknowledges the existence of both cultures, its dichotomized mode of engagement also results in undialectical responses due to its efforts to avoid or deny the tension and contradictions that result from cultural conflicts. Cultural negotiation response patterns most commonly result from a critical mode of engagement that seeks to contend with the tension and contradictions inherent in cultural differences and conflicts. This mechanism functions to affirm a bicultural social identity while sustaining an unambiguous individual identification with the primary culture. Although these categories can assist educators to understand better the dynamics of the biculturation process, it is critical to remember that these patterns are not fixed. Given the contradictory nature of human consciousness and the complexity of the survival mechanisms that motivate these response patterns, bicultural students will exhibit many different variations of tactical responses, depending on the extent of their primary cultural socialization; the degree of their bilingualism; their personal and collective tensions related to class, gender, sexuality, and ability; their consistent association with other bicultural students with schools; the teacher’s cultural and political orientations; the degree of peer pressure; institutional constraints; and a myriad of other social and economic variables. In many ways, this concept of bicultural consciousness echoes certain aspects of Sandoval’s (2000) notion of “differential consciousness” found in her writings on U.S. third world feminism. what Sandoval’s work harkens is “a new subjectivity, a political revision that denie[s] any one [fixed identity] as the final answer, while instead positing a tactical subjectivity with the capacity to de-and re-center, given the forms of power” (p. 59) that must be engaged or confronted by students. Differential consciousness requires grace, flexibility, and strength: enough strength to confidently commit to a well-defined structure of identity for one hour, day, week, month, year; enough flexibility to self-consciously transform that identity according to the requisites of another oppositional ideological tactic if readings of power formation require it; enough grace to recognize alliance with others committed to egalitarian social relations of race, gender, and class justice, when readings of power call for alternative oppositional stands. (p. 60)

From this discussion, it should be readily apparent that some of the response patterns described previously incorporate principles set forth in the various bicultural theories discussed previously. But the critical bicultural perspective proposed here attempts to challenge reductionistic and deterministic influences that shape many of the earlier and current theories of biculturalism. If educators are to meet the pedagogical needs of bicultural students, they must recognize the ideological foundations that shape bicultural responses and the contradictions and tensions that result from students’ efforts to survive in the midst of serious forms of educational oppression. In contrast to notions of biculturalism that define it as a more deliberate and volitional phenomenon, here it is argued that, whether or not a student from a subordinate culture perceives him- or herself as a bicultural being, the fact that the working-class student from a subordinate culture is raised within the sociocultural and class constraints dictated by the dominant culture locates that student, from a sociopolitical standpoint, in a culturally subordinate position within the school and society. It is the pervasive quality of hegemonic control that so often obscures the truth of this reality, particularly for those bicultural individuals who perceive themselves as adjusting successfully to the social constraints through their identification with the culture of the oppressor (Freire, 1970) or what Fordham (1991, 1988) at one point in her work termed “racelessness” or “acting white.” This, again, emphasizes the importance of educators to examine critically bicultural responses in terms 55

of resistance, particularly when these responses fail to result in behaviors, attitudes, or relationships that empower bicultural students by preparing them to engage as full subjects in their world. As a consequence of traditional pedagogical theories and practices, working-class bicultural students often face isolation, alienation, and despair in public schools because few opportunities exist for these students to reflect together on their collective histories and lived experiences, and to explore critically how these experiences relate to their participation in the larger society and to their process of emancipation. Instead, student voices are often silenced, as “the discourse of the other” is systematically ignored in the process of schooling (Giroux, 1988b). If the bicultural voice is to be awakened and students of color are to become active social agents in the world, educators must create the conditions for a genuine form of cultural democracy to take root in the classroom—one that not only creates the space for all aspects of their humanity to be expressed but also allows their cultural particularities to be in critical conversation with the universal human dimensions that are also vital to their identities and relationships with others.


A Philosophy of Cultural Democracy In an effort to develop a critical theory of cultural democracy, it is useful to examine first Ramirez and Castañeda’s (1974) philosophy of cultural democracy for the bilingual classroom. one of the primary objectives of their work is to challenge the negative effects of what they term the “Anglo conformity/assimilation ideology” of the melting-pot theory, which—by implication—reduces all other cultural forms to one of inferior value, status, and importance. Hence, their notion of cultural democracy argues that an individual can be bicultural and still be loyal to American [democratic] ideals. Cultural democracy is a philosophical precept which recognizes that the way a person communicates, relates to others, seeks support and recognition from his [and her] environment . . . and thinks and learns. [Cognition] is a product of the value system of the home and community. Furthermore, educational environments or policies that do not recognize the individual’s right, as guaranteed by the Civil Rights Act of 1964, to remain identified with the culture and language of his cultural group, are culturally undemocratic. (p. 23)

More specifically, a philosophy of cultural democracy argues for the right of each individual to be educated in her or his own language and learning style, which, according to Ramirez and Castañeda, has been found to be integrated with one’s language community. This also implies that all children have the right to maintain a bicultural identity—that is, the right to retain their identification with their culture of origin while simultaneously adopting American values and an American lifestyle. This philosophy encourages institutions to develop learning milieus, curriculum materials, and teaching strategies that are sensitive to the child’s cultural orientation, and thus language and cognitive styles Fernandez, Haug, & Wagner, 1976). Further, the education of bicultural students within the context of a culturally democratic environment is considered by Valverde (1978) to support five specific purposes for students and the school: 1. reducing language and educational disabilities through the opportunity to learn in one’s native language; 2. reinforcing the relations of the school and the home through a common bond; 3. projecting the individual into an atmosphere of personal identification; 4. giving the student a base for success in the field of work; and 5. preserving and enriching the cultural and human resources of a people. In contrast to the “exclusionist Anglo conformity” view, Ramirez and Castañeda characterize the culturally democratic environment as one that 1. considers the student’s language, heritage, cultural values, and learning styles as educationally important; 2. views the home culture as determining unique communication, relational, incentive motivational, and cognitive styles and utilizes these styles as a basis for teacher training; 3. recognizes the child’s personality as acceptable and as a means whereby the child can explore new cultural forms related to communication, human relations, incentive motivation, and cognition; 4. works to change the educational style of the school through greater parent participation, new teaching strategies, curriculum development, and assessment of techniques; and 5. holds as one of its major goals the child’s formation of a bicultural identity. Despite the many contributions of Ramirez and Castañeda’s philosophy of cultural democracy to the field of bicultural education and its promise as a politicizing educational construct, it nonetheless lacks many of the critical qualities essential to the education of bicultural students as members of a subordinate culture. The deficits of the model are most apparent in the fact that it can too easily deteriorate into a positivist instrumentalist modality that perceives culture as predictable, deterministic, neutral, oversimplified, and at moments even relativistic in nature. And although it argues for changing the cultural realities of classrooms, it fails to address critically the necessary shift in power relationships required in schools and society, in order to involve bicultural students in an active process of empowerment, one that can assist them to effectively find their voice, enhance their intellectual formation, and support their development of both individual and 57

collective identity and political solidarity.


Critical Democracy and the Process of Schooling In an effort to expand on the emancipatory intent of Ramirez and Castañeda’s philosophy of cultural democracy, it is helpful to examine the concept of critical democracy, particularly as it relates to the process of schooling. This would provide the critical dimension that is missing in the work of Ramirez and Castañeda and can be useful in specifically addressing the relationship of democracy to notions of student participation and solidarity, as well as the development of voice in the process of schooling. The term “democracy” is derived from the Greek words demos and kratos, meaning rule by the people or the many; in addition, because there were so many poor in Greece, it was taken to mean rule by the poor. Hence, despite the fact that democracy seldom has been equated with overt social conflict, historically it has never been realized without dissent and struggle, and that struggle has always been associated with social and economic equalities (Arblaster, 1987). Even today, the American struggle for democracy and equality, particularly in the classroom, continues to be reflected along the lines of social class and racialized inequalities. The recognition of democracy as a site of struggle is one of the most important principles of a theory of cultural democracy, where the struggle is focused directly on the issue of culture and power and who controls cultural truths. Unfortunately, democracy in the United States often has been reduced simplistically to an unqualified principle of majority rule, enacted primarily through the electoral process—while simultaneously the voices of minority groups are systematically silenced within the larger society. Paul Carr (2010), in Does Your Vote Count: Critical Pedagogy and Democracy, expresses concern for the manner in which the electoral process too often is utilized both to silence the voices of marginalized populations and justify the existence of inequalities, as if all members of U.S. society were equally situated, with power and privilege, to influence policies and practices that impact the education of their children. Instead, Carr asserts that It would be an affront to all people, including aboriginal/indigenous peoples, marginalized groups, and those traditionally kept out of decision-making circles, if the act of voting could stifle debate about what democracy is simply because elections have provided people with a supposed “free choice.” Democracy must be constantly worked and reworked, with less dependence on the formal process and cycle of elections, and it must consider how a more humane, decent, meaningful society can be constructed, outside of the trappings of power elites and constitutional maneuvers that trivialize the aspirations of all people. (p. 5)

When the power of “majority rule” prevails in the classroom or the larger society, minority interests, views, and convictions are generally disregarded in the process of decision making, and certain groups are permanently relegated to a marginal position. Unfortunately, such an understanding of democracy is likely to become unstable and lose legitimacy in the eyes of its citizens. This becomes so because democracy cannot function where there does not exist room to organically develop a common will or common interest, and this cannot develop where a foundation of both social and economic equality is missing. Arblaster (1987) addresses this need more specifically in his writings on democracy: [Democracy] needs a foundation not only of shared values but also of shared experience, so that people identify with the political system to which they belong, and can trust its procedures and outcomes. This means not only that those procedures are seen and felt to be fair. It is also necessary that no significant minorities feel themselves to be permanently excluded from power and influence; that groups and individuals sense that they are roughly equal in their ability to influence the outcome of communal policymaking; and that those outcomes embody what people recognize to be the general interests of society rather than merely the combination or balance of the interests of various particular and organized groups or specific interest. (p. 78)4

From this perspective, it can be better understood why gross and excessive forms of inequality existing in the process of American schooling threaten the coherence of society and hence negate the principles of equality, of which democracy is an expression. It also clearly supports the notion that the contradiction between an espoused theory of democracy and a lived experience of inequality (and the obvious diffusion of power that results) is greatly responsible for the growing social tensions existing in the relationship between subordinate cultural groups and public schooling, whose pedagogical aim centers around the perpetuation of cultural domination and technocratic control. And as a further consequence, it is precisely this form of social disequilibrium that also functions effectively to prevent the concrete development of a genuine common interest and a spirit of solidarity among different groups in society. John Dewey (1916), in writing about democratic schooling, addresses the impact that this form of inequality has on students: 59

In order to have a large number of values in common, all members of the group must have an equitable opportunity to receive and to take from others. There must be a large variety of shared undertakings and experiences. otherwise, the influences which educate some into masters educate others into slaves. And the experience of each party loses in meaning when the free interchange of varying modes of life experience is arrested. . . . [This] lack of free equitable intercourse which springs from a variety of shared interests makes intellectual stimulation unbalanced. . . . The more activity is restricted to a few definite lines—as it is when there are rigid class [cultural] lines preventing adequate interplay of experiences—the more action tends to become routine on the part of the class at a disadvantage, and capricious, aimless, and explosive on the part of the class having the materially fortunate position. (pp. 84–85)

Dewey also argues formidably that schooling in the United States should function to develop in students an ethical foundation for their participation in the democratic process and a critical understanding of democracy as a moral ideal. Such knowledge establishes a sense of community and struggle for principles like freedom, liberty, and common good. But for schools to meet this challenge, Dewey proposes that educators create environments where mutual interests are clearly recognized as the basic factor in social control, and where a commitment exists to continuously readjust as necessary when new situations produced by a variety of social discourses arise. He believes an essential step in deconstructing the “fear of intercourse with others” is to permit conflict between students to occur, thereby enabling them to learn from each other and expand their understanding of the world. In this context, Dewey (1916) defines democracy as primarily a mode of associated living, of conjoint communicated experience. The extension in space of the numbers of individuals who participate in an interest so that each has to refer [her or] his own action to that of others and to consider the action of others to give point and direction to his [or her] own is equivalent to the breaking down of those barriers of class, race, and national territory which kept men [and women] from perceiving the full import of their activity. These more numerous and more varied points of contact denote a greater diversity of stimuli to which an individual has to respond; they consequently put a premium on variation in [her or] his action. They secure a liberation of powers which remain suppressed as long as the invitations to action are partial, as they must be in a group which in its exclusiveness shuts out many interests. (p. 87)

This notion of schools as apprenticeships in democracy is also shared by Freire. In Education for Critical Consciousness, Freire (1973) points to the “habit of submission” that curtails subordinate classes from seeking to integrate themselves with reality, which, he argues, results from a phenomenon of socially conditioned dependency and a lack of experience with participation in the democratic process. He argues that it is only through participation in an educational climate in which open dialogue is fostered that students can develop the skills for critical engagement with their world and a genuine sense of participation in a common democratic life. Thus, Freire posits this axiom: Without dialogue, self-government cannot exist. Here, he speaks to the notion of the free and creative consciousness that results from dialogue, indispensable to authentically democratic environments. He elaborates on the relationship of democracy and this idea of “transitive consciousness”: Democracy requires dialogue, participation, political and social responsibility, as well as a degree of social and political solidarity. . . . Before it becomes a political form, democracy is a form of life, characterized above all by a strong component of transitive consciousness. Such transitivity can neither appear nor develop except as men [and women] are launched into debate, participating in the examination of common problems. (pp. 28–29)

From this standpoint, it also becomes evident that a student’s ability to participate and enter into dialogue within the classroom and, as a result, participate in a democratic social process in the world is also critically connected to the development of voice—that is, voice as it relates to the variety of ways by which students actively participate in dialogue and attempt to make themselves heard and understood, as well as the manner in which they define themselves as social beings. Giroux (1988b) describes this concept of student voice in the following way: Voice refers to the principles of dialogue as they are enunciated and enacted within particular social settings. The concept of voice represents the unique instances of self-expression through which students affirm their own class, culture, racial, and gender identities. A student’s voice is necessarily shaped by personal history and distinctive lived engagement with the surrounding culture. The category of voice, then, refers to the means at our disposal—the discourses available to use—to make ourselves understood and listened to, and to define ourselves as active participants in the world. . . . The concept of voice . . . provides an important basis for constructing and demonstrating the fundamental imperatives of a critical democracy. (p. 199)

The notion of student voice is fundamental to the struggle for democracy and equality in the classroom, particularly as it relates to the development of voice in students of color. It is connected to the control of power and the legitimation of specific student discourses as acceptable truths or rejected fallacies, and consequently determines who speaks and who is silenced. When working-class bicultural students are consistently silenced in the process of their schooling, they often are trapped in classrooms with teachers who not only prevent them from finding their voice but also thwart their organic and contextual understanding of how what they are 60

learning in the classroom can be used to transform their lives. As a result, they are conditioned into a state of dependency on a system that they do not understand (nor which respects them) and are unable to influence because they lack the critical skills and the social- and self-empowerment necessary to make their needs, interests, and concerns heard. This, then, leads to a form of social isolation that prevents the development of a sense of community and solidarity and negates any possibility for a genuine process of democracy to take place in society. Giroux (1988b), in his articulation of voice and active citizenship, speaks to the kind of environment teachers must cultivate in the classroom to prevent the silencing of students: Organize classroom relationships so that students can draw on and confirm those dimensions of their own histories and experiences that are deeply rooted in the surrounding community. . . . assume pedagogical responsibility for attempting to understand the relationships and forces that influence students outside the immediate context of the classroom. . . . develop curricula and pedagogical practices around those community traditions, histories, and forms of knowledge that are often ignored within the dominant school culture. . . . create the conditions where students come together to speak, to engage in dialogue, to share their stories, and to struggle together within social relations that strengthen rather than weaken possibilities for active citizenship [and democracy]. (pp. 199–201)

what emerges from this discussion on democracy and the process of schooling are the fundamental principles on which to develop further a critical theory of cultural democracy. Central to any theory that seeks to speak to the notion of democracy in the classroom is the requirement that it address seriously the themes of student participation, solidarity, common interest, and the development of voice (hooks 1994, 1989). It is not enough to focus on specific cultural and/or cognitive determinants or questions related to curricular content. This is not to say that certain aspects of these educational concerns are not vital to a bicultural pedagogy, but rather to emphasize that these alone will not necessarily ensure a democratic environment. If bicultural students are to become competent in the democratic process, they must be given the opportunity to experience it and live it actively, as it gradually becomes a part of their personal history. But this can only be accomplished if a culturally democratic educational environment exists, one in which students may participate actively and freely. It must also be one where they will receive the consistent support and encouragement required for them to develop their bicultural voice, so they may learn to use it toward their collective empowerment and emancipation. This is to say that the process of awakening the bicultural voice requires a culturally democratic process and loving community, in which students not only feel heard but also feel free to talk—and to talk back (hooks, 1989).


Awakening the Bicultural Voice The concept of voice constitutes one of the most important democratic principles of student empowerment and the evolving ability to participate in and influence the manner in which power is relegated in society—so much so that any theory of cultural democracy must specifically consider the development of voice as it relates to the pedagogical needs of bicultural students. This is particularly significant given the forces of hegemony and cultural invasion at work in the manner that bicultural students perceive themselves, their communities, and their ability to participate in the world. As suggested in the previous section, students can only develop their voice through opportunities to enter into dialogue and engage in a critical process of reflection from which they can share their thoughts, ideas, and lived experiences with others in an open and free manner. Herein, lies a necessary ingredient so often missing in the classroom experience of bicultural students. Again, this generally occurs because the dominant pedagogy of American schools predominantly reflects the values, worldview, and belief system of the dominant culture and class, while neglecting or ignoring the lived experiences of subordinate cultures (Vu˛kovi˛, 2008; Rabow, 2006; Rubin & Silva, 2003; Diaz-Greenberg, 2003). Hence, students of color are silenced and their bicultural experiences negated and ignored, while they are systematically educated into the discourse of the dominant culture—an ethnocentric ideology that perceives the discourse of the other as inferior, invaluable, and deficient in regard to the aims of American society. This manifests itself in various forms of cultural invasion that, consciously or unconsciously, teach bicultural students to deny their lived cultures and their bicultural voice, and to take on uncritically the ideology of the dominant culture. In light of the hegemonic forces active in the hidden curriculum and in classroom relations, the bicultural voice can seldom develop within the school context unless students of color receive the opportunity to enter into dialogue with one another. It is primarily through the dynamics of the bicultural dialogue that students can come together to reflect on the common lived experiences of their bicultural process and their common responses to issues of cultural resistance, alienation, negotiation, affirmation, and oppression. In this way, bicultural students begin to break through the rigidly held perspectives that can result when those who hold power inauthentically name their experience for them. Also important to this process is the role of the bicultural educator who functions as guide, model, and support, and who facilitates the critical (and often fearful) journey into the previously prohibited terrain of the bicultural discourse—a discourse that is so often only felt or sensed, but seldom articulated, within the classroom. Despite this pedagogical need, most teachers of color, unfortunately, repeat the educational patterns they experienced as children and later learned in teacher education programs. Hence, what generally occurs in many classrooms is the inadvertent silencing of the bicultural experience by teachers who have been trained to concentrate their efforts on creating an inauthentic climate of cohesion, conformity, and harmony. By so doing, they fail to involve bicultural students in their own learning and to provide opportunities for them to enter into dialogue regarding the cultural conflicts and social contradictions they experience in the classroom and in their communities. It is precisely in meeting the students’ need to participate in bicultural dialogue with others that the bicultural teacher can most provide assistance in facilitating the process across this terrain of struggle, and thus cultivate through a critical process with students a spirit of possibility and empowerment (Nieto, 1999/2009, 2002/2010, 2005; Darder, 2002). Bicultural educators who have found their own voice can provide an effective bicultural mirror, through which they can validate, support, and encourage students going through this process during moments of cognitive disequilibrium. These teachers can also help bicultural students discover a language that accurately describes the feelings, ideas, and observations that previously have not fit into any of the definitions of experience provided by the dominant educational discourse. Above all, this represents a critical effort to assist students in integrating themselves as complete human beings in the world by recognizing the truths embedded in their personal reflections and the substance of their everyday lives—in essence, to awaken the bicultural voice. The development of voice and social empowerment go hand in hand as bicultural students peel away the layers of oppression and denial, undergo a deconstruction of the conditioned definitions of who they are, and emerge with a sense of their existence as historically situated social agents 62

who can utilize their understanding of their world and themselves to enter into dialogue with those who are culturally different. At this point, it is imperative to note that this does not mean that the bicultural voice is the only voice bicultural students need. But it does suggest that it represents a major step toward their self-empowerment because it is the voice most intimately linked to their personal identity and their “authority of experience” (hooks 1994, p. 81). Further, it is by way of the bicultural voice that students can develop the self-empowerment required to participate in the collective public voice—a voice that must be built around a collaborative effort and commitment of the many to examine critically their collective lived experiences so that together they might discover the common good. In this manner, bicultural students can also develop the ability, confidence, and desire to acknowledge the similarities, honor the differences, examine the possibilities, and struggle openly with a genuine spirit of solidarity in the context of a complex and ever-changing multicultural society. The role of the Euroamerican educator in the development of the bicultural voice is also significant to this discussion. Often the white teacher is one of the few people from the dominant culture with whom workingclass bicultural students have any contact on a regular basis. Consequently, the white teacher can become for the bicultural student the primary reflection of not only public institutions but also the society at large. How conscious teachers are of this phenomenon, as well as of the histories and stories of the bicultural communities in which bicultural students reside, is fundamental to their ability to assist students in developing their voice. White educators who are working with bicultural students must first come to acknowledge their own limitations, prejudices, and biases, and must be willing to enter into dialogue with their students in a spirit of humility and with respect for the knowledge that students bring to the classroom (Bartolomé, 2007; Landsman & Lewis, 2007; Howard, 2006; Pearce, 2005). Despite how well-meaning many teachers may be, often it is at this juncture of power (and control) that they fail bicultural students. This commonly occurs because any genuine acknowledgment of one’s limitations is closely related to letting go of the control (power) associated with knowing (or authority), and in the process permitting the student to teach the teacher (Freire, 1970). This process truly requires the teacher to engage more horizontally and, in so doing, create conditions that empower students. This is achieved by critically engaging, challenging, and affirming students, and by incorporating into the classroom the knowledge that bicultural students bring about self and community. The emphasis here is placed on the recognition that the white critical educator has much to learn from as well as to teach bicultural students in the context of a culturally democratic classroom. Teachers can discover from bicultural students how they feel, think, dream, and live. In turn, they can provide for their students the opportunity to develop critical academic skills, examine their histories, reflect on the world, and engage in dominant educational discourses as free social agents with the potential to influence and transform their individual and collective conditions. Most important to any educational theory of cultural democracy is recognition by the educator—regardless of her or his class, culture, or ethnic identity—of the emancipatory needs of working-class students of color. In order for bicultural students to develop critical skills in the classroom, there must first exist a culturally democratic environment where students find opportunities to participate freely with others as they enact preexisting and developing “funds of knowledge”5 (González et al., 2005; Moll et al., 1992) within the classroom. This critical pedagogical process constitutes the integration of cultural knowledge that is tied to important values and social practices necessary to understanding how society works, where students are located within society, and what opportunities or inequalities are at play in their lives. Educators must also remain conscious of the fact that bicultural students shape and are shaped by their cultural values, as well as by their constant struggles to survive within the myriad of cultural contradictions they face each day.


Chapter 4 Testing, Inequality, and the Brain Few tragedies can be more extensive than the stunting of life, few injustices deeper than the denial of an opportunity to strive or even to hope, by a limit imposed from without, but falsely identified as lying within. Stephen Jay Gould, The Mismeasure of Man, 1981

WHETHER DERIVED FROM A CONSERVATIVE OR LIBERAL DISCOURSE, THE RHETORIC OF public education in the United States has, historically, claimed to be a democratizing force, committed to justice, freedom and excellence. As illustrated in a variety of ways in the previous chapters, upon closer examination what is revealed is an educational system that has systematically reproduced, reinforced, and sustained practices of social control and regulation. In turn, this has guaranteed the perpetuation of inequalities tied to class, gender, sexuality, and physical ability, along with the overarching racialization of populations. The chapter provides a close look at the manner in which the myth of meritocracy, the power and privilege of the elite, and the hegemony of state consensus have converged into a dominant logic that overwhelmingly supports the over-testing of racialized children in public schools today (Au, 2008; Lipman, 2004). Moreover, this persistent and incessant culture of testing and assessment, which begins very early in the life of bicultural children, has now become so normalized that, for the most part, the practice is simply accepted as commonplace. Even more disturbing is the manner in which student “learning [is reduced] to a test score, [as] policy makers seek to make the knowledge of disparate individuals commensurable” (De Lissovoy & McLaren, 2003, p. 133). yet, seldom do educators associate the growing obsession with high stakes testing with major changes in the socioeconomic landscape of U.S. society. Speaking to this issue, Alex Molnar (1996), in Giving Kids the Business, points out how simultaneously with a depressed economy and worsening conditions for workers, conservative pundits, policy makers, and business leaders turn to the “rhetoric about the catastrophic failure” of public schooling (p. 10) to create a rationale and justification for intervention. Such leaders clamor for accountability measures and free-market solutions to solve educational problems. what lies veiled behind their proposed neoliberal reforms is “a public-spirited justification for introducing education to the profit motive and giving educators a healthy dose of the ‘real world’ in the form of competition. But more important, they keep the focus on schools and off the failure of business (Molnar, 1996, p. 10)” to make good on the promise of democracy. In response to the pressure of large corporations, education has become more and more fixated on making claims of scientific authority to carry out money-driven policies in response to academic problems faced by students from working-class communities and communities of color (Duncan-Andrade & Morrell, 2008; Lipman, 2004). As such, historical parallels exist between contemporary “accountability experts” in education and the “cost-efficiency consultants” of the early part of the twentieth century. Conditions that parallel these two historical eras include increasing immigration, burgeoning student enrollments in urban centers, economic decline, and overt military action overseas. Moreover, the same rhetoric of corruption and declining efficiency of public schools, so prevalent among corporate elites today, was utilized to legitimate the move by big business leaders to take control of public education in the early part of the twentieth century (Darder, 2005). At that time, elite businessmen ran for school boards and solicited the advice of efficiency experts like Frederick Taylor, in their misguided effort to make schools function like well-oiled factory machines. Hence, teachers as dependable cogs in the wheel were expected to follow a strict “scientifically based” curriculum that manufactured children to the specifications of deeply held class, racial, and gender stereotypes and prejudices. However, in the early period of the twentieth century, it was Irish and the Italian children, in particular, who were branded genetically and morally suspect and incapable of learning (McNeil, 2000).


A Brief History of Assessment In the early 1900s, students were perceived as objects whose mastery of content could readily be measured. It was a time when measuring and comparing cranium sizes to determine intelligence was commonplace (Gould, 1981). This form of evaluation was considered by its proponents as fully scientific, objective, controlled, reproducible, and statistically accurate. This led (not surprisingly), to a taxonomy which “objectively and scientifically” ranked the cultural and class group of these early psychometric researchers, as occupying the top rungs of human intelligence, with the rest of humanity hierarchically following behind. The French psychologist Alfred Binet belongs to this early period of evaluation; however, he abandoned the notion of anatomical stigmata as a way of measuring intelligence and instead developed a series of tests from which an intelligence quotient, or IQ, could be derived. Although Binet argued adamantly against the use of this IQ measure to determine innate intelligence, hereditarian researchers such H. H. Goddard (1920), L. M. Terman (1916), and R. M. yerks (1921) appropriated Binet’s work and subjected it to a ranking system. Disregarding Binet’s concerns, these Darwinian-inspired researchers instead claimed confidently that the IQ score indicated a permanent marker of inborn intelligence. So highly respected was the scientific legitimacy of their premise that it was utilized as a powerful rationale in support of the Immigration Act of 1924, to impose immigration quotas (Gould, 1981). By the late 1920s, “group administered intelligence tests were used with greater frequency in U.S. public schools” (Valencia & Suzuki, 2001). In concert, the use of test results became commonplace in making student curricular assignments and determining ability groups. A renewed fervor for intelligence assessment and evaluation followed WWII and the Sputnik space race era (Valencia and Suzuki, 2001; Guba & Lincoln, 1989; Tyack, 1974). The federal government sought heightened program accountability and increased testing to ensure that a rigorous curriculum was being taught in all schools to all students. The impetus was U.S. competition with the Russians for perceived superiority. Thus was born the standardized testing craze in elementary, middle, and high school, and even early childhood education. By 1965, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act was passed. This law provided increased federal funding for schools and encouraged them to use standardized testing to assess their students. From 1965–2001, almost every public school student took some sort of standardized test once or twice a year. Scores were not widely disseminated, nor were they generally used to punish schools or individual students, as we are seeing widely practiced today. This more recent change in the history of assessment, of course, comes with the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 2002, also known as “No Child Left Behind.” NCLB mandated that all schools that receive federal funding assess their students with rigorous, standards-driven, and standardized assessments. It is interesting to note that the Stanford Binet, the Wechsler Intelligence scales, (including the “Baby Wechsler”), and even the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test were developed and designed with a deficit model of intelligence in mind, in that their originators were all primarily involved with efforts to diagnose retardation or deficit intelligence; the practice of utilizing these test for identifying “gifted” children was a later preoccupation. As a consequence, despite efforts to create more responsive constructivist evaluation methods, the underpinning of deficiency orientation has remained a tenacious unexamined dimension in the world of testing children (Valencia & Suzuki, 2001).1 As a consequence, it is very difficult for educators to change their mindset about the legitimacy of standardized testing and their unexamined allegiance to the supposed scientific authority that testing advocates persistently claim. Moreover, the very claim of objectivity used to justify the testing of bicultural children is well steeped in the cultural assumptions and ideology of the dominant culture and class. Schools then operate based upon a view of the world that is clearly governed by a rationality that glorifies and privileges Western logic and scientific method (Au, 2009). To comply, then, with the scientific requirement of measureable, evidence-based knowledge, assessment tools and high-stakes tests are constructed under a rubric of objective knowledge, where knowledge is treated as an external body of information, produced independently of human beings and independent of time and place (Kincheloe, 2008b; Macedo, 2006). As such, assessment tools must be expressed in language that is technical and allegedly objective. School knowledge then not only becomes countable and measurable, but also impersonal and neutral. As such, standardized assessment is normalized and exulted as 65

the only truly effective and “unbiased” mechanism to measure and predict academic achievement (Oakes, 1993). Hence, testing advocates maintain a carte blanche adherence to the educational practice of meritocracy—a practice that functions as one of the primary social control mechanisms implicated in the inequitable achievement and advancement of students within the educational system. Through common day practices of meritocracy, undemocratic distribution of wealth is justified (Au, 2009; Apple, 1999). First, it establishes the merit of the elite as legitimate heirs to power, privilege, and wealth. And second, it persists in blaming those who fail to achieve, by implying they do not have the necessary intelligence, motivation, or drive to partake of what “freely” is being offered them by the educational system (Oakes, 1993). To digress for a moment, the Stanford-Binet 5 (revised five times since its inception), for example, is still one of the most widely used tests for measuring intelligence today (Valencia & Suzuki, 2001). one of its common uses is to determine which children are deemed as gifted and thus merit additional resources for their education. Hence, the early culture of assessment, evaluation, and standardization persists as the ideal approach to student evaluation, in that it was sold under the democratic ideal of creating a “fair contest,” upon which all students could be judged—because they would be measured scientifically and objectively. once a group was tested, ranked, and rewarded, a system of meritocracy was created consistent with the dominant bourgeois myth of superiority (Buchanan et al., 2000). Hence, “scientific” data typically demonstrated that poor, immigrant children and children of color had the lowest scores and thus merited the least (Oakes, 1993), for they were perceived as being deficit in intelligence.


Economics as the Driving Force In today’s world, economics is the driving force behind assessment and evaluation of our children. Educational officials, government agencies, and corporate leaders alike hold the process of schooling hostage, through their demands for accountability measures, in exchange for federal funding and corporate contributions to schools, tax initiatives in support of education, and state educational budget increases. Schools are expected to function with the efficiency of a large corporation, with a chief executive officer (CEO) holding the reins, and the language and practices of schooling translated into the technical realm of accountability. These government officials and business leaders insist that measurable, scientifically based objectives must be the primary impetus for making decisions, designing curricula, and articulating the pedagogical imperatives of the classroom. Accordingly, they advocate fervently for an increase in standardized assessment and evaluation. In the process, the singular accountability indicator of assessment scores has received overarching prominence, seriously curtailing educational debates to that of numbers and categories of students to be tested. Subsequently, the questions welcomed and legitimated within this narrow discourse of quality and accountability uphold an uncritical adherence to standardized assessment and evaluation as the most effective and legitimate means for assessing academic achievement. Rather than entertaining questions regarding students’ learning needs and overall performance, the current questions that dominate educational debates all seem to loop back to improvement of student scores (Darder & Torres, 2004). In this closed system of accountability, dialogue tied to the very conditions under which schooling functions, its unexamined assumptions, its asymmetrical relations of power, and its effect on students’ intellectual development is negated, whereas any issue not linked to student measurement is considered inconsequential to public policy and educational debates. Hence, despite the efforts of educators who fought for culturally relevant assessment, district and school accountability, and responsive constructivist evaluation approaches in the ’70s and ’80s, the contemporary evidence-based movement of accountability has openly and unabashedly turned the education of working-class and poor students of color into “drill and kill” exercises of teaching to the test and the use of highly scripted literacy curricula (Au, 2009; Darder, 2005; Lipman, 2004). The exceedingly prescriptive nature of these practices leaves little doubt that test-driven curricula are, directly or indirectly, linked to an academically limiting system of social control—a system that successfully sustains the reproduction of class formation within both public schools and the larger society. Moreover, student failure is often directly tied to practices of cultural irrelevancy and class biases, which are hidden in the conceptual construction and language use of standardized assessments and evaluation. Hence, an emphasis on standardized testing serves to effectively veil the manner in which educational institutions produce classroom environments that grossly limit the conditions for brain development, and thus the intellectual formation, of healthy, working-class bicultural children. This may, therefore, signal an important sphere for examination, given that the cultural compass of historically oppressed populations may predispose them to different sensibilities and tendencies because of deep legacies of class hostilities, racialized brutalities, and institutional injustices. Stephen Jay Gould (1981) asks, in his closing words to The Mismeasure of Man, “Does biology, then, play no other valid role in the analysis of human behavior?” (p. 355). In response, neuroscientists, cognitive psychologists, and educators are exploring this territory more rigorously, by way of renewed attention to the subject of brain development, cognitive development, and environmental conditions within schools.


The Brain and Learning2 At this juncture, we turn to a delicate discussion that has seldom been woven into radical discourses of educational inequalities—that of the brain and its function in the process of learning. From the former discussion, it is easy to guess why this has been so, given the horrendous abuses that have emerged from the racialized deficit interpretations of conservative hereditarian researchers, with respect to the intelligence of people of color. Aside from subtle and not so subtle prejudices of inferiority and gross institutionalized racism, the research on intelligence discussed earlier was also anchored to an earlier scientific paradigm of brain development, which posited the brain as a genetically encoded organ that became hardwired early in life and thus permanently fixed. This traditional scientific notion of the brain also allowed the early science of psychometrics to flourish unfettered, in that it provided, in the name of science, politically useful justifications to support the superiority of members of the dominant culture and class. Hence, I.Q testing became the means by which psychometrists could claim to scientifically measure intelligence, or at least predictable potential, and thus assert the relative stability of IQ throughout a person’s lifetime. Such a view of intelligence, linked to a belief in the limited invariability of the brain, was conveniently in sync with the use of testing as a mechanism for social control and the distribution of wealth. As the logic went, those deemed to possess greater intellectual potential or capacity could then justifiably retain control of the majority of the wealth and resources of the nation, as well as occupy the highest rungs of society. However, recent research on the brain, garnered with technology that allows neurologists to map neurological pathways and brain activity under a variety of conditions, has blown holes into the old paradigm —the same paradigm that sustained grossly fallacious theories about the inferior intelligence of racialized populations. According to Blakemore and Frith (2005), Neuroscience research has already shed a great deal of light on how brains learn. Recent advances in technology have provided an amazing toll for neuroscientists to discover more about how the brain functions. Techniques such as brain imaging, which measures activity in the brain as people perform a certain task, have significantly pushed forward our knowledge of the human brain and mind. Brian scientists can now offer some understanding of how the brain learns new information and deals with it throughout life. (p. 1)

Hence, we can critically consider how contemporary studies of the brain could potentially support emancipatory struggles in education by assisting us in substantiating the wisdom of utilizing culturally and linguistically competent teaching strategies in schooling bicultural children. But more important, it may help us to better understand the diversity of cultural values and belief systems and their particular human function in the world. However, before moving forward, it is important to understand that this preliminary discussion must be engaged cautiously and with openness. Moreover, as Four Arrows, Cajete, and Jongmin (2009)3 warn in Critical Neurophilosophy and Indigenous Knowledge, any time we are engaging with the products of Western technology, we must be vigilant in our efforts. They contend that “we must utilize these new technologies in concert with a more organic grounding. Without such a grounding, Western neuroscience and the philosophers who attempt to make sense of their ‘objective’ findings may lead us further away from, not closer to, the truth about what humans can do to live in harmony with the planet” (p. vii). The purpose here is not to engage specific studies, but rather to provide a philosophical interpretation based upon readings that point to a new understanding of how the brain works. Many of the concepts addressed here are actually commonly known to teachers, especially teachers of young children. This is an effort to look at some of the material on brain development in order to see what pedagogical explanations and possibilities it might afford us in thinking through conditions for schooling bicultural students. This said, “there are about 100 billion neurons in the human brain and each is connected to thousands of others. Most behaviors, beliefs and emotions engage multiple parts of the brain and the variety of possible interactions with memory, culture, and DNA is unfathomable (Four Arrows et al., 2009, p. ix). yet, despite the unfathomable possibilities in human responses, current research in neuroscience does substantiate that all healthy brains develop new knowledge upon already existing knowledge. This is to say that children use 68

existing neural circuits that hold what is familiar information—what they have learned previously and have synaptically wired in place—to learn that which is completely unfamiliar to them. In other words, given the manner in which the healthy human brain functions, it is easiest to make new connections in the brain by turning on existing circuits; then, once these are activated, we can add new information to the already existing connections, expanding brain potential for learning (Dispenza, 2007; Blakemore & Frith, 2005). For example, if someone were to ask you: what is “mamey?” If you do not know, you’ll have a very tough time imagining or conceptualizing “mamey.” But your brain will immediately seek out available circuits in your temporal lobe, which retain long-term language memory, to make sense of “mamey.” Does it mean a “mama,” or mother, in another language or dialect? Is it a term for mammary gland? Is it money in another language? Because you have no idea, your brain will continue to go through this process, without finding meaning. But if you’re told that “it’s a tropical fruit” and then you’re told that a mamey has light-brown skin when ripe, and fleshy orange pulp inside; and then you’re told that a mamey is remarkably sweet when ripe; and then you’re shown a photograph of a mamey—many circuits in your brain begin to light up. But, of course, the most powerful learning experience of “what is a mamey” would happen for you if a mamey were placed in your hands and you smelled it, and you cut through its flesh, and then you ate the sweet ripe flesh. At that point, you would have made some powerful new neural associations in your brain, and thus you would have begun to truly learn what a mamey is—not in the abstract, but in vivo. In similar ways, making neural associations in the brain is how bicultural children, like all children, accomplish the process of learning. when they learn from association, they draw directly upon that which they have already learned, remembered, and wired in their brains, so that they can add new connections for expanding their knowledge potential. But there is a catch, because as they turn on existing neural circuits, those circuits must be closely related to the new subject or the new information that they are attempting to learn. That is to say, by associating new knowledge with preexisting knowledge, children begin to develop new skills and store new information about their world. As Freire would say, this is how they begin to “read” their world, even before they read the word. In the preceding example, let’s say you had never known a fruit. Then to say “it’s a fruit” would have been worthless to you, because you would have no preexisting information stored in your brain upon which to anchor the new learning or upon which to expand further your brain capacity. At birth, we are all born with preloaded synaptic connections in the form of existing memories. Given how the brain works, if it were not so, we would have no place from which to begin learning that which is necessary for a young child to survive (Dispenza, 2008). Hence, contrary to Aristotle’s notion (and later Descartes’s), a child is not born a tabula rasa, a blank slate upon which the environment need only make its mark. For it is the synaptic patterns we inherit genetically (some considered reflexes) that allow us to develop the capacity to function in our world. We are all born with predispositions that are tied to universal long-term genetic traits (common to the entire human race), as well as ancestral predispositions—which may be why indigenous wisdom reminds us that our actions, words, and teachings will be felt onto seven generations (Cajete, 1994; Jones & Jones, 2002). It is important to understand here that this is not to advocate for Darwin’s notion that “biology is destiny.” Rather, I’m asserting that all healthy children are endowed with neurological frameworks that impact how they learn and what they are able to learn, depending on the environmental conditions that are at work (Dickens, 2005; Brooks-Gunn et al., 1996) when they are attempting to learn new information and to construct new knowledge. Recent research in neuroscience using imaging technologies can actually “see” changes taking place in the brain, neurologically and chemically, given environmental conditions. And what this research resoundingly demonstrates is the incredible neuroplasticity of the brain—the capacity for human beings to learn new information and construct new knowledge throughout their lifetime (Lipina & Colombo, 2009; Blakemore & Frith, 2005). Thus, under optimal conditions, the brain of all human beings continues to develop, albeit at a slower pace than the early years, but significantly nonetheless. Also important is the manner in which the research on cognitive ability seems to point to a nurture and nature relationship; that is, “genes and environment work together, rather than independently” (Dilkins, 2005, p. 62). Perhaps, it is high time we ask new questions tied to the nature versus nurture conundrum. Rather than persist with tired and worn-out ruminations that “scientifically” attempt to hierarchize genetic differences, which ultimately support white supremacist ideologies, might we not hypothesize that it is precisely the 69

adaptive interplay between genetic predispositions (nature) and cultural predispositions (nurture) that results in cultural or racialized differences—differences not predicated on predetermined intelligence, but instead on a multiplicity of ecological forces that influence survival? For example, no matter how high an IQ score an affluent, pampered youth may sport, put that same youth into the so-called “mean streets” of inner-city poverty and you can bet that his or her “mean-street” IQ score will prove well to show retardation.

Genetic and Cultural Predispositions No matter, then, the specificities of the interplay between genes and environment, what seems most certain is that as long as the brain is functioning normally, children generally arrive at school more similar than not in their capacity to learn, to process information, and to construct new knowledge—if they are placed within conditions that support positively both genetic and cultural predispositions. when the significance of this neurological factor is not adequately addressed in the manner in which children are educated, then it should be no surprise that limited–English speaking children, for example, who are exposed to culturally and linguistically restrictive language policies and practices, will struggle to develop intellectually as quickly and effectively as their counterparts who find greater familiarity within the classroom environment—familiarity from which to easily make long-lasting associations and build greater brain capacity. This is not because limited–English speaking children are innately less intelligent, but rather because the environmental conditions in which they are expected to learn are simply inadequate for creating optimal learning conditions for these children to build upon the cultural knowledge (or preexisting synaptic connections) with which they arrive in the classroom. It is for this reason that many minority language children who arrive at preschool excited and enthusiastic about learning become turned off or are perceived as slow by the time they reach second or third grade, and often even earlier. I want to return for a moment to the notion that children are not tabula rasa, but rather from birth arrive in the world with inherited synaptic circuits—neural circuits that become culturally wired by their repetitive use (or neurological firing), instilled in them by their parents, their family, and immediate social community. Hence, the child’s cultural consciousness is held in the areas of the brain where the most familiar synaptic connections reside. From the standpoint of education, this means that when children are schooled in ways that permit them to utilize their familiar synaptic connections or cultural consciousness to develop new knowledge, they will learn more quickly and more effectively. If, on the other hand, they are placed into a schooling environment that is culturally and linguistically unfamiliar to them, they are essentially tossed into what is equivalent to a state lottery, which has, bar none, the worst gambling odds of any game. Is it any wonder then that in most large urban centers, over 50 percent of working-class youth of color drop out from high school? It is also disconcerting to note the failure of many educational programs to systematically integrate adults knowledgeable of cultural and linguistic differences into the educational experiences of young children. Teachers, parents, and community members, who are anchored within children’s familiar milieu, are essential to assisting schools in creating learning activities and culturally competent programs that build on cultural and ancestral knowledge—knowledge that is most tied to children’s genetic and cultural predispositions. The emphasis here is to understand that such knowledge is central in making new associations in the brain (for learning) in ways that make it possible for children to effectively process unfamiliar information and knowledge that exists outside of their familiar synaptic connections, and to learn it effectively.

Making New Synaptic Connections Let us consider for a moment the manner in which children make new synaptic connections in the brain. The first way is to learn new information (e.g., by reading a book); the second way is to have new experiences. As such, every time children are involved in constructing new knowledge or learning new information, their brain changes as it prepares for new learning. Each time they are introduced to new experiences, their brain also records new patterns of neurological circuits that prepare them for further learning in a scaffolding of knowledge that must have as its foundation that which is familiar and known to them. This is what is meant by building upon the strength of children’s lived experiences and cultural knowledge. This phenomenon holds 70

a variety of important implications for the education of young children, particularly for those who enter the classroom with a different culture and/or language. If healthy children are placed into an educational environment that does not stimulate them sufficiently in ways that allow them to build on their preexisting synaptic connections, they will become frustrated, bored, or simply attention deficit; and hence, they will be unable to make sufficiently new synaptic connections, making it even more difficult for them to learn new information and to construct new knowledge. Similarly, if they are tossed into an unfamiliar experience without sufficient support and guidance in translating the unfamiliarity into association with their familiar synaptic connections, they will become overwhelmed and hence agitated, or they will simply shut down. Moreover, the longer they find themselves in such conditions without adequate academic intervention, the more likely they are to become “hardwired” to resist the very process of schooling, which becomes internalized as a “hostile” environment. Despite these very normal physiological and psychological responses to adverse conditions of learning, often working-class children of color, whose culture and language is different from that of the mainstream, are racialized in ways that deem them pathological or uneducable.

The Power of Attention and Experience The key ingredient in making neural connections from book or abstract knowledge and remembering what is learned is fundamentally tied to both the power of attention and experience. when children are placed in conditions that permit them to attend to what they are learning, their brains are able to map the information, comprehend, and store it for later use. Moreover, the more a child is able to concentrate, the stronger the signals that are sent to the associated neurons in the brain, leading to a more pronounced level of firing. Attention creates heightened stimulation and heightened stimulation enhances learning. The inverse is also true. when children are in conditions that do not allow them to pay attention (generally due to an absence of information to which they are readily able to associate), they are unable to make long-lasting synaptic connections and learning cannot occur. Similarly, children make synaptic circuits in the neocortex through experiences, which enhance learning. In fact, experience creates the strongest and most lasting connections. Part of the reason that experience is such a powerful stimulus for learning is the manner in which it involves the body, the senses, and the mind. Moreover, the brain stores episodic memories (or experiential memories) in long-term memory more readily than it can store semantic memories (abstract or book learning). And even stronger memories are laid down whenever children experience strong emotions within the context of their learning. This is to say that experiences feed the mind through the body. when children are in the midst of new experiences, all their senses are engaged. This sends a synchronous crescendo of sensory stimuli through five different pathways to the brain all at once. This intensified experience enhances the capacity to learn, due to the release of neurotransmitters in the brain. Hence, the combination of what children experience and what they feel helps to form lasting memories that support their learning process. often contexts that provide children wonderful experiential opportunities are referred to as enriched environments, which are, incidentally, what so-called gifted children and children who attend elite schools receive, as compared to supposedly nongifted children or working-class kids. It is worth noting that children who are exposed to many enriched and novel experiences make new synaptic connections, and thus the potential for brain growth exponentially expands. In addition, a greater number of diversified experiences leaves new pathways in the neocortex that can later be accessed as stronger, more long-lasting memories. overall, what is suggested here is that a child’s brain will not remember something until it has interpreted it in a personally meaningful way. This, in turn, requires full, active participation. It is precisely for this reason that sound educational principles must support a pedagogical process that brings together abstract or book learning with experience, especially in the education of young bicultural children. Children need both semantic (book) learning and episodic (physical, sensory) experiences to more effectively develop the brain and to take advantage of the powerful neuroplasticity that is our legacy as human beings. Hence, to toss children into environments that violate these human principles of learning is to stifle their academic development and interfere with their intellectual formation, irrespective of language and culture. Unfortunately, such is the case for cultural and linguistic minorities who are thrown into ethnocentric classroom environments that fail to 71

provide either the book learning or adequate experiences and relationships critical to their learning needs.


Beyond Testing As alluded to earlier, assessment dominates the lives of teachers and students in U.S. public schools, but its “good intentions” often produce unexpected and unintended negative consequences (Stobart, 2008). These unintended consequences often produce high drop-out rates, illiteracy, and misdiagnosis of educational difficulties, particularly in children outside the mainstream. Today, 1 out of every 100 persons living in the United States is now incarcerated (Gilmore, 2007). The majority of those incarcerated are poor working-class people of color. In addition, 70 percent of inmates in U.S. prisons are considered to be functionally illiterate.4 Experts in the field claim that children who cannot read at grade level by the end of first grade rarely catch up without remedial help, and that usually the achievement gap widens as time progresses.5 Given what is understood now about neuroplasticity and the lifelong capacity of the brain to evolve, such a statement must uncover the veil that perpetuates the problem. Many poor working-class children are unable to learn to read because they are taught within environments that fail to provide them adequate experiences to support the formation of new and lasting synaptic connections linked to learning. And the longer they remain in such environments, the more inadequate their academic performance may become and thus the more alienated and frustrated the child can potentially feel. This can then lead to either aggressiveness or withdrawal—not because the child is somehow innately less intelligent or more violent, but rather because human beings require certain positive experiences, relationships, and activities tied to cognitive development in order to help fortify and expand the synaptic connections within the neocortex, where higher-order responses and behaviors associated with perseverance, confidence, trust, empathy,6 and compassion for self and others develop. Hence, if the human being is educated in a manner that consistently creates overwhelming stress and frustration, year after year, the expected outcome is going to be attention deficit, alienation, distrust, and disconnection from the process of schooling. Moreover, given the impact of racism in the classroom, students of color who struggle with the process of integration into the mainstream can also experience a lack of acceptance and empathy from their teachers. From this standpoint, we can come to understand that when many students drop out of school, it is actually a completely logical and necessary decision, given the negative impact of the schooling context upon the emotional, psychological, physical, and spiritual aspects of their lives. what is even more disconcerting here is the manner in which the small percentage of children who survive the “sink or swim” context created by restrictive cultural and language policies are utilized as examples that the system is not broken and that it is the children themselves, their parents, and their communities that are at fault for the “learning difficulties” and “achievement gaps” within public schools. This is not to say that there may not be issues in the home that can have a negative impact on children’s learning. However, what cannot be denied is that children are not only incredibly resilient but that they also spend a good portion of their waking hours in school and in the company of teachers, other children, and other school personnel. The quality of those experiences is central to the overall intellectual and thus academic development of bicultural children. To blame the problems of learning on the student’s culture, parents, or community is to abdicate the responsibility of the school to create educational contexts that are genuinely conducive to children’s brain development and intellectual formation. Therefore, rather than “high-risk” students, it seems we should be more concerned with “high-risk” institutions, whose policies and practices, deliberately or not, can rob bicultural children of their innate intelligence. Accordingly, working-class children are denied the opportunities to evolve in ways that permit their human potential to be actualized and thus the human potential of their communities to flourish. what all this reinforces here is that to finally step out of the racializing blame game or to stop gambling with young children’s lives requires a sincere willingness to dislodge the mindset (or to dump the old collective synaptic connections) that sustain a deeply ethnocentric and elitist vision that continues to permeate life in schools in this deeply unequal America. It requires the reconstruction of institutional policies and practices that undermine the capacity and power of other cultural ways of knowing and experiencing humanity—ways of being and knowing that could potentially enhance the academic vitality of education in the United States, not 73

only for bilingual/bicultural children, but also for all children. Such a reconstruction calls for a culturally democratic environment that benefits not only the intellectual development of children of the wealthy and powerful, but also the healthy development of all children from all communities, who must learn to participate together within a democratic state. We, as educators and members of the human family, have the capacity to expand our tolerance for difference and to evolve ourselves neurologically, and hence socially, politically, and spiritually, so that we might all become a society capable of a higher order of thinking—one that emanates from love, trust, empathy, compassion, and solidarity, rather than fear, greed, and the subsequent competitive use of power to oppress. For it is this power to oppress and marginalize those populations deemed inferior, whose ways of knowing and being challenge the imaginary normalcy of the status quo—it this power to oppress that has served as the historical foundation for high-stakes testing in U.S. public schools. Therefore, it is impossible to impact significantly the “underachievement” of working-class bicultural students without addressing the issue of culture and power in society and its role in the cultural subordination of racialized populations, despite proclaimed democratic ideals. It is this link between culture and power that must be challenged in any effort to develop a theory of critical bicultural education that can genuinely function toward the emancipatory interests of bicultural students in the United States. Moreover, what is readily evident from our previous discussion is the need to integrate a critical bicultural pedagogy built on a foundation of cultural democracy that can speak to issues of particular cultural values and the development of identity and cognition. A bicultural pedagogy must as well critically address the awakening of the bicultural voice and the development of a consciousness of struggle and solidarity that will prepare bicultural students to undertake the democratic responsibility of participation in their world—morally committed to the liberation and empowerment of all people.


Chapter 5 The Foundation For a Critical Bicultural Pedagogy The solution is not to integrate them into the structure of oppression, but to transform that structure so that they can become beings for themselves. Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed, 1970

HISTORICALLY, BICULTURAL EDUCATION HAS BEEN LINKED MOST DIRECTLY TO BILINGUAL instructional theory. The powerful relationship between culture and language suggests the logic at work in this connection and the symbiotic manner in which these concepts are often discussed. As a consequence, the majority of early work in the field was extensively focused on educational assessment, curriculum content and teaching strategies related to cultural values, language, and cognition (Ramirez & Castañeda, 1974; Pialorsi, 1974; valverde, 1978; Turner, 1982; Fishman & Keller, 1982; ovando & Collier, 1985). Although these questions clearly represent primary areas of concern, the traditional manner in which these areas were often addressed in the classroom did not necessarily guarantee that bicultural students would participate in a process of social empowerment or that they would develop their voice or become critically discursive with respect to the economic and sociopolitical conditions that shape their lives. A major reason for this phenomenon was the failure to change the structure of schools—a change required in order to alter the asymmetrical power relations that prevent the emancipatory development of both biculturalism and bilingualism. Despite the extensive work directed at altering the content and language of curriculum, bicultural educators were able to accomplish very little in transforming the traditional pedagogical structure of their classrooms. So although bilingual/ bicultural students may have acquired a stronger sense of cultural identity, self-esteem, and both language and cognitive proficiency, they were simultaneously socialized within the context of a technocratic and instrumental pedagogy that stifled the development of their critical cognitive skills and ignored important questions of human agency, voice, and empowerment. Nevertheless, twenty years ago, when Culture and Power in the Classroom was first written, there still remained vital public avenues for strengthening and fortifying bilingual education in the United States. However, following a series of successful conservative initiatives across the country, beginning with Proposition 227 in California, the end of the millennium also brought with it an end to widespread support and resources for bilingual education in public schools. The consequence was an uneven provision of bilingual services for children whose first language is not English and schools increasingly returning to the sink-or-swim approach that characterized the education of bilingual/bicultural students before the civil rights era. Hence, today it is more important than ever for teachers of children from working-class racialized communities to contend with issues of culture and power in more substantive ways. yet seldom are issues of power seriously addressed with respect to the structure of classroom life. Even when educators do make some effort to address the issues in their classrooms, often it is done in a “banking education” mode (Freire, 1970), which in content may be theoretically emancipatory, but in practice is pedagogically oppressive (Bartolomé, 1994). Thus, what is missing is a critical educational foundation on which bicultural educators can build a liberatory practice of bicultural education. In order for this need to be met, teachers must grapple with the basic structure of traditional American education that pushes toward an assimilative curriculum of standardized knowledge. The previous chapters have helped to illustrate the need for this structural change and to highlight specific issues that must be considered in generating such a transformation. In addition to confronting the different forms of cultural invasion through a commitment to a culturally democratic principle, there are specific theoretical constructs related to critical pedagogy that must also be incorporated in the process of establishing a critical foundation for bicultural education. From the standpoint of critical theory, education must hold an emancipatory purpose and acknowledge schooling as a political process. A key to this perspective is the recognition of the contextual relationship that exists between the cultural politics and economic forces in society and the structure of schools. Hence, critical pedagogy espouses a view of knowledge that is both historical and dialectical in nature. True to its critical 75

dimensions, it is built around a serious commitment to the union of theory and practice. Further, a theory of ideology and hegemony is closely linked to critical pedagogy’s concern with the nature of student resistance and a view of education’s counterhegemonic possibilities. And finally, critical pedagogy incorporates an understanding of critical discourse and the goal of conscientization as a consequence of the dialogical relationships that shape the structure of classroom life. The following discussion outlines the basic principles that inform a critical pedagogy, which can effectively serve as an important philosophical foundation for bicultural education. It is a foundation that is clearly based on an understanding of the link between culture and power and is firmly rooted in a political construct of cultural democracy and the commitment to student empowerment. It represents, in theory and practice, the critical dimensions that have often remained absent from the foundational groundwork necessary for preparing teachers to teach children from racialized communities.


Principles of Critical Pedagogy The theoretical foundation of any educational practice must be understood by educators in order to develop fully the ability to evaluate their practice, confront the contradictions, and transform their classrooms into democratic environments where they can genuinely address the actual needs of students, anchored in the conditions of their everyday life. Thus, to move toward a critical practice of bicultural education, it is most important to examine the fundamental theoretical dimensions of critical education and its merit with respect to the education of bicultural students. In the spirit of a critical theory, it is important to begin by stating that there is no recipe for the universal implementation and application of any form of critical pedagogy. In fact, it is precisely this distinguishing characteristic that constitutes its genuinely critical nature and therefore its emancipatory and democratic function. This quality is consistent with the philosophical principles espoused by major critical theorists over the years. Those theorists who have most influenced the critical theory movement include members of the Frankfurt School, Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci, and more recently Jurgen Habermas (1970). It goes without saying that much of the tenets espoused by early critical theorists emerged from the direct influence of the writings of Karl Marx and others writing within that tradition. Paulo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed, released in an English translation in 1970, proved to be a watershed in the evolution and coalescing of the field now loosely known as the critical pedagogy movement in the United States. Freire’s writings, along the works of progressive educators, such as Herb Kohl (1967, 1969), Jonathan Kozol (1967, 1972), Maxine Greene (1967, 1973), Ivan Illich (1971), and Myles Horton (Adams & Horton, 1975), had an important influence on a number of up-and-coming education scholars whose radical pedagogical ideas would help to lay the groundwork for the field in the early 1980s. Seminal works by Henry Giroux, Peter McLaren, Michael Apple, Roger Simon, and others provided the contours for a theoretical reading of culture and power within U.S. public schooling.1,2 The following set of philosophical principles, based on the work of these scholars, provides a foundation for forging a critical bicultural pedagogy.

Cultural Politics Above all things, a critical pedagogy encompasses an unwavering commitment to the empowerment of the powerless and the transformation of existing social inequities and injustices (McLaren, 1988). This commitment is clearly linked to a basic principle that we, as men and women, are called upon to struggle for: what Freire (1970), in concert with Marx, defines as our “vocation”—to be truly humanized social agents in the world. This spirit of social justice moves the critical educator to an irrevocable commitment to the oppressed and to the liberation of all people. Moreover, it comprises a commitment to a democratic and participatory form of education, in which teachers struggle with, rather than for the oppressed. Before continuing with this discussion of critical pedagogy, it seems useful to distinguish the concept of pedagogy from that of simply teaching. Roger Simon (1987) describes this distinction: Pedagogy is a more complex and extensive term than teaching, referring to the integration in practice of particular curriculum content and design, classroom strategies and techniques, a time and place for the practice of these . . . and evaluation purpose and methods. All of these aspects of educational practice come together in the realities of what happens in classrooms. Together they organize a view of how teachers’ work within an institutional context specifies a particular version of what knowledge is of most worth, what it means to know something, and how we might construct representations of ourselves, others, and our physical and social environment. In other words, talk about pedagogy is simultaneously talk about details of what students and others might do together and the cultural politics such practices support. To propose a pedagogy is to propose a political vision. In this perspective, we cannot talk about teaching practices without talking about politics. (p. 371)

In light of this definition, a major task of pedagogy is to expose and challenge the roles that schools play in the political and cultural life of students. of particular importance is a critical analysis and investigation into the manner that traditional theories and practices of American schools thwart or support the participation of working-class racialized students. Hence, schools must be seen critically as both sorting mechanisms where select groups of students are entitled and privileged, while others are not, and as important public arenas for 77

individual and community empowerment (McLaren, 1988). Fundamental to critical pedagogy is the assumption that teachers comprehend the role schooling plays in uniting knowledge and power, and how these dynamics relate to the development of critical thought and socially active individuals. Unlike traditional educational perspectives that view schools as neutral and apolitical in nature, a critical theoretical perspective views power, politics, history, and culture as intimately and ideologically linked with any theory of education. McLaren (1988) writes in Life in Schools: “Schools have always functioned in ways that rationalize the knowledge industry into class-divided tiers; that reproduce inequality, racism, and sexism; and that fragment democratic social relations through an emphasis on competitiveness and ethnocentrism” (pp. 160–161). Critical pedagogy incorporates Freire’s (1970) assertion that the form and content of knowledge, as well as the social practices through which it is appropriated, have to be seen as an ongoing struggle over what counts as legitimate culture and forms of empowerment. In response, critical pedagogy seeks to address the concept of cultural politics by both legitimizing and challenging experiences and perceptions shaped by the histories and socioeconomic realities that give meaning to the everyday lives of students and their constructions of what is perceived as truth (Darder, Baltodano, & Torres 2002/2009).

Economics Critical pedagogy fiercely challenges the prevalent assumption that American schools reflect a broad western humanistic tradition for individual and social empowerment. In fact, it contends that, in truth, schools often work against the interests of those students who are most vulnerable and most in need of educational opportunities. Consequently, the issue of economics is considered vital to developing a critical understanding of how school curriculum, knowledge, and policy are organized around the inequity of competing interests within the social order—interests that are informed by the corporate marketplace and the ever-changing waves of the national economy. Critical theorists maintain a view of schooling as a cultural and historical process in which select groups are positioned within asymmetrical relations of power on the basis of class, skin color, gender, sexuality, physical ability, and so on, rather than a process that is value free and neutral. Its political dimensions are sharply defined by and operate with the intent to reproduce the values and privileges of the dominant ruling class. McLaren (1988) speaks to this question: “Critical theorists challenge the often uncontested relationship between school and society, unmasking mainstream pedagogy’s claim that it purveys equal opportunity and provides access to egalitarian democracy and critical thinking. Critical scholars reject the claim that schooling constitutes an apolitical and value-neutral process” (p. 163). As discussed earlier, nowhere is this form of inequity so clearly evident as in the current system of meritocracy utilized in most American schools—a system that, in order to succeed, requires students to be versed in the dominant cultural versions of truth and knowledge. Those who succeed are considered to possess the individual merit that consequently also makes them privilege to the economic goods that success can bring in the United States. Those who fail are considered to lack the individual intelligence, maturity, or drive to succeed. Seldom acknowledged in this traditional analysis of student success or failure are the asymmetrical power relations at work, determined by cultural and economic forces that grant privilege and opportunities to students from the dominant class, thus reproducing the mainstream material and social arrangements that sustain capitalist accumulation. Those unable to fulfill their designated roles within this process of accumulation are marginalized and deemed disposable, within schools and society.

Historicity of Knowledge Critical pedagogy is strongly influenced by the Frankfurt School’s ideas tied to the historicity of knowledge. True to this underlying principle, the theory calls for the examination of schools within their social practices but also their historical realities. Herein lies a counterlogic to the positivist, ahistorical, and depoliticizing analysis of schooling that searches for inner histories within a narrow and limiting definition of history. In response, Giroux (1983) argues that 78

[the] given social order is not simply found in modes of interpretation that view history as a natural evolving process or ideologies distributed through the culture industry. It is also found in the material reality of those needs and wants that bear the inscription of history. That is, history is to be found as “second nature” in those concepts and views of the world that make the most dominating aspect of the social order appear to be immune from historical sociopolitical development. Those aspects of reality that rest on an appeal to the universal and invariant often slip from historical consciousness and become embedded within those historically specific needs and desires that link individuals to the logic of conformity and domination. (p. 38)

Critical educational theorists strongly support the view that the study of history, which has deteriorated at all levels of schooling, must be elevated to a position of critical influence. However, instead of orienting the curriculum to a patriotic purpose that stresses the role of great men in shaping our contemporary world, or featuring events whose meaning is usually lost to students, teachers should assist students in understanding history as a social process—a process that incorporates both the participation of social movements and the state, as well as the economic and cultural forces acting as significant determinants in the society. Further, since historical events often conceal more than they reveal, a critical historical understanding is also closely predicated on deconstructing events, texts, and images of the past. Within this context, the meaning of history is to be found not only in what is included in mainstream explanations, but also in what is excluded (Aronowitz & Giroux, 1985). Important to this discussion is the manner in which the dominant school culture functions to support the interests and values of the dominant society while marginalizing and invalidating knowledge forms and experiences that are significant to oppressed groups. This function is best illustrated in the ways that curriculum often blatantly ignores the histories of women, people of color, and the working classes. Freire (1970) speaks to the impact of this historical neglect of oppressed groups: “There is no historical reality which is not human. There is no history without men [and women], and no history for men [and women]; there is only history of men [and women], made by men and [and women] . . . in turn making them. It is when the majorities are denied their right to participate in history as subjects that they become dominated and alienated” (p. 125). With this in mind, a critical pedagogical approach must integrate students’ own histories by delving into their own biographies and systems of meaning. But this can only happen when conditions are created in the classroom for students’ voices to be heard and where they can name and authenticate their own experiences. This is vital to the learning process, for not until students can “become aware of the dignity of their own perceptions and histories [can they] make a leap to the theoretical and begin to examine the truth value of their meanings and perceptions, particularly as they relate to the dominant rationality” (Giroux, 1983, p. 203). Hence, unlike traditional discourses on education, a critical pedagogy opposes the positivist emphasis on historical continuities and linear development. In its place is found a mode of analysis that stresses the breaks, discontinuities, and tensions in history, all of which become valuable in that they highlight the centrality of human agency and struggle while revealing the gap between society as it presently exists and society as it might be (Giroux, 1983). Also significant to this understanding, as Marx and later Freire contended, is that part of the intent of an emancipatory education is for both teachers and students to embrace themselves as historical subjects, capable of beginning to transform themselves in the now rather than waiting for some illusive fixed historical moment in the future (Allman, 2007).

Dialectical Theory Unlike traditional theories of education that seek certainty and the technical control of knowledge and power, critical education theory posits a dialectical notion of knowledge that seeks to uncover the connections between objective knowledge and the norms, values, and structural relationships of the wider society. As such, it provides students with a mode of engagement that permits them to examine the underlying political, social, and economic conditions which shape their lives and their communities. A dialectical view3 begins with the fact of human existence and the contradictions and disjunctions that, in part, shape it and make problematic its meaning in the world. It functions to assist students to analyze their world; to become aware of the limitations that prevent them from changing the world; and, finally, to help them collectively struggle to transform that world. McLaren (1988) describes this process: Critical [pedagogy] begin[s] with the premise that men and women are essentially unfree and inhabit a world rife with contradictions and asymmetries of power and privilege. The critical educator endorses theories that are, first and foremost, dialectical: that is, theories which


recognize the problems of society as more than simply isolated events of individuals or deficiencies in the social structure. Rather, these problems are part of the interactive context between the individual and society. (p. 166)

Dialectical thought seeks out these social contradictions and sets up a process of open and thoughtful questioning that requires reflection to ensue back and forth between the parts and the whole, the object and the subject, knowledge and human action, process and product, so that further contradictions may be discovered. As these contradictions and their inherent tensions are revealed, new constructive forms of thinking and action are necessary to transcend the original state. The complement of elements is dynamic rather than absolute, fixed, or static, and results in a form of creative tension rather than a state of polarization. Thus, within a dialectic, the elements are regarded as mutually constitutive rather than separate and distinct (McLaren, 1988). Breaking free from smothering positivist dichotomies is epistemologically what is at the heart of dialectical thought. Harmony does not exist without discord; strength does not exist without weakness; subject does not exist without object; life does not exist without death. The meaning of seemingly opposites is enlivened and rich as long as the dialectical tension inherent in their opposition remains intact in our reading of the world. Therefore, significant to a dialectical understanding of education is a view of schools as sites of both oppression and empowerment. Here, the traditional view of schools as neutral, value-free sites that provide students with the necessary skills and attitudes for becoming good and responsible citizens in society is rejected. Instead, this view argues for a partisan perspective that is fundamentally committed to a struggle for the transformation of society based on the principles of emancipatory education—principles that are realized only through nonexploitative relations and social justice. Within this context, the contradictions that result within undemocratic forms of relationships are perceived as a multitude of questions that must be explored with students to reveal how they are linked to class, gender, and racialized interests (McLaren, 1988). In this way, dialectical thought reveals the power of human activity and human knowledge as both a product of and force in the shaping of social reality. Further, it argues that there are links among knowledge, power, and domination. Therefore, it recognizes that some knowledge is false and that the ultimate purpose of a dialectical critique is a critical mindfulness in the interest of social change. It is important to note that, consequently, critical thought can be exercised without falling into the ideological trap of relativism, in which the notion of critique is negated by the assumption that all ideas should be considered equally. In contrast, Giroux (1981), in Ideology, Culture, and the Process of Schooling, argues that the dialectic must incorporate “an historical sensibility in the interest of liberating human beings not only from those traditions that legitimate oppressive institutional arrangements, but also from their own history, i.e., that which society has made of them. This is the critical point that links praxis and historical consciousness” (p. 118). Critical theorists argue that a theory of dialectical critique is what is needed to unravel the source, mechanisms, and elements that constitute the fabric of school culture. Based on Adorno’s (1973) notion of negative dialectics, drawn from Marx, dialectical critique begins with a rejection of traditional representations of reality. The underlying assumption is that critical reflection is formed out of the principles of negativity, contradiction, and mediation. This calls for a thorough interrogation of all universal “truths” and social practices that go unquestioned in schools because they are concealed in an absolute guise of objectivity and neutrality (Giroux, 1983). An important emphasis here is that students are encouraged to engage the world within its complexity and fullness in order to reveal the possibilities of new ways of constructing thought and action beyond how they currently exist. Rooted in a dialectical view of knowledge, critical pedagogy supports dynamic interactive elements rather than participation in the formation of absolute dichotomies or rigid polarizations of thought or practice. By so doing, it supports a supple and fluid view of humans and nature that is relational; an objectivity and subjectivity that is interconnected and interactive; and a coexistent understanding of theory and practice. Most importantly, this perspective affirms the power of human activity and human knowledge as both a product and a force in the shaping of the world, whether it is in the interest of domination or the struggle for liberation.

Praxis: The Alliance of Theory and Practice Critical educational theory, in the tradition of Marx’s critical revolutionary praxis, encompasses a practical 80

intent that is fundamentally centered on the transformation of the world. It is this basic interest in the human condition—never seen as separate from the development and liberation of self-consciousness in individuals actively involved with determining their own destiny—that is at the center of a critical pedagogy. Unlike the external determinism, pragmatism, and instrumental or technical application of theory so prevalent in traditional American educational discourses, praxis is conceived as self-creating and self-generating free human action. Freire (1970) makes reference to this notion of praxis: The difference between animals—who . . . cannot create products detached from themselves— and men [and women]—who through their action upon the world create the realm of culture and history—is that only the latter are beings of praxis. . . . It is as transforming and creating beings that men [and women], in their permanent relations with reality, produce (pp. 90–91). Within this view of human beings, all human activity consists of action and reflection, or praxis. And as praxis, all human activity requires theory to illuminate it. This interface between theory and practice occurs, for example, at the point where oppressed groups come together and raise fundamental questions of how they might assist one another, and how—through such an exchange of views—an action might emerge in which all might benefit. But it is crucial to note, once again, that this does not suggest that all views are to be given equal weight, for such a view could easily degenerate into relativistic nonsense. Instead, what it suggests is that the human subject must be integrated into the process of theorizing, and that truth claims of specific theoretical perspectives must be analyzed and mediated through dialogue and democratic social relations. Central, then, to this interface of theory and practice is the fundamental notion of critique (Giroux, 1983). From the standpoint of a critical pedagogical perspective, we can further examine the dialectical relationship between theory and practice with respect to concrete and theoretical contexts. In the concrete context, students can be perceived as subjects and objects in a dialectical relationship with the world. In the theoretical context, they play the role of cognitive subjects of the subject–object relationship that occurs in the concrete moment. In this way, they are able to return to a place where they can better react as subjects against an oppressive reality. This represents a vital point in the unity between theory and practice (Freire, 1985). Further, it is only as beings of praxis—as students accept their concrete situation as a challenging condition— that they are able to change its meaning by their action. This is why Freire (1985) argues that a true praxis is impossible in the undialectical vacuum where we are driven by a subject–object dichotomy. For within the context of such a dichotomy, both theory and practice lose their power to transform reality. Cut off from practice, theory becomes simple verbalism. Separated from theory, practice is nothing but blind activism. Thus, authentic praxis can only occur where there exists a dialectical alliance between theory and practice. However, it is important to note that whereas critical pedagogy incorporates an alliance between theory and practice in education, this does not mean theory and practice—although interconnected at the point of experience—are considered identical in character. Rather, to the contrary, they represent distinct analytical moments and should not collapse into each other (Horkheimer, 1972). Giroux (1983) explains: Theory must be celebrated for its truth content, not for the methodological refinements it employs. . . . Theory is informed by practice; but its real value lies in its ability to provide the reflexivity needed to interpret the concrete experience. . . . Theory can never be reduced to practice, because the specificity of practice has its own center of theoretical gravity, and cannot be reduced to a predefined formula. That is, the specificity of practice cannot be abstracted from the complex forces, struggles, and mediations that give each situation a unique defining quality. Theory can help us understand this quality, but cannot reduce it to the logic of a mathematical formula. . . . Experience and concrete studies do not speak for themselves, and . . . will tell us very little if the theoretical framework we use to interpret them lacks depth and critical rigor. (pp. 99–100)

Ideology Critical educational theorists conceive of ideology as the framework of thought that is used in society to give order and meaning to the social and political world (Hall, 1981). The notion of ideology cannot be ignored within the context of a critical pedagogy, for it defines for students the perceptual field from which to make sense of the world. As described earlier, ideology not only structures our perceptions but also gives meaning and direction to all we experience. McLaren (1988) defines ideology as the production and representation of ideas, values, and beliefs and the manner in which they are expressed and lived out by both individuals and groups. . . . Ideology refers to the production of sense and meaning. It can be described as a way of viewing the world, a complex of ideas, various types of social practices, rituals, and representations that are accepted as natural and as common sense. It is the result of the intersection of meaning and power in the social world. (p. 176)


Utilizing the Frankfurt School’s notion of depth psychology, critical educational theorists see ideology as existing in the depth of the individual’s psychological structure of needs. This supports the view that critical educators must take into account students’ inner histories and experiences; for these are central to questions of subjectivity, as they are constructed by individual needs, drives, passions, and intelligence, as well as by the changing political, economic, and social landscapes of the wider society. But further, ideology also exists in the realm of common sense. Here, common sense refers to the level of everyday consciousness with its many forms of unexamined assumptions, moral codes, contradictions, and partial truths (Giroux, 1981). Essential to a critical theory of education is the notion that ideology provides individuals with the means for critique. This occurs through its own structure of thought processes and practical activities. Hence, ideology becomes a critical pedagogical tool when it is used to interrogate the relationship between the dominant school culture and the contradictory lived experiences that mediate the reality of school life. Within this context, Giroux (1983) argues that three important distinctions provide the foundation for a theory of ideology and classroom practice: First, a distinction must be made between theoretical and practical ideologies. . . . Theoretical ideologies refer to the beliefs and values embedded in the categories that teachers and students use to shape and interpret the pedagogical process, while practical ideologies refer to the messages and norms embedded in classroom social relations and practices. Second, a distinction must be made between discourse and lived experience as instances of ideology and as the material grounding of ideology as they are embedded in school texts, films, and other cultural artifacts that make up visual and aural media. Third, these ideological elements gain part of their significance only as they are viewed in their articulation with the broader relations of society. (p. 67)

one implication for classroom practice, to be drawn from a theory of ideology, is that it provides teachers with a context to examine how their own views about knowledge, human nature, values, and society are mediated through the commonsense assumptions they use to structure classroom experiences. Here, the concept of ideology provides a starting point for asking questions about the social and political interests and values that inform many of the pedagogical assumptions teachers take for granted in their work. In their quest for democratic schooling, educators must evaluate critically their assumptions about learning, achievement, teacher-student relations, objectivity, and school authority. Further, critical educational theorists contend that ideology as critique must also be used to investigate classroom relations that freeze the spirit of critical inquiry among students. These pedagogical practices must be measured against the potential to foster, rather than hamper, intellectual growth and social inquiry. This becomes particularly important for those students who experience daily humiliation and a sense of powerlessness due to the fact that their own lived experiences and cultural histories are in conflict with the dominant school culture (Giroux, 1983). Ideology as critique is also an essential tool that can be used by teachers to understand how the dominant culture becomes embedded in the hidden curriculum. Understanding how curriculum materials and other artifacts produce meaning can assist teachers in decoding the messages inscribed in both form and content. This is particularly significant in light of the results garnered by content analysis studies (e.g., Pokewitz, 1978; Anyon, 1979, 1980) that consistently reveal the prominence of dominant cultural values reflected in the majority of textbooks and curricula utilized in American schools. Another significant factor in producing self-awareness in teachers is the ability to decode and critique the ideologies inscribed in the form of structuring principles behind the presentation of images in curriculum materials. The significant silences of a text can be uncovered, as teachers learn to identify the ideological messages in texts that focus on individuals to the exclusion of collective action, that juxtapose high culture and structures that reproduce poverty and exploitation, or that use forms of discourse that do not promote critical engagement by students (Giroux, 1983). Critical educational theorists, thus, argue for a view of the hidden curriculum that encompasses all the ideological instances of the schooling process that silence students and work, to both materially and relationally reproduce the dominant society’s assumptions and practices. Such a focus is important because it shifts the emphasis away from a preoccupation with reproducing the status quo to a primary concern for cultural engagement and social action with and among those who are silenced and disenfranchised.



Critical pedagogy incorporates Gramsci’s (1971) view that educators need to understand how the dominant worldview and its social practices are produced throughout society in order to shatter the mystification of the existing power relationships and social arrangements that sustain them. Through his theory of hegemony, Gramsci argues that there exists a powerful interconnection between politics, cultural ideology, and pedagogy. Hegemony, as previously discussed, is systematically carried out through the moral and intellectual leadership of a dominant society over subordinate groups. This form of societal control is achieved not through physically coercive means nor arbitrary rules or regulations, but rather through winning the consent of the subordinated to the authority of the dominant class. The dominant society does not have to impose hegemony by force, because the oppressed actively subscribe to many of the values and objectives of the dominant class without being aware of the source of those values or the interests that inform them. Through hegemonic control, the dominant culture is able to exert domination over women, racialized populations, and members of the working class. This process occurs whenever relations of power established at the institutional level are systematically asymmetrical—that is, when they are unequal and therefore grant power and privilege to some groups over others. Given this view, teachers practice hegemony when they fail to teach students how to question the prevailing social attitudes, values, and social practices of the dominant society in a sustained, critical manner. Thus, the concrete challenge for teachers is to recognize, critique, and attempt to transform those undemocratic and oppressive features of hegemonic control that shape classroom relationships in ways that may not be readily apparent (McLaren, 1985). Critical educators recognize that hegemony, in whatever form it manifests in society, must be fought for constantly in order to maintain the status quo. This, however difficult, is most successfully accomplished through various forms of cooptational forces constantly at work in the classroom and the society at large. But despite this oppressive quality, Giroux (1981) points to another significant aspect for critical educators. He argues that a theory of hegemony can also serve as an important pedagogical tool for understanding both the prevailing modes of domination and the ensuing contradictions and tensions that exist within such modes of control. In this way, hegemony functions as a theoretical basis for helping teachers to understand how the seeds of domination are produced and also how they may be overcome through various forms of resistance, critique, and social action.

Resistance and Counterhegemony Critical pedagogy incorporates a theory of resistance in order to understand better the complex reasons why many students from subordinate groups consistently fail in the educational system, and how this understanding may be used to restructure classroom practices and relationships as a form of counterhegemony: “an alternative public sphere that is clearly guided by emancipatory interests.” (Giroux & McLaren, 1987, p. 64) Critical educators adhere to the philosophical principle that all people have the capacity to make meaning of their lives and to resist oppression. But they also recognize that the capacity to resist and understand is limited and influenced by issues of class, race, gender, sexuality, and physical ability. People will use whatever means at hand or whatever power they can employ to meet their needs and assert their humanity. But, unfortunately, since the solutions they often select arise from the ascribed beliefs and values of the dominant society, they may in fact lead themselves and others deeper into forms of domination and oppression (Weiler, 1988; Willis, 1977). Giroux (1983) has addressed extensively this notion of resistance by suggesting that a construct of resistance points to a number of assumptions and concerns generally unexamined by traditional views of schooling: First, it celebrates a dialectical notion of human agency that rightly portrays domination as neither a static process nor one that is ever complete. . . . [similarly] the oppressed are not viewed as being simply passive. [It] points to the need to understand more thoroughly [how] people mediate and respond to the interface between their own lived experiences and the structures of domination. . . . Secondly, resistance adds . . . depth to Foucault’s (1977) notion that power works so as to be exercised on and by people within different contexts that structure interacting relations of dominance and autonomy. . . . Power is never unidimensional. . . . Finally, inherent in the notion of resistance is an expressed hope, an element of transcendence, for radical transformation. (p. 108)

Central to a critical theory of resistance is the concern with uncovering the degree to which a student’s oppositional act speaks to a form of refusal that expresses the need to struggle against elements of 83

dehumanization. From this context, an understanding of resistance serves a critical function in analyzing behavior based on the specific historical and relational conditions from which it develops and the consequences that ensue. This is vital to the process of critical pedagogy, for without this process of critical inquiry resistance could easily be allowed to become a category indiscriminately assigned to all forms of student oppositional behavior. It is the notion of emancipatory interests that must be central to determining when oppositional behavior constitutes a moment of resistance. The pedagogical value of resistance is clearly linked to notions of structure and human agency and the concept of culture and self-formation, which situates these in a new problematic for understanding the process of schooling. Giroux (1983) speaks to this aspect of resistance: It rejects a notion that schools are simply instructional sites, and in so doing, it not only politicizes the notion of culture [and ideology], but also points to the need to analyze school culture within the shifting terrain of struggle and contestation. Educational knowledge, values, and social relations are now placed within the context of lived antagonistic relations, and the need to be examined as they are played out within the dominant and subordinate cultures that characterize school life. (p. 111)

Hence, elements of resistance are emphasized within a critical educational perspective in an effort to construct different sets of lived experiences—experiences in which students can find a voice and maintain and extend the affirming aspects of their own social and historical realities. Freire and Macedo (1987) comment on the importance of this function of resistance for the critical educator: Understanding the oppressed’s reality, as reflected in the various forms of cultural production—language, music, art—leads to a better comprehension of the cultural expression through which people articulate their rebelliousness against the dominant. These cultural expressions [of resistance] also represent the level of possible struggle against oppression . . . Any radical educator must first understand fully the dynamics of resistance on the part of learners . . . to better understand the discourse of resistance, to provide pedagogical structures that will enable students to emancipate themselves. (pp. 137–138)

At this point, it is necessary to recall again that, at times, despite the well-intentioned actions of critical educators, there are students whose oppositional behavior is directed toward holding firm to their hegemonic views of the world. Brian Fay (1987) explains that, having internalized the values, beliefs, and even worldview of the dominant class, these students resist seeing themselves as oppressed, and so they willingly cooperate with those who oppress them by maintaining social practices that perpetuate their subordinate position. Freire (1970) identifies this phenomenon as the initial stage of emancipation, where the oppressed, instead of striving for liberation, tend themselves to become oppressors. The very structure of their thought has been conditioned by the contradictions of the concrete, existential situation by which they were shaped. . . . This phenomenon derives from the fact that the oppressed, at a certain moment of their experience, adopt an attitude of adhesion to the oppressor. . . . Their perception of themselves as oppressed is impaired by their submersion in the reality of oppression. . . . The oppressed find in the oppressor their model. (pp. 29–30)

Thus, in light of the forms that resistance takes in the lives of oppressed students, the starting point of any counterhegemonic pedagogy must be the world of these students, from the standpoint both of their oppression and their opposition. Essential to this process is the struggle for counterhegemony and a movement toward more democratic institutional relationships and alternative value systems that are based on a critical understanding of the world and an overriding commitment to the emancipatory nature of human beings.

Critical Discourse An understanding of the power dynamics that embody the notion of discourse is essential to understanding the purpose that underlies critical pedagogy. For what critical pedagogy represents, in actuality, is an effort to develop a critical discourse in the face of a dominant discourse that has worked systematically to silence the voices of marginalized populations in the United States. Discourse, here, is defined as a system of discursive practices that reflect the values, beliefs, ideology, language, and economic constraints found within a particular set of inscribed power relations. As such, discursive practices refer to the rules by which discourses are formed, and thus determine what can be spoken and what must remain unspoken; who can speak with authority and who must listen in silence. Thus, discourses and discursive practices influence how we live out our lives and how we interact with others. They shape our subjective experiences because it is primarily through language and discourse that social reality is 84

given meaning (McLaren, 1988). Critical educational theorists argue that, because knowledge is socially constructed, culturally mediated, and historically situated, dominant discourses function to determine what is relegated to arenas of truth and relevancy at any given moment in time. Thus, they hold a view of truth as relational, in that statements considered true are seen as arising within a particular context, based on the power relations that are at work in society, a discipline of study, or educational institution. This helps to explain why only those discourses that accommodate to the power relations prescribed by the dominant discourse are generally acknowledged, and how these are clearly linked to the question of what they produce and in whose interest they function (Freire, 1985). Consequently, critical discourse must focus on those interests and assumptions that inform the generation of knowledge itself. But true to its emancipatory principles, it must also be self-critical and deconstructive of dominant discourses the moment they are ready to solidify into hegemonic knowledge. In this way, critical pedagogy can work to replace the “authoritarian discourse of imposition and recitation with a voice capable of speaking one’s own terms, a voice capable of listening, retelling, and challenging the very grounds of knowledge and power” (Freire & Macedo, 1987, p. 20). Critical pedagogy relegates to critical reason the possibility of establishing the conditions of discourse for the raising and reconciling of controversial claims tied to knowledge and power. Here, critical reason stands for liberation from all regulations of social intercourse and interactions that suppress the debatability of truth (Forester, 1987). Many critical theorists turn to Habermas’s (1970) theory of practical discourse and the ideal speech situation for a rational standard by which to judge existing discourses. Such a standard suggests that a system of communication can only be free from both internal and external constraints when all participants to a discourse possess equal opportunity to select and use speech acts. John Forester (1987) describes the process as having the following four requirements for all potential participants: 1. the same chance to employ communication speech acts, that is, to initiate and perpetuate the discourse. 2. the same chance to employ representative speech acts to express attitudes, feelings, and intentions. 3. equal chance to use regulative speech acts; they must be equally able to command and oppose, permit, and forbid arguments. They must also have equal opportunity to both make and accept promises and provide and call for justifications. . . . 4. equal opportunity to provide interpretations and explanations and also to problematize any validity claims so that in the long run no one view is exempt from consideration and criticism. (pp. 186–188) what this concept suggests to critical educational theorists is that respecting different discourses and putting into practice a theory committed to the plurality of voices will require nothing short of political and social transformation. Given this reality, critical discourse as a transformative act must assume an active and decisive participation, relative to what is produced and for whom. Freire and Macedo (1987) address this idea through the reinvention of power: The reinvention of power that passes through the reinvention of production would entail the reinvention of culture within which environments would be created to incorporate, in a participatory way, all of those discourses that are presently suffocated by the dominant discourse. [This] legitimation of these different discourses would authenticate the plurality of voices in the reconstruction of a truly democratic society. (p. 55)

Critical pedagogy addresses this transformative requirement through a discourse that rigorously unites the language of critique with the language of possibility. Here, Giroux (1985) calls for a process of schooling in which educators as transformative intellectuals recognize their ability to transform critically the world. In so doing, educators can carry out a counterhegemonic project as they work to challenge economic, political, and social injustices, both within and outside schools. Teachers can work to create the conditions that give students an active voice in their learning and to support their development as social agents who have the knowledge and courage to struggle for a discourse of hope. At the same time, they must also struggle to overcome the discourse of despair that is so often found in the lives of both teachers and students from working-class bicultural communities.


Dialogue and Conscientization Critical theorists unwaveringly support the Freirian notion of dialogue as an emancipatory educational process that is, above all, dedicated to the empowerment of students through disconfirming the dominant ideology of traditional educational discourses and illuminating the freedom of students to act on their world. For critical educators, dialogue is never perceived as a mere technique to be utilized for appropriating students’ affections or obedience. Instead, it is perceived as an educational strategy committed to the development of critical consciousness through a process of conscientization. In A Pedagogy for Liberation (Shor & Freire, 1987), Freire contends dialogue must be understood as something taking part in the historical nature of human beings. It is part of our historical process in becoming human beings. . . . Dialogue is a moment where human beings meet to reflect on their reality as they make and remake it. . . . Through dialogue, reflecting together on what we know and don’t know, we can act critically to transform reality (pp. 98–99). This dialogical emphasis represents the basis for a critical pedagogical structure in which dialogue and analysis serve as the foundation for reflection and action. It is an educational strategy that clearly supports the principles of what Freire (1970) calls a problem-posing educational approach: an approach in which the relationship of students and teachers is, without question, dialogical—students learn from teachers; teachers must also learn from students. The content of this form of education takes into account the concrete lived experiences of the students themselves, as the historical character of their experiences are explored through questions that often begin, “How did we come to be as we are?” and “How can we change?” In this way, critical educators encourage the free and uncoerced exchange of ideas and experiences. They demonstrate a caring for their students and provide them with emotional support to help them overcome their feelings of inadequacy and guilt as they become critics of the social world they inhabit (Fay, 1987). what dialogue, then, represents is a human phenomenon in which students, with the guidance of the teacher, move into a discovery of themselves as social agents. It is through their encounter with reality that they are supported and yet challenged to assess their world critically and to unmask the central contradictions of their existence. And, in so doing, by way of praxis—the authentic union of their action and reflection—they enter into a process of conscientization. For Freire (Shor & Freire, 1987), conscientization refers to the process by which students—not as recipients of knowledge, but as knowing subjects— achieve a deepening awareness of the sociopolitical and economic realities that shape their lives and their capacity to re-create them. This implies the critical insertion of a conscientized individual into a demythologized reality. It is this state of conscientization that assists students to transform their apathy—formerly nourished by their disempowerment—into the denunciation of the previous oppressive reality and their annunciation into a viable, transformed existence. Further, conscientization is conceived as a recurrent, regenerating process that is utilized for constant clarification of what remains hidden within, while students continue to move into the world and enter into dialogue anew. It is also within the power of this collective dialogical process that the intimacy necessary for the establishment of solidarity and thus collective action can be generated. Within the emancipatory experience of dialogue, students can break the estrangements of their everyday world and enter into a solidarity that is rooted in what Freire calls an “armed love.” In a similar vein, Kincheloe (2008b) contends that Critical pedagogy believes that nothing is impossible when we work in solidarity and with love, respect, and justice as our guiding lights. Indeed the great Brazilian critical educator, Paulo Freire, always maintained that education has as much to do with the teachable heart as it does the teachable mind. Love is the basis of an education that seeks justice, equality, and genius. . .. Critical pedagogy uses [dialogue] to increase our capacity to love, to bring the power of love to our everyday lives and social institutions, to rethink reason in a humane and interconnected manner. (p. 9)


Epistemological Concerns Darder, Baltodano, and Torres (2002/2009), in The Critical Pedagogy Reader, argue that although the critical principles posited by critical education scholars offer a strong foundation for liberatory education, there are several other contemporary epistemological questions that must be incorporated into the discussion. This is particularly salient to establishing a foundation for a critical bicultural pedagogy if it is to sustain its emancipatory potential for all students, particularly working-class students who enter the classroom with a long historical legacy of gendered and racialized inequalities. The following is a brief discussion of these questions, which a number of prominent scholars have addressed in their work over the last twenty years.

Decolonizing Sexual Politics Significant critiques of critical pedagogy were initially issued by such notable feminist scholars in education as Elizabeth Ellsworth (1989), Carmen Luke & Jennifer Gore (1992), Patti Lather (1991), and Magda Lewis (1992, 1993). These feminist critical scholars and educators called for the interrogation of the missing discourse of power and privilege associated with deep patriarchal tenets of Western philosophical thought that undergirds critical theory. Namely, feminist views challenged masculine notions of technocratic rationality, instrumentalism, efficiency, objectivity, and a privileging of the cognitive domain in the production of knowledge—values considered to permeate the hierarchical structures and pedagogical relationships within schools and society. Feminist educators argue that in order to create a genuinely emancipatory classroom environment, the specific conditions and struggles that give rise to educational issues tied to gender and sexuality have to be integrated into the curriculum and anchored upon the lived experiences and knowledge forms of female and queer students. As such, critical educators are called to challenge the ideologies, structures, and practices of patriarchy and homophobia that are reenacted daily within traditional public school education. Additionally, in an effort to challenge what some believe is the privileging of reason as the ultimate sphere upon which knowledge is constructed, critical feminist educators passionately argue for the inclusion of personal biography, narratives, a rethinking of authority, and an explicit engagement with the historical and political location of the knowing subject. These are all epistemological aspects that can support critical educators in both questioning patriarchy and reconstructing the gender politics that obstruct the participation of working-class female students, as full and equal contributing members within the classroom and society. In the education of bicultural students, these issues are just as important as they are for Euroamerican students (hooks, 2000a). As is witnessed in the works of Black, Chicana, and Asian feminists and other feminists of color, the terrain of gender and sexuality can take similar and divergent cultural twists within different racialized communities (Moraga & Anzaldua, 1981; hooks 1981, 2000b; Minhha, 1989; Mohanty, Russo, & Torres, 1991; Anzaldua, 1995) This requires the willingness of teachers to culturally expand their critical lens when working to make sense of questions of gender and sexuality that arise in their practice with students, their parents, and their community. Colonizing values, attitudes, and practices associated with ethnocentric perceptions of skin color, gender, the body, and sexuality can easily betray well-meaning educators, in their pedagogical perceptions of female and queer students of color. This is particularly the case when teachers essentialize the needs of bicultural students and inadvertently objectify them in the name of “helping.” Again one of the primary issues here is the manner in which the teacher can employ the principles of ideology critique, resistance, and dialogue to critically affirm, question, and challenge bicultural students’ perceptions of the world, of themselves, and one another, as they give voice to these areas of their lives that have typically been systematically silenced in public schools.

Teaching in the Borderlands


Similarly, deep concerns related to culture and power were raised among scholars of color intimately involved in the struggle against racialized inequalities within schools and society. Here, one of the “obvious” concerns was the fact that most of the early critical education scholars in the field were “white.” At moments in the early history of critical pedagogy, this factor became a source of much contention. In an effort to recenter the discourse, critical education scholars of color, in time, built both metaphorically and concretely on the wellgrooved concept of the borderlands asserted by Gloria Anzaldua (1999). These scholars insisted that questions of class/race/gender/sexuality be given equal weight in critical analysis of schooling in the United States. Hence, questions were raised about the failure of critical pedagogy to explicitly treat those questions important to teaching in the borderlands, namely issues of race, culture, and indigeniety as central themes. Moreover, there were conflicts about the lack of opportunities to contribute cultural knowledge and new epistemological possibilities that were anchored within specific historical experiences of racialized and colonized populations themselves. when such concerns were raised, there was the danger of being silenced by accusations of “essentialism,” particularly when the concerns voiced brushed against the views of leading figures in the field. As an outcome, critical educators from the borderlands called for ongoing critical engagement with those tensions associated with the expression of voice, agency, and cultural and linguistics differences, when working with students across dominant–subordinate cultural communities. over the last twenty years, critical educators have begun to theorize more substantively the inextricable relationships among power, culture, and language and their impact on the schooling of bilingual/bicultural students (Darder, 1991; Walsh, 1991; Freire & Macedo, 1995; Foster, 1995; Delpit, 1995; Frederickson, 1995; Diaz-Soto, 1997; Nieto, 2002/2010). The emphasis of this scholarship was not only placed on the production of different readings of culture, history, and society, but also on the political empowerment of those racialized populations who existed historically at the margins of U.S. mainstream life. The result was the emergence of a variety of culturally and racially defined strands of critical pedagogy. Prominent discourses emerged in the field that included, for example, a critical race theory (CRT) of education (Ladson-Billings & Tate, 1995; Tate, 1966; Parker, Deyhle, & Villenas, 1999; Yosso, 2005; Leonardo, 2005; Dixson & Rousseau, 2006) that made central the issue of race in pedagogical discussions, as well as indigenous examinations of schooling, culture, and language (Cajete, 1994; Hornberger, 1997; Klug & Whitfield, 2002; McCarty, 2002; Gallegos, Villenas, & Braybo, 2003; Grande, 2004); and ecopedagogical reinterpretations of emancipatory schooling and society (Ahlberg, 1998; Bowers, 2001, 2003; Andrzejewski, Baltodano, & Symcox, 2009; Kahn, 2010; Miller, Vandome, & McBrewster, 2010). These important contributions to the field serve as significant examples of organic resistance to the universalizing of critical pedagogy in ways that could potentially reproduce racism and cultural invasion. Hence, critical scholars from a variety of cultural traditions have challenged the Western predispositions toward orthodoxy in the field, reinforcing Freire’s persistent assertion that critical pedagogical principles must always remain open to reinvention. As such, teachers of bicultural students must remain ever conscious of the multidimensionality of oppression at work in the lives of working-class racialized students, who bring knowledge and wisdom centered in their own ways of knowing and being. Through a commitment to be vigilant and to engage social exclusions predicated on ethnocentrism and xenophobia, teachers can enact the principles of a critical pedagogy in ways that can genuinely add, rather than subtract, from the cultural knowledge that bicultural children already possess (Valenzuela, 1999).

Ecological Commitment The ecological concerns briefly referred to previously represent the more recent generation of decentering efforts to a critical pedagogy. Concerns registered from an ecopedagogical stance question the Western modernizing legacy of progress that anchors the early theoretical underpinnings of critical pedagogy. Here, concerns are connected to how critical theory structures assumptions and meanings associated with notions of humanity, freedom, and empowerment. At issue is the manner in which a critical pedagogy could potentially intensify or reinscribe dominant values, particularly within contexts where nonwestern traditions or indigenous knowledge challenges critical pedagogical definitions of the world. As such, critical principles tied to knowledge production and dialogical relations are interrogated for the potential to essentialize and 88

absolutize knowledge, despite their dialogical intent. C. A. Bowers (2003, 2001), one of the most strident critics, claims, for example, that the drawback with Freire’s perspective of dialogue is not its emphasis on critical reflection, but the manner in which individual reflection is privileged—in the name of empowerment. At issue here are concerns related to the tension of differential power, which can surface between the privileging of traditional forms of communal knowledge and the privileging of individual knowledge, when these two views conflict in the praxis of dialogue. Hence, from an ecological standpoint, there is concern that critical pedagogy, albeit unintentionally, fractures knowledge and supports the further alienation of human beings from nature. However, in light of such critiques, it is significant to note that, more recently, critical education scholars have begun to seriously engage these questions (Andrzejewski, Baltodano, & Symcox, 2009; Kahn, 2010; Miller, Vandome, & McBrewster, 2010) in an effort to explore the manner in which critical educators can assist students in facing the ecological dimensions so vital to community sustainability. This is particularly important within working-class racialized communities, where the impact of environmental racism heavily impacts the lives of children who reside there. As such, teachers with a clear eco-pedagogical commitment recognize that a strong, healthy relationship between the environment and communities must serve an integral component of classroom life. This commitment is most important with working-class bicultural children who find in their education the opportunities to reclaim their right to exist and to flourish with a planet that can sustain life for today and the future. Rooted in a deep sense of ecological awareness, a critical ecopedagogy supports critical educators as they cultivate approaches to teaching and learning that go beyond mastery and manipulation, encouraging students to develop a sense of kinship with all life, through an integrated commitment to the ecological welfare of the planet (Darder, Baltodano, & Torres, 2002/2009).


A Critical Bicultural Pedagogy From this lengthy but useful discussion of critical pedagogy, it should be apparent that the theoretical foundations that constitute a contemporary critical perspective of education are also highly conducive to the educational needs of bicultural students. Coupled with a political theory of cultural democracy, critical pedagogical principles in their reinvention can surely provide the foundation for a liberatory practice of bicultural education—one that can genuinely prepare Black, Latino, Asian, Native American, Muslim, and other racialized students to become transformative agents in their world, on behalf of themselves as individuals and collectively for their communities. A critical bicultural pedagogy holds the possibility for a discourse of hope in light of the tensions, conflicts, and contradictions that students must face in the process of their bicultural development. A teaching practice based on a framework of critical bicultural education can well prepare teachers to offer their students opportunities to explore their world as they seek also to understand how the dominant culture affects their lives and their view of themselves as human beings. From this educational vantage point, students can undergo an intellectual formation that is both humanizing and integral in preparing them to embrace life within an intimate collective vision rather than an isolating and alienating nightmare. Through their political awareness of hegemony and cultural invasion, critical bicultural educators can create culturally democratic environments where they can assist students to identify the different ways that domination and oppression have an impact on their lives each day. As participants of dialogue, students can examine and compare together the contents of curricular texts against their own personal and cultural stories of survival, and thus come to understand their role as social agents of change. In this way, bicultural students can experience democratic participation as part of a lived history, as they develop knowledge together, in the spirit of solidarity and a critical understanding of the common good. A critical bicultural pedagogy can also create the conditions for bicultural students to develop the courage to question the structures of domination that control their lives. In this way, they awaken their bicultural voice as they participate in moments of reflection, critique, and action together with other racialized students who are also experiencing the same process of discovery. In this way, these students are provided with curricular content that is considered culturally relevant and often also language instruction in their native tongues. They are also actively involved in considering critically all curricular content, texts, and classroom experiences, including their own relationships, for the emancipatory as well as oppressive and contradictory values that might inform their thoughts, attitudes, and behaviors. Through this process, bicultural students can develop their abilities to understand critically their lives as cultural and political beings, as well as how to engage actively as full cultural citizens of the world. If bicultural students are to succeed in American schools, their teachers must enter the classroom with an emancipatory commitment to work toward transforming the traditional oppressive structures and relationships of American public schools. Such a commitment of mind, body, heart and spirit also dictates the willingness to struggle with bicultural students, their parents, and communities, to create decolonizing conditions within the classroom so that students feel welcomed and at home, and also truly find the space and support to become beings for themselves. In summary, if teachers are going to enact a classroom environment that can genuinely meet the needs of working-class racialized students, this will require a critical bicultural pedagogy that uncompromisingly embraces an emancipatory philosophy of teaching and learning. As such, this entails that it 1. be built on a theory of cultural democracy; 2. support a dialectical, contextual view of the world, particularly as it relates to the notion of culture within the bicultural experience; 3. recognize those forms of cultural invasion that negatively impact the lives of bicultural students and their families; 4. utilize a dialogical model of communication that can create the conditions for students of color to find their voice through opportunities to reflect, critique, and act on their world to transform it; 90

5. acknowledge the issue of power in society and the political nature of schooling; and 6. above all, be committed to the empowerment and liberation of all people and all living sentient beings, including the planet. The foundational discussion in this book, thus far, has been presented to more clearly inform a theory of cultural democracy and a foundation for a critical bicultural pedagogy. The task remains, however, to consider how teachers can create the conditions for cultural democracy in the classroom and to explore some of the ways that these principles for a critical bicultural pedagogy manifest in the work of educators in the field. Needless to say, the previous discussions have served as the theoretical anchor for the last two chapters of the book, wherein we move steadily to better understand how these theoretical concepts translate into a living praxis—both within the classroom and within teachers’ lives.


Chapter 6 Creating the Conditions For Cultural Democracy in the Classroom But democracy, by definition, cannot mean merely that an unskilled worker can become skilled. It must mean that every “citizen” can “govern” and that society places him [or her] in a general condition to achieve this. Antonio Gramsci, Selections from Prison Notebooks, 1971

CULTURAL DEMOCRACY IN THE CLASSROOM CANNOT BE DISCUSSED, WITHIN THE context of a critical bicultural pedagogy, outside of the theoretical dimensions and material conditions that function to position teachers with respect to their educational practice. Antonio Gramsci’s words support a theory of cultural democracy that locates bicultural students within a historical and cultural context and also addresses questions related to moral and political agency within the process of their schooling and everyday lives. In short, this critical view suggests that any engagement with instrumental questions of classroom practice must be rigorously aligned to those theoretical principles that are fundamental to the establishment of a culturally democratic foundation for a critical bicultural pedagogy. This view is also consistent with that of Freire (1970) and other critical educational theorists who emphatically express that liberatory pedagogy cannot exist as a recipe for classroom practice. Rather, it is meant to provide an educational foundation to guide and support teachers’ critical engagement with those institutional forces that determine the reality of classroom life. Informed by this tradition, a critical foundation for bicultural education must not be presented in the form of models for duplication or how-to instruction manuals. one of the most important reasons for this thinking is expressed by Simon (1988), who speaks eloquently to the notion that all educational practice must emerge from the contextual relationships defined by the very conditions existing at any given moment within the classroom. Such a practice “is at root contextual and conditional. A critical pedagogy can only be concretely discussed from within a particular ‘point of practice,’ from within a specific time and place, and within a particular theme” (p. 1). Hence, efforts to instrumentalize or operationalize a critical perspective outside the context in which it is to function will fail to engage with the historical, cultural, and dialogical principles that are essential to a critical learning environment. In addition, this approach also ignores that prior to the development of practice there are cultural and ideological assumptions at work determining how educators define the purpose of education, their role, and the role of their students in the process of schooling. The belief that teachers must be provided with “canned” curriculum to ensure their success fails to acknowledge the creative potential of educators to grapple effectively with the multiplicity of contexts they find in their classrooms and to shape environments according to the lived experiences and actual educational needs of their students. Teacher education programs are notorious for reducing the role of teachers to that of technicians. Instead of empowering teachers by assisting them to develop a critical understanding of their purpose as educators, most programs foster a dependency on predefined curricula, outdated classroom strategies and techniques, and traditionally rigid classroom environments that position not only students, but teachers as well, in physically and intellectually restrictive situations. This occurs to such a degree that few public school teachers are able to envision their practice outside the scope of barren classroom settings, lifeless instructional packages, bland textbooks, standardized knowledge, and the use of meritocratic systems for student performance evaluation. Educators of bicultural students must recognize the manner in which these conditions work to disempower both teachers and students in American public schools. By so doing, teachers can begin to refuse the role of technicians in their practice as educators, as they struggle together to abandon their dependency on traditional classroom artifacts. This represents an essential step if teachers are to educate students of color to discover themselves and their potential within an environment that permits them to interact with what they know to be their world. This is particularly important given the fact that values supporting cultural diversity, social struggle, and human rights are so often absent from the curricular materials teachers are forced to use in most public schools. It is even more pronounced today, as neoliberal policies of accountability have become the panacea of federal and state educational reformers and “teaching to the test” commonplace in poor, working92

class schools. Unfortunately, more so today than 20 years ago, a critical bicultural pedagogy built on a foundation of cultural democracy represents a missing educational discourse in the preparation and practice of most public school teachers. Hence, the many different forms in which the bicultural experience manifests itself in American life seldom find their way into traditional classroom settings. Instead, bicultural experiences remain, for the most part, hidden within the reinforced silence of students of color. If the voices of difference are to find a place in the everyday interactions of public schools, educators must create the conditions for all students to experience an ongoing process of culturally democratic life. With this in mind, this chapter will address some important questions and issues that educators face in their efforts to pave the way for a critical bicultural pedagogy.


The Question of Language It is impossible to consider any form of education—or even human existence— without first considering the impact of language on our lives. Language is one of the most significant human resources; it functions in a multitude of ways to affirm, contradict, negotiate, challenge, transform, and empower particular cultural and ideological beliefs and practices. Hence, language constitutes one of the most powerful media for transmitting our personal histories and social realities, as well as for thinking and shaping the world (Darder & Uriarte, 2011; Cronin, 2008; Darder, 2002; Bartolomé, 2000; Diaz-Soto, 1997; Smith, 1998; Freire & Macedo, 1987; Williams, 1975; Cole & Scribner, 1974). Language is essential to the process of dialogue, to the development of meaning, and to the production of knowledge. From the context of its emancipatory potential, language must be understood as a dialectical phenomenon that links its very existence and meaning to the lived experiences of a language community and constitutes a major cornerstone for the development of voice. The question of language must also be addressed within the context of a terrain of struggle that is central to our efforts to transform traditional educational structures that historically have failed bicultural students. In doing so, it is essential that we not fall into totalizing theoretical traps—ignoring that human beings are, in fact, able to appropriate a multitude of linguistic forms and utilize them in critical and emancipatory ways. Moreover, it is simplistic and to our detriment as educators of bicultural students to accept the notion that any one particular language form (i.e., “standard” English), in and of itself, constitutes a totalizing dominant or subordinate force, as it is unrealistic to believe that simply utilizing a student’s primary language (e.g., Spanish, Ebonics, etc.) guarantees that a student’s emancipatory interests are being addressed. Consequently, the question of language in the classroom constitutes one of the most complex and multifaceted issues that teachers of bicultural students must be prepared to address in the course of their practice. The complexity of language and its relationship to how students produce knowledge and how language shapes their world represent a major pedagogical concern for all educational settings. In public schools, teachers can begin to address this complexity by incorporating activities based on the languages their students bring into the classroom. In this way, the familiar language can function as a significant starting point from which bicultural students can engage with the foreign and unknown elements that comprise significant portions of the required curriculum. An example of how teachers might do this with younger students is to develop language instruction and activities with their student; such activities give them the opportunity to bring the home language into the context of the classroom (Diaz-Soto and Haroon, 2010; Cronin, 2008; Cronin & Sosa Massó, 2003; Nieto, 1999/2010). This can be done by having students and parents introduce their languages through songs, stories, games, and other such activities. Giving attention to the home language raises it to a place of dignity and respect, rather than permitting it to become a source of humiliation and shame. It should be noted that the introduction of different languages must also be accompanied by critical dialogues that help students examine prevailing social attitudes and biases about language differences. These discussions can assist students to consider typical discriminatory responses to such situations as when people speak with “foreign” accents, or when people do not understand the language being spoken. In addition, students from similar cultural and language communities can be encouraged and assisted to feel comfortable when they converse together in their primary language as part of the classroom experience. Such opportunities support the development of voice, as well as affirm the bicultural experience of students of color. As bell hooks (1989) argues: Learning to listen to different voices and hearing different speech challenges the notion that we must all assimilate—share a single similar talk —in educational institutions. Language reflects the culture from which we emerge. To deny ourselves daily use of speech patterns that are common and familiar, that embody the unique and distinctive aspect of our self is one of the ways we become estranged and alienated from our past. It is important for us to have as many languages on hand as we can know or learn. It is important for those of us who are Black, who speak in particular patois as well as Standard English, to express ourselves in both ways. (pp. 79–80)

With older students, the issue of language can be addressed in more complex terms. As mentioned previously, bicultural students need opportunities to engage in classroom dialogues and activities that permit them to explore the meaning of their lived experiences through the familiarity of their own language. But also important to their development of social consciousness and their grounding as cultural citizens is an awareness 94

of how language and power intersect in ways that include or exclude students of color from particular social relationships. Although it is paramount that bicultural students fully develop and strengthen their bicultural voices (as Puerto Ricans, Chicanos, African Americans, etc.) through their interactions with others in their own communities, it is also imperative that, in order to understand more fully the impact of language on social structures and practices, students of color enter into critical dialogues with those outside their cultural communities. Through the process of these cross-cultural dialogues, students come to better recognize for themselves the manner in which language works to define who they are and how language, as a tool, can assist them to explore critically those possibilities that have remained hidden and out of their reach. It is also significant for teachers to recognize that it is more common for working-class bicultural students to reflect on these issues and to express themselves predominantly through a language of practice—a highly pragmatic language that is primarily rooted in notions of common sense and concrete experiences. Although this process represents a necessary step in the empowerment of bicultural students, their transformative potential is extended when they are able to connect practice with theory, or when they are able to recognize themselves as critical beings who are constantly moving between concrete and abstract representations of experiences that influence how they make decisions about their actions in the world. In order to create the conditions for students to determine their own lives genuinely within a multiplicity of discourses, teachers must introduce their students to the language of theory. The language of theory constitutes a critical language of social analysis that is produced through human efforts to understand how individuals reflect and interpret their experiences and, as a result, how they shape and are shaped by their world. Although it is a language generally connected to the realm of abstract thinking, its fundamental function or praxis cannot be fulfilled unless it is linked to the concrete experiences and practices of everyday life. Such language also encourages the use of more precise and specific linguistic representations of experience than is generally expected—or even necessary—in the course of everyday practice. Challenging bicultural students to engage openly with the language of theory and to understand better its impact on their lives can awaken them to the tremendous potential available to them as social agents. At this point it is significant to note that what has been traditionally considered theoretical language has also been—almost exclusively—controlled and governed by those who have held power in academic circles: namely, elite, white males. As a result, the greatest number of formal theoretical texts considered as legitimate knowledge reflect conservative, Eurocentric, patriarchal notions of the world. Generally speaking, these texts uniformly support assumptions that reinforce racism, classism, and sexism, while written in such a way as to justify claims of neutrality and objectivity (Bartolomé, 2007; Macedo, 2006; Macedo, Dendrinos, & Gounari, 2003). In their efforts to resist conservative forms of language domination, many educators disengage from all forms of theoretical language, thereby relegating the language of theory exclusively to a sphere of domination. Not surprisingly, this uncritical view comes dangerously close to being little more than a less recognized form of anti-intellectualism. The greatest danger is that it abandons the struggle for a liberatory language of theory by its refusal to challenge academic work that perpetuates all forms of domination and to assert the need for multiple forms of theoretical language rooted in indigenous perspectives and a diversity of cultural styles (Kahn, 2010; hooks, 1989). From another standpoint, efforts to resist the inequality and alienation reinforced by traditional uses of theoretical language can result in protective mechanisms of resistance among students of color, and this too can give rise to unintentional forms of anti-intellectualism. Given the nature of such responses, it is not unusual for bicultural students, who have suffered the negative impact of domination in their lives, to reject indiscriminately those cultural forms and social institutions that they come to associate with hostility and alienation. As a consequence, it is no simple task to challenge attitudes of anti-intellectualism in the classroom. To do so will require teachers to recognize that attitudes of resistance manifested by students of color are very often rooted in legitimate fears and meaningful responses to protect themselves and support community survival. In addition, these fears and responses are strongly fostered by a legacy of resistance, which is reinforced daily through their personal and institutional relationships. These relationships include interactions with their parents, who often harbor unspoken fears that they may lose their children forever if they should “become educated.” Speaking to this question, hooks (1989) asserts that parents of color “feared what college education might do to their children’s minds even as they unenthusiastically acknowledged its importance. . . . 95

No wonder our working-class parents from poor backgrounds feared our entry into such a world, intuiting perhaps that we might learn to be ashamed of where we had come from, that we might never return home, or come back only to lord it over them” (pp. 74–75). Also included among these interactions are relationships with many of their teachers, who themselves have never successfully moved beyond the language of practice. Consequently, it is not unusual for many teachers, when asked to engage with the language of theory, respond by feeling almost as fearful, intimidated, and disempowered as their students. Simon (1988) addresses this fear of theory among teachers who are graduate students in his classes: “A fear of theory [is] more often expressed by students who have had to struggle for acceptance and recognition within the dominant institutions which define the terrain of everyday life. These are students whose lives have been lived within the prescriptive and marginalizing effects of power inscribed in relations of class, gender, ethnicity, race and sexual preference” (p. 7). These responses by teachers are often used by teacher preparation programs around the country to justify astute arguments against the widespread use of theoretical language. More often than not, these arguments are shaped by a lack of critical engagement with the emancipatory potential of language and by a reproductive ideology that reduces students to simple objects who are somehow mystically stripped of all dignity and voice by expecting them to engage in disciplined critical thought and to address abstract concepts related to practice in more precise ways. These complaints are generally accompanied by a call for more visual language, more anecdotal accounts, or more how-to discussions. In essence, such requests for the predominant use of a language of practice inadvertently perpetuate a nondialectical and dichotomized view of theory and erode the teacher’s potential for creative social action. If one listens carefully, between the lines of this pragmatic educational discourse are echoes of a “false generosity of paternalism” (Freire, 1970) built on assumptions that arise from a lack of faith in the ability of oppressed groups to appropriate, transform, and utilize the language of theory in a liberatory fashion. Educators in bicultural communities must grapple with their own language biases and prejudices beyond simply the issue of language differences, and work to encounter the deep frustrations and anxieties related to their fear of theory. This significant area of concern must also be adequately addressed by teacher preparation programs. This is particularly true for those programs that have traditionally neglected or ignored altogether this fundamental issue, as evidenced by curricula that place a greater emphasis on numerous predefined ways to teach the standard subjects rather than on exploring the complexity inherent in the human dynamics of creating meaning and producing knowledge in the classroom. Undoubtedly, language represents one of the most significant emancipatory tools in our struggle for cultural democracy in public schools. It is intimately linked to the struggle for voice and participation, and thus essential to our struggle for liberation. Through language, we not only define our position in society, but we also use that language to define ourselves as individual and communal subjects of our world. Herein lies one of the most important goals for a critical bicultural pedagogy: creating the conditions for the voices of difference to find their way to the center of the dialogical process rather than to remain forever silent or at the fringes of classroom life.


The Question of Authority The question of authority continues to represent one of the most hotly contested issues in public schools today. This should not be surprising, for the manner in which we conceptualize authority truly represents a necessary precondition for the manner in which we define ourselves, our work, and our very lives; so much so that it is impossible to discuss cultural democracy in the classroom without addressing the issues that directly stem from this question. This is even more important in these times, given the manner in which teachers seem more and more dispossessed of classroom authority by the instrumentalizing design of neoliberal accountability measures. In order to engage critically with the notion of authority, it is vital that teachers come to understand that authority does not automatically equal authoritarianism. Authority, within the context of a critical bicultural pedagogy, is intimately linked to the manner in which teachers exercise control, direct, influence, and make decisions about what is actually to take place in their classrooms. To engage with the question of authority in a liberatory fashion clearly requires an understanding of power and how power is used to construct relationships, define truths, and create social conditions that can, potentially, either subordinate or empower bicultural students. Hence, authority must be understood as a dialectical “terrain of legitimation and struggle” rather than simply as an absolute, hierarchical, and totalizing force (Giroux, 1988a). Efforts to examine the question of authority in the classroom also require teachers to address their personal contradictions related to how they formulate ideas of control, power, and authority in their own lives. This is particularly necessary given the manner in which teachers in public schools are consistently subjected to administrative dictates and school conditions that undermine their power and authority. As teachers struggle together to challenge their conflicts and contradictions in this area, they are more able to build environments that support an emancipatory view of authority, encouraging their students to rethink critically their values, ideas, and actions in relation to the consequences these might have on themselves and others. Although the question of authority is seldom discussed in liberatory terms by either conservative or liberal educators, it is essential that it be critically addressed in teacher preparation programs. As mentioned previously, it is difficult for teachers to address the question of authority if they themselves hold uncritical, conflicting, and contradictory attitudes about power and its relationship to human organization. Such attitudes are apparent in prevailing commonsense beliefs about the nature of power. Although conservative educators are more likely to see power as a positive force that works to maintain order, earn respect, and “get the job done,” liberals—and even many radical educators—are more prone to believe that “power corrupts” and that, despite human efforts, power ultimately leads to destruction. As a consequence, power is commonly perceived either as an absolute force for good, or else as an evil or negative force that dehumanizes and divests the individual’s capacity for justice and solidarity with others. Understanding how these views of power are enmeshed in the contradictory thinking of teachers can help to shed light on the inadequacy and helplessness that so many educators express. This is of particular concern, given the fact that so many liberal and radical educators who hold negative assumptions related to power also speak to the necessity of empowering students, communities, and teachers alike. In response, Patricia Bissell (1991), in her article Classroom Authority and Critical Pedagogy, speaks to the impasse that can result when educators seek to use their power as teachers to enact liberatory goals, while struggling not to fall prey to the “oppressive sins” of the system they are working to resist and transform. Another way to describe this impasse would be to say that we want to serve the common good with the power we possess by virtue of our position as teachers, and yet we are deeply suspicious of any exercise of power in the classroom. This profound suspicion results from a totalized notion of power as a unitary force with uniform effects. Rather, we should differentiate uses of power under the rubrics of coercion, persuasion, and authority and recognize the positive uses of power-as-authority in resolving our dilemma. (p. 848)

Contradictory assumptions that underscore the question of authority also can function to perpetuate the status quo through the manner in which they sabotage, limit, and distort teachers’ perceptions of classroom authority and their ability to alter the conditions they find in public schools. Such teachers, who do not possess a dialectical view of authority, generally lack the critical criteria to challenge attitudes, beliefs, and actions that perpetuate social injustice. In light of this, authority can be more readily understood in terms of its potential to 97

uphold emancipatory ideals essential to the foundation of critical democratic life. In efforts to consider further this question, it must be noted that contradictory assumptions of authority cannot be deconstructed by simply utilizing a language of practice. The task of challenging society’s contradictions requires educators to delve fearlessly into both the abstract and concrete experiences that unite to inform the theoretical realm. Through uniting their critical reflections of practice with theory, teachers come to discover the manner in which distorted views of power can inform classroom practices that perpetuate conditions of inequalities and alienate students of color. The authoritarian nature of a conservative view of teacher authority is often hidden beneath the guise of traditional notions of respect, which can incorporate objective, instrumental, and hierarchical relationships that support various forms of oppressive educational practices at the expense of student voice. on the other hand, the oppressive impact of the liberal view of teacher authority, which all but disengages with questions of authority, often functions in an equally perverse manner. Hidden under the values of subjectivity, individualism, and intentionality, this view easily deteriorates into a crass relativism, asserting that all expressed values and ideas are deserving of equal time (Giroux, 1981). This is put into practice to the extent that some teachers proudly proclaim that they always consider all ideas generated by their students as equal, irrespective of personal histories, ideologies, or cultural differences—thus, professing a specious notion of shared power. Although this perspective may ring true when entertained exclusively in the language of practice, theoretically it reflects an uncritical disengagement with issues related to social forms of domination and the manner in which ideas are generated and informed by particular interests that silence and oppress students from disenfranchised groups. Again, Bissell (1991) reminds us that “teachers cannot voluntarily give up all their power in the classroom: the institution surrounding the classroom establishes their power” (p. 851). As such, it is fraudulent to pretend that teachers do not possess any authority and power over students to determine how the classroom will be governed, as it is unconscionable for teachers to abdicate their ethical responsibility to challenge the oppressive nature of student ideas, particularly when these ideas constitute acts of racism, sexism, classism, homophobia, or other forms of psychological violence that attack the dignity and self-worth of marginalized students. Similarly, the question of teacher authority within the classroom can be linked to the issue of “directivity,” or the act of directing students in their learning process. often progressive teachers voice tremendous anxiety and angst over the quantity and quality of political direction they provide to their students (Michaels, 2000). Many feel very insecure about using any lecture format out of concern that they will be guilty of reproducing the “banking system” of education. This anxiety is often generated by fear of being authoritarian on one hand and excessively permissive and unfocused on the other. In discussing the issue of directivity in Pedagogy of the City, Paulo Freire (1992) clearly affirms both the directive nature of education and the validity of these concerns. Beginning with the fact that all educational practice is directive by its very nature, the question that coherent progressive educators must deal with is what do they need to do to diminish the distance between what they say and they do so as not to allow directivity to turn into authoritarianism or manipulation. By the same token, in avoiding directivity they need to prevent losing themselves in the lack of clear limits that often leads into a laissez-faire approach (p. 117).

Rather than placing emphasis strictly on the directive quality of instructional methods (i.e., lectures, worksheets, vocabulary lists, science manuals, etc.) that may be employed for the introduction of required content in different subject areas, a critical bicultural practice is concerned with the underlying intent and purpose of the knowledge that is being presented and the quality of dialogical opportunities by which students can appropriate the material to affirm, challenge and reinvent its meaning in the process of knowledge production (Darder, 2002). With this in mind, Freire (Freire & Macedo, 1987) attests, It is not some magic understanding of content by itself that liberates, nor does disregard for subject matter liberate a student. We cannot neglect the task of helping students become literate, choosing instead to spend most of the teaching time on political analysis. However, it is equally impossible to spend all of the class time on purely technical and linguistic questions, trusting the critical consciousness will follow as a result of being literate . . . progressive and reactionary teachers do have one thing in common— the act of teaching course content. [The difference in] teaching from a progressive point of view is not simply the transmission of knowledge . . . which is intended to be mechanically memorized by students [but] that learners penetrate or enter into the discourse of the teacher, appropriating for themselves the deepest significance of the subject being taught (p. 213).

Questions about just how directive teachers should or should not be within the classroom have also led to some misconceptions and heated debates among progressive educators. Nevertheless, deny it or not, elements 98

of directivity are always at work in the process of teaching, as they are in all other forms of political labor (Michaels, 2000; Rose, 1989; Shor & Freire, 1987). So, irrespective of conservative or liberal myths about schooling that shroud themselves in a cloak of neutrality, no educational endeavor is ever a neutral affair. The particular questions that are posed are intimately linked to the direction that knowledge production will take and the political and cultural interests that will ultimately be preserved or challenged. Hence, it is for this reason that a critical bicultural practice insists that the purpose and intent that underlies a teacher’s pedagogy must be explicit. Moreover, this approach must not be either manipulative or permissive, but instead radically democratic (Giroux, 1988a). This calls for an approach to teacher authority that carries an ethical and moral obligation to use power in the interest of social justice, human rights, and students’ democratic formation as both critical and communal citizens of the world. For it is precisely a critical use of directive strategies by teachers in the classroom that permits them to counter social inequalities and exclusions at the heart of the hidden curriculum. Similarly, the participatory strategies, by which teachers create the conditions for students to direct the content of their study and to respond openly to the content, consequences of particular practices, and their relationships within schools will influence the educational outcomes of working-class bicultural students. The main point here is that teachers must recognize that there exist no human relationships, let alone educational practices without the explicit or implicit existence of authority. However, what often is seldom reconciled—to the detriment of an emancipatory political vision—is the dialectical relationship that exists between authority and freedom. what is essential here is that teachers comprehend that there are a multitude of ways in which authority expresses itself within the context of human relationships, some more overt or well defined than others. Hence, a critical bicultural practice embraces both directivity and authority in the interest of a humanizing pedagogy that functions to breakdown the hidden, and not so hidden, authoritarian structures and practices at work within public schooling—structures and practices that objectify and domesticate students into silence and complacency. Unlike traditional views on teacher authority, an emancipatory view of authority suggests that although teachers hold knowledge that is considered to render them prepared to enter the classroom, they must also come to recognize that knowledge, as a historical and cultural product, is forever in a creative state of partiality. And, as a consequence, any discourse represents but one small piece of the larger puzzle that constitutes all possible knowledge at any given moment in time. Hence, all forms of knowledge must be open for question, examination, interrogation, and critique by and with students in the process of learning. In this way, teachers actively use their authority to create the conditions for a critical transformation of consciousness, which takes place in the process of interaction of teachers and students and the knowledge they produce together. Grounded in criteria informed by a liberatory vision of life, teachers can embrace the notion of authority in the interest of cultural democracy rather than against it.


Redefining Fairness and Equality If American public schools are to establish classroom environments that are culturally democratic, teachers will have to grapple critically with what has been traditionally defined as fair and equal. Just as the principles of democracy have so often been reduced to numerical head counts and majority rule, concepts of fairness and equality have also been reduced to such quantifiable forms. Therefore, it is not unusual to hear teachers across the country express the belief that “fair and equal” is equivalent to providing the same quantity and quality of goods to all students across the board, irrespective of differences in social privilege and economic entitlement. Clearly inherent in this commonsense perspective of “fair and equal” is also a lack of recognition for the folly that such a view engenders and the negative impact that it can have on the lives of disenfranchised students. The consequence of this view in public schools is that students from the dominant culture who enter with huge social and economic advantages receive just as much and oftentimes even more than working-class students from subordinate cultures who arrive with far fewer advantages. In an analysis of resource distribution among students in public schools, it is unquestionably apparent that poor children, who receive the least at home, receive the least from public education (orfield & Lee, 2005; Kozol, 1992). This painfully reminds us that the American educational system has little to do with cultivating equality. For if equality were, in fact, a central tenet of U.S. education, the educational system would then prioritize its resources in such a manner as to ensure that the majority of students were placed in settings where they could achieve successfully. Under such conditions, students from disenfranchised communities who require more educational opportunities by way of teacher contact, educational materials, nutritional support, and health care would receive more, whereas those students who arrive with greater privileges and with many more resources already in place would receive less. Martin o’Neill in a recent editorial in The Guardian, on the topic fairness and equality, argues that, If we think we can talk about fair equality of opportunity in isolation from thinking about inequalities of income and wealth, then we’re making a dangerous error. Real equality of opportunity would mean eradicating the influence of race, gender and class on people’s life chances, and it is hard to see how we could even begin to do this as long as our society has such deep social and economic inequalities between groups. Equality of opportunity only makes sense in a world where the differences in people’s starting points in life are kept within reasonable limits. In a country with fair equality of opportunity, the largest differences in outcome would be within social groups, not between them. . . . We nearly all agree that people’s chances in life should not depend on their circumstances of birth. And yet, if we really take that idea seriously, we would be committing ourselves to trying to create a society in which the material differences between people’s background circumstances was [sic] greatly reduced. In short, we’d be endorsing a more equal society.1

Instead, what we find in most schools is the opposite. Students from the dominant culture, who excel because they have been raised in homes that can provide them with the social, economic, and cultural capital necessary to meet the elitist and ethnocentric standards of American schools, enjoy greater advantages and more positive regard. This contrasts significantly with those students from disenfranchised communities who must ever struggle to succeed under social and material conditions that work to their detriment. For decades it has been well documented that students from the dominant culture, who are raised in environments of privilege, score higher on standardized examinations (Jensen, 2000; Hernstein & Murray, 1996). Hence, these students are perceived as superior when compared to most working-class bicultural students. In addition, many of these superior students are also considered by public schools to be exhibiting mentally gifted abilities, whereas students of color (who often constitute a majority of students enrolled) are stigmatized and shamed by placement into basic and remedial classes. Moreover, this mentally gifted status has served as a justifiable rationale for appropriating additional resources to the already privileged—a group that disproportionately includes fewer working-class students of color.2 The consequence here is that the majority of poor and working-class bicultural students, who are in need of greater school resources and educational opportunities, find themselves in less challenging and less stimulating environments that operate under the assumption that the students themselves, their parents, and their culture are to blame for their deficiency, while ignoring the glaring deficiencies of a larger unjust system that replicates itself in public schools. Efforts by the white House in the past two decades have only made matters worse. Civil-rights inspired programs designed to equalize school opportunities have been steadily dwindling or completely eliminated. According to the Federal Education Budget Project,3 “Recent research suggests that 100

resources are not evenly distributed among schools in a school district and that some schools, often those that serve students with greater needs, receive less resources.” Funding for constructivist educational programs has been bled dry and transferred to support high-stakes testing initiatives. Jonathan Kozol (1990), in an article entitled the “New Untouchable” (as relevant today as two decades ago), suggests that the consequences of tougher conservative rhetoric and more severe demands have led to further discrimination toward disenfranchised students: Higher standards, in the absence of authentic educative opportunities in early years, function as a punitive attack on those who have been cheated since their infancy. Effectively, we now ask more of those to whom we now give less. Earlier testing for schoolchildren is prescribed. Those who fail are penalized by being held back from promotion and by being slotted into lower tracks where they cannot impede the progress of more privileged children. Those who disrupt classroom discipline are not placed in smaller classes with more patient teachers; instead, at a certain point, they are expelled—even if this means expulsion of a quarter of all pupils in school. (p. 52)

Buried within traditional educational views of fairness and equality is a stubborn refusal to engage with the realities of a deeply racialized economic system that sustains the marginalization of many working-class students and students of color in this country (Darder & Torres, 2004). yet, it is significant to note that contrary to popular notions that personal self-interest is the primary innate motivator of most people, many sociological studies affirm that human preferences and behaviors show a significant sensitivity and aversion to inequality (Bolton & ockenfels, 2005; Fehr & Schmidt, 1999). Moreover, recent neuroscience research by scientists at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland, show that the human brain appears to be hardwired to support equality in society (Tricomi et al., 2010). This evidence might suggest that students, from a young age, must be initiated, socialized, and conditioned (wittingly or unwittingly) to justify, normalize, and reproduce attitudes and practices that sustain gross economic and racialized inequalities, despite what may be an innate human predisposition to favor conditions of social equality. Accordingly, it should be no surprise that working-class bicultural students are often “justifiably” perceived as less intelligent and therefore less deserving than more affluent students from the dominant culture. As such, they are often taught, through their schooling experiences, to perceive themselves as inferior, thus less capable. This to say that if conditions in public schools are to change, educators will have to openly challenge traditional views of fairness and equality and unveil how these reinforce notions of entitlement and privilege conveniently anchored to a doctrine of Social Darwinism—a doctrine incompatible with a vision of both social and material justice.


Multicultural Curriculum In the civil-rights era, a variety of multicultural educational efforts where made to include culturally relevant content in both the public school classroom and the teacher education curriculum. However, neoliberal policies of the last twenty years have unfortunately served to cut away at the heart of early multicultural reforms, instead placing the curricular focus squarely on “evidenced-based” accountability measures. Accordingly, the language of NCLB (now RTT) has done little to support either multicultural or linguistic diversity objectives in public schools, while its rhetoric of progress sustains a assimilative focus on “business as usual” (Sleeter & Grant, 2005). As a consequence, many teachers complete their education with only a superficial understanding of the cultural and linguistic differences that define the realities of bicultural students (Banks et al., 2001; Banks & Banks, 1995; Ladson-Billings, 2000, 1992). Hence, it is not surprising that in many public schools today, the use of multicultural curriculum is often dependent on the willingness and commitment of individual educators in these schools to struggle for greater inclusivity. In such cases, when teachers begin to recognize and accept the limitations of the mainstream curriculum in meeting the needs of students of color, they often begin to shift their curriculum by including traditional cultural objects and symbols into the classroom (Gorski, 1995). In fact, most multicultural curricula place a major emphasis on such cultural artifacts because they can be easily seen, manipulated, and quantified. Unfortunately, using this approach alone ignores the more complex subjectivities of cultural values, belief systems, histories, and traditions that inform the production of such cultural forms (Nieto, 1999/2010; Darder, 2002). Also problematic are depictions of cultural images and symbols that promote Eurocentric interpretations of cultural groups—depictions that function to dissolve cultural differences and reinforce mainstream expectations of assimilation. As a consequence, traditional multicultural approaches operate to the detriment of students of color because they fail to engage and affirm their cultural differences and assist them to understand the social and political implications of growing up bicultural. This is not to imply that bicultural students should not be exposed to curriculum that seeks to introduce and use cultural artifacts in affirming their cultural traditions and experiences, but rather to emphasize that such multicultural materials and activities alone do not ensure that a culturally democratic process is at work. As mentioned previously, this is the case with a multicultural curriculum that incorporates games, food, stories, language, music, and other cultural forms in ways that unwittingly erode their intent by reducing these to mere objects, disembodied from the vitality of their original cultural meaning. To prevent such an outcome, educators must become more critical of the actual multicultural curriculum used in the classroom as well as the philosophical beliefs that inform its practice. First, teachers can begin to assess carefully their personal assumptions, prejudices, and biases related to issues of culture. Since it is far more common for teachers to think of themselves as neutral and unbiased toward all students, racist, classist, and sexist attitudes and behaviors are most often disguised by faulty commonsense assumptions utilized in the assessment of student academic performance or classroom behavior (Gay, 2010; Bartolomé, 2007; Sleeter, 2005; Weis & Fine, 1993). For example, most teachers still retain notions of culture that reflect color-blind or melting-pot assumptions and a bootstrap mentality Simply put, these teachers believe that people are all alike (no matter culture, class, race, histories, etc.), that the United States is a place where all cultures have (or should have) melded together to form one culture, and that anyone who wants to succeed can succeed, irrespective of social or economic circumstances (Derman-Sparks & Phillips, 1997). Unfortunately these assumptions work to undermine the emancipatory potential of multicultural curricula. This is primarily because, when educators engage issues of cultural diversity based on Eurocentric beliefs, they are unable to accurately address cultural issues related to power and dominance, as well as the impact that these forces have on the lives of bicultural students (McCarthy, Crichlow, et al., 2005; Ginwright, 2004; Noguera & Akim, 2000; Hale-Bensen, 1986). For instance, in situations where students of color act out their resistance to cultural domination by passively refusing to participate in classroom activities or by actively disrupting the process, these student behaviors are interpreted by the majority of teachers as simply a classroom management problem—or, at most, as cause for concern about the emotional stability or well-being of the student. Seldom does it occur to most teachers who are faced with such behaviors to consider the 102

manner in which cultural subordination, culturally irrelevant schooling, and prevailing social hostility toward differences might serve as the genesis of classroom resistance. Consequently, despite well-meaning efforts by teachers to intervene, their faulty assumptions generally hinder their effectiveness with bicultural students, through unintentional acts of cultural invasion and subordination. Second, in order to approach effectively the need for culturally relevant curriculum in the classroom, educators must be willing to acknowledge their own limitations with respect to the cultural systems from which bicultural students make sense of their world. This requires teachers to recognize the knowledge that students and their parents can bring to the classroom about their culture, their communities, and children’s educational needs. This can best be accomplished by creating conditions for students to voice more clearly what constitutes the cultural differences they experience and to unfurl the conflicts as they struggle together to understand their own histories and their relationships with others. In addition, teachers must take the time to learn about the communities where their students live. As teachers gain a greater understanding of students’ lives outside of school, they are more able to create opportunities for classroom dialogue, which assists bicultural students to affirm, challenge, and transform the many conflicts and contradictions that they face as members of disenfranchised groups. Third, educators need to become more critical in their assessment of multicultural curricula and activities with respect to the consequences of their use in the classroom. For example, many teachers believe that making feathered headbands and teaching students about Indian contributions to the first Thanksgiving are effective activities for the study of Native Americans. In reality, these types of activities constitute forms of cultural invasion that reinforce stereotypical images of American Indians and grossly distort the history of a people. Although this is a deeply problematic representation of culture for all students, it has a particularly perverse effect on students who have had little or no exposure to Native Americans other than what they have seen on television and in films, and a doubly destructive impact on the self-esteem and identity of Native American students who are subjected to colonizing depictions of their cultural histories (Grande, 2004; Derman-Sparks, Ramsey, & Edwards, 2006; Derman-Sparks & ABC Task Force, 1989). And fourth, teachers must recognize that no multicultural curriculum, in and of itself, can replace the dialogical participation of bicultural students in the process of schooling. Even the most ideologically correct curriculum is in danger of objectifying students if it is utilized in ways that detach them from their everyday lives (Duncan-Andrade & Morell, 2008; Cammarota, 2008; Bartolomé, 1994). Thus, as Gramsci (1971) observes, “We come back to the truly active participation of the pupil in the school, which can only exist if the school is related to life. The more the new curricula nominally affirm and theorize the pupil’s activity and working collaboration with the teacher, the more they are actually designed as if the pupil were purely passive” (p. 37). These words support the notion that a genuine affirmation of cultural diversity in the classroom requires the restructuring of power relations and classroom structures in such a manner as to promote the active voice and participation of bicultural students. In line with concerns discussed here, a panel of interdisciplinary scholars, chaired by James Banks (Banks et al., 2001), worked together over a four-year period to determine what was known from research and experience on education and diversity. The panel, cosponsored by the Center for Multicultural Education at the University of Washington and the Common Destiny Alliance at the University of Maryland, identified twelve essential principles directly related to creating a culturally democratic classroom context and an effective multicultural approach. These Diversity Within Unity Essential Principles4 are tied to five key areas of schooling: Teacher Learning Principle 1: Professional development programs should help teachers understand the complex characteristics of ethnic groups within U.S. society and the ways in which race, ethnicity, language, and social class interact to influence student behavior.

Student Learning Principle 2: Schools should ensure that all students have equitable opportunities to learn and to meet high standards. Principle 3: The curriculum should help students understand that knowledge is socially constructed and reflects researchers’ personal experiences as well as the social, political, and economic contexts in which they live and work. Principle 4: Schools should provide all students with opportunities to participate in extra- and co-curricular activities that develop knowledge, skills, and attitudes that increase academic achievement and foster positive interracial relationships.

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Principle 5: Schools should create or make salient super-ordinate cross-cutting group memberships in order to improve intergroup relations. Principle 6: Students should learn about stereotyping and other related biases that have negative effects on racial and ethnic relations. Principle 7: Students should learn about the values shared by virtually all cultural groups (e.g., justice, equality, freedom, peace, compassion, and charity). Principle 8: Teachers should help students acquire the social skills needed to interact effectively with students from other racial, ethnic, cultural, and language groups. Principle 9: Schools should provide opportunities for students from different racial, ethnic, cultural, and language groups to interact socially under conditions designed to reduce fear and anxiety.

School Governance, organization, and Equity Principle 10: A school’s organizational strategies should ensure that decision making is widely shared and that members of the school community learn collaborative skills and dispositions in order to create a caring environment for students. Principle 11: Leaders should develop strategies that ensure that all public schools, regardless of their locations, are funded equitably.

Assessment Principle 12: Teachers should use multiple culturally sensitive techniques to assess complex cognitive and social skills.

These principles can support educators in creating culturally democratic practices that engage cultural predispositions and bring bicultural voices to the center of the discourse. In this way, all students can come together to express their lives more intimately and engage in classroom dialogues that permit them to examine more closely both their cultural values and social realities. Thus, students learn to engage critically oppressive views of life, search for different ways to think about themselves and others, challenge both their self-imposed and institutionally defined limitations, and affirm their cultural and individual strengths. In so doing, marginalized students experience a liberatory pedagogical process that enhances their academic learning (Duncan-Andrade & Morrell, 2008). Moreover, they can embrace the possibilities for a more just world through a growing sense of solidarity built on love, respect, and compassion for one another and a commitment to the liberation of all people.


Challenging Racism in the Classroom No matter how much a teacher might feel committed to the notion of cultural diversity, it is impossible to create a culturally democratic environment that can effectively meet the educational needs of bicultural students if a teacher is ill equipped to challenge incidences of racism when they surface in the curriculum or in student relationships. As described earlier, racism results from institutionalized prejudices and biases that perpetuate discrimination based on racialized differences. when educators fail to criticize discriminatory attitudes and behaviors, they permit bicultural students to suffer needless humiliation and psychological violence that negatively reinforce feelings of disentitlement and marginalization in society (Ginwright, 2004; Darder, 2002; Noguera & Akim, 2000). Despite attitudes to the contrary, cultural differences do not constitute the problem in public schools; rather, the problem is directly related to the responses of the dominant culture to these differences—responses that function to perpetuate social, political, and economic inequality. Instead of adopting the neutral position of most multicultural approaches, Carol Phillips5 (1988) suggests that educators teach students how “to recognize when cultural and racially different groups are being victimized by the racist and biased attitudes of the larger society; how these behaviors are institutionalized in the policies and procedures of [schools] and programs; how these practices of excluding people are so mystified that well-meaning advocates for change fail to see them operating; [and] how to act against prevailing forces that perpetuate racism” (p. 45). The inability to address racism, as suggested by Phillips, is commonly observed in the failure of educators to address even racial slurs when they occur. yet, Tettegah and Neville (2007) argue that “Race related namecalling is also a form of aggression that can involve perpetration and victimization” (p. 34). A common unengaged scenario can find two or more students in a disagreement, and one or more may yell out at the other, “Nigger!” or “Wetback!” Similarly, in our post–September 11 world, many teachers do not grapple well with incidences of Islamophobia in the classroom, where students enact their xenophobic views toward Muslim students (Kincheloe, Steinberg, & Stonebanks, 2010). More times than not, educators who overhear racist comments—unable to deal with their own discomfort—let them go by altogether, or they may tell students to stop fighting, or that it is against the rules to call each other names. Despite good intentions, this approach ignores the racializing forces that inform such behaviors and the consequence it has for students involved. Moreover, it does little to assist these students and their peers to understand their actions critically or transform their relationships. Even more disconcerting is research that has found that Euroamerican teachers often fail to empathize with the victims of race-related incidents (Tettegah & Neville, 2007; Tettegah & Anderson, 2007). Educators who strive for culturally democratic environments will need to call on their courage and inner strength to challenge the tension and discomfort they can experience when confronting issues of racialized name-calling and other discriminatory behaviors. Instead of looking for quick-fix methods to restore a false sense of harmony at such moments of confrontation, teachers must seek to unveil the tensions, conflicts, and contradictions that perpetuate discriminatory attitudes and behaviors among their students. In a situation such as the one described above, a teacher can bring students together into critical dialogue about racial epithets and their role in perpetuating cruelty, hostility, and inequality. This may begin with questions about the feelings that precipitate these terms. where did they learn these terms? what is the intent behind their use? what are the effects of these epithets on the victim? or the victimizer? How does this behavior relate to other forms of injustice in the community? How might students engage in resolving their differences or disagreements in ways that do not dishonor one another? Dialogues such as this should be consistently introduced and encouraged among students within the context of the classroom, so that they may come to understand how their attitudes and behaviors affect others and, more importantly, so that they may commit to engage democratically on behalf of those who are oppressed. Through their participation in this process, students have the opportunity to express racialized feelings and consider how these relate to their everyday lives, and thus to become more conscious of their own investment in racializing attitudes and behaviors. In the process, they also learn to contend with how racism affects the conditions that exist both in their communities and out in the world and from this, develop strategies for 105

countering racism when they encounter it in their own lives. However, for bicultural students, the dialogue must extend further. It must also assist them to identify the different ways in which their relationship with the dominant culture has conditioned them to take on contradictory attitudes and beliefs about themselves that can cause them to participate unintentionally in the perpetuation of their own oppression.


The Culture of the Teacher whenever educators begin seriously to confront the complexity of teaching in bicultural communities, they also begin to question what impact the teacher’s cultural background has on her or his ability to educate successfully students of color. It is an important question to consider within the context of a critical bicultural pedagogy—particularly because of the profound nature of cultural belief systems and their relationship to questions of identity and social power. In addition, it brings into the arena of discussion notions of cultural differences with respect to the roles that teachers play if they are from the dominant culture, versus those who are from subordinate cultures. As suggested earlier, in their efforts to learn about different cultural communities, teachers generally pursue materials that address the more visible or tangible aspects of cultural experience while neglecting the deep structural values that inform the cultural worldviews of subordinate groups. In conjunction with this, teachers have been socialized to believe that by simply gathering or obtaining information on any particular subject they can come to know it. yet, learning about a culture from a book or a few seminars does not constitute knowing the culture. This is particularly true with respect to understanding the daily lived experiences of a community and the historicity of social forces that work to shape and shift how its members interact in the world. For example, someone who is not Hopi might read many books or articles about the Hopi Nation and yet still not know what it means to grow up as a Hopi in American society. This has also become more evident as teachers contend with an increasing number of Muslim children entering U.S. schools—children whose community beliefs and customs may vary while also running counter to mainstream life (Kincheloe, Steinberg, & Stonebanks, 2010; Rizvi, 2005). To even begin to comprehend the bicultural experience requires that teachers from the dominant culture invest time and energy in establishing critical dialogues with people of color, if they wish to understand their communities better. Even then, teachers must recognize and respect that their process of learning and knowing is inherently situated outside the cultural milieu and is therefore different from the knowledge obtained from living within a particular cultural community. This is an essential understanding for teachers who have been raised in the dominant culture and whose cultural reference point is based on the privileges afforded them by Euroamerican values that are more likely in sync with those of most mainstream institutions (McIntosh, 1988). This is not to say that all Euroamericans conform to these values, but rather to suggest that, even in states of nonconformity, Euroamerican values represent a central reference point from which individuals of the dominant culture move toward or move away from in the course of their personal and institutional relationships. This reference point also dictates the multitude of subject positions that individuals from the dominant culture assume in their lives with respect to class, gender, sexuality, spirituality, politics, and other ideological categories related to worldview. The biculturation process represents an attempt to describe the dynamics at work when members of racialized populations interact with the contradictions that arise growing up in a primary culture (and class) that conflicts with that of the dominant mainstream. As such, members from subordinate groups find ways to cope and function within institutional environments that, on the one hand, generally undermine and curtail their rights to equality and, on the other, push them to assimilate the values of the dominant culture (Darder, 1995). The different ways in which bicultural people attempt to resolve the tension created by such forces are reflected in the predominant response patterns they utilize to survive, discussed earlier. what complicates this process further is the manner in which Euroamerican values are perpetuated through hegemonic forces of social control, while the primary values of African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, Asians, Arabs, and other cultural groups are relegated to a subordinate or second-class status in American society. The consequence is that very often people of color, whose bicultural voices and experiences have been systematically silenced and negated, may not necessarily be fully conscious of the manner in which institutional racism and class privilege have influenced their individual development, nor how this internalized gaze can distort perceptions of their own cultural group. Therefore, the fact that a person is bicultural does not guarantee that she or he occupies a position of resistance to such domination. In fact, under current social conditions, it is not unusual to find people of color in positions of power who seem to ignore issues of social 107

power and perpetuate ideas and beliefs that can work to the detriment of their own people. Hence, if educators are to consider questions connected to the cultural backgrounds of teachers who work with bicultural students, it is important that those teachers from subordinate cultural groups not be reified into a single homogenous identity. Contentious and competing ideologies and class differences within cultural communities, for example, must be acknowledged, if we are to prevent essentialist arguments, such as those proclaiming that only teachers of color can effectively educate students of color. Instead, what we need is the courage, willingness, and desire to speak honestly to those issues that relate directly to how individuals define their cultural identity and how this influences their practice with bicultural students and their families. How teachers perceive the notion of cultural identity is especially important, given that the majority of public school educators in the United States are still members of the dominant culture, and that most educators—of all cultures—have been schooled in traditional pedagogical models. Hence, the teacher’s cultural background, espoused ideology, and academic preparation embody equally important areas of concern in our efforts to create conditions that are conducive to culturally democratic life in schools today. If public schools are to effectively meet the educational needs of bicultural students, then they must work in collaboration with bicultural educators, students, parents, and their communities. Anything short of this effort suggests an educational process that can be further disempowering working-class students of color. Again, this is not to imply that all teachers in bicultural communities must necessarily be teachers of color, but rather to emphasize that it is an arrogant and patronizing gesture for educators from the dominant culture to think that they can meet the needs of a culturally diverse community when they fail to work in solidarity with educators, parents, and other members of that community (olivos, 2006). Efforts to establish solidarity among culturally diverse groups require relationships based on mutual respect and equality. white teachers need to abandon, willingly, unfair notions of entitlement and privilege so they may enter into relationships with people of color that support their antiracist and anticolonial struggles. This requires that white educators acknowledge the manner in which people of color have been historically disenfranchised and subordinated to inferior positions in the society at large and the manner in which public education has played a significantly political role in perpetuating this process of racialization. They must come to see how these injustices actually exist in their own profession, by the very nature of the assumptions that inform their practice. For example, it is not unusual to find bicultural/bilingual instructional aides with ten or more years of experience in the classroom working under inexperienced white middleclass teachers who know very little about the actual needs of bicultural students. yet, when such conditions are challenged as part of a wider struggle for more bilingual/bicultural teachers, it is interesting to note the manner in which questions of social control, ultimately, inform the responses of many public school districts. Rather than create conditions for well-experienced instructional aides to complete their education and receive certification, many large urban school districts have imported teachers from Spain and other countries (Boghossian, 2007). These are teachers who, in fact, are less knowledgeable of the American bicultural experience than Euroamerican educators. This illustrates only one of the ways in which a process of hegemony operates in public schools to sabotage the transformative struggles of oppressed communities and to ensure the perpetuation of the status quo. Such forms of hegemony can be understood by teachers and challenged in the course of their work. Further, in order for bicultural students to develop both an individual and social sense of empowerment in their lives, they need to establish relationships with both white and bicultural teachers who are genuinely committed to a democratic vision of community life. when students actually experience teachers from the dominant culture working alongside their bicultural colleagues to address conflicting issues related to cultural differences, they also come to better understand the workings of cultural democracy in vivo, as they witness and participate in cross-cultural dialogues that respect and honor the rights and humanity of all people. Critical educators from the dominant culture demonstrate a spirit of solidarity and possibility when they willingly challenge both cultural values and institutional conditions of inequality, despite the fact that these potentially function to their material benefit. Their refusal to accept social conditions of entitlement and privilege for themselves at the expense of oppressed groups helps to lay the groundwork for relations with people of color based on their solidarity and commitment to social justice and equality. Such educators truly recognize the need to create conditions in the classroom that support the empowerment of students of color and can open opportunities that historically may have remained closed to these students. Euroamerican teachers working from this perspective can extend support to programs in schools and society that expand the 108

possibilities for equal opportunity—as important beginning efforts toward social equality—rather than seeing these programs as somehow taking something away from members of the dominant culture. This speaks to an understanding of teachers not only as cultural workers and important agents for social change, but also as ethical and civic examples of democratic life for their students. It is also essential that students of color experience a variety of teachers of color during the course of their schooling. Bicultural educators who are socially conscious bring a wealth of knowledge and experience that often resonates with the realities that students of color experience in their own lives. Many of these teachers, who may also be bilingual, understand the complexity of their students’ cultural worldviews, are knowledgeable about their history and literature, are cognizant of the different styles in which students learn and communicate, are conscious of the cultural rules of appropriate relationships and interactions, and know more intimately the community dynamics of their students. As a consequence, bicultural teachers are generally more able to use their own learning experiences and lived cultural knowledge to develop effective curricula that engage with issues related to cultural diversity. In addition, through their knowledge of the cultural community, they are able to find ways in which to integrate the students’ lived culture into classroom relationships and their learning. They are also more genuinely able to affirm and support the development of the bicultural voice, given their ability to engage more intimately with the lived conditions of cultural domination and resistance. Hence, it must be recognized that bicultural teachers can serve as vital role models for students of color—many of whom have seldom experienced, firsthand, people of color in positions of institutional power or influence. (Villalba et al., 2007; Zirkel, 2002). Most importantly, through their experiences with critical bicultural educators, bicultural students are more concretely challenged in their intellectual formation, as they are equally supported in redefining possibilities within the context of American society.


Transforming the Context of Teaching Critical bicultural educators have to consider creative ways in which they can work to remake classroom environments that support democratic life. The manner in which this is done must take into account not only the specific needs that bicultural students bring into the classroom, but also the needs that teachers have in order to be more effective educators. Through gaining a better understanding of the lived histories and daily lives of both students of color and their teachers, classroom structures can be transformed to reflect meaningful social relationships and critical pedagogical approaches that are built on the principles of cultural democracy. Just as students must be critically challenged to redefine the possibilities for transforming the world, their teachers should be actively involved in such a process within their own praxis. First of all, efforts by teachers to promote the development of voice, participation, social responsibility, and solidarity are strongly reflected in the ways they physically structure and situate the learning environment in their classrooms. A few changes might include these: Arrange the furniture, and in particular the seating in the room, to permit free physical movement of students about the classroom. Freedom of mobility is important to cognitive development and a sense of empowerment. Design classroom spaces in ways that promote group learning and creative collaborative among students. Generate classroom bulletin boards in conjunction with the participation of students, who can be encouraged to utilize materials that are meaningful to their lives. This form of expression can then be used to stimulate dialogues about how these materials are linked to student dreams, aspirations, everyday lives, and cultural histories. Create curricular activities that provide students opportunities to converse in their home languages with one another and to introduce various aspects of their language experience to other students. Actively involve students in the development of classroom rules and in making decisions about classroom activities whenever possible. In addition, involve them in dialogues designed to assist them in considering the consequences of rules and decisions made with respect to themselves as individuals and the class as a learning community. Whenever possible, expand the classroom experience out into the surrounding community to provide students opportunities to generate learning activities that are linked more organically to conditions of their everyday world. Incorporate consistently multimedia technology in ways that provide bicultural students greater creative possibilities to enact a wide range of learning styles and, as such, access and utilize more easily their lived cultural knowledge within the context of their learning (Sleeter & Tettegah, 2002). However, it is important to note that these suggestions, in and of themselves, do not constitute a recipe, for the only manner in which a critical pedagogy can evolve fully is within relational democratic conditions that promote environmental justice (Kahn, 2010; Andrzejewski, Baltodano, & Symcox, 2009). This signals the cultivation of classroom relationships where the human interconnectedness and respect for all life is made central to pedagogical concerns. And this, of course, can occur only in a classroom context defined by the relationships that teacher and students compose within their daily life together. Hence, prescribed lesson plan, curriculum, or activity should not supersede the actual and present human needs that students express or teachers identify, at any moment. Learning is a collective human experience by which knowledge and meaning are produced within the complexity of a multitude of potential responses that can be generated between and among students and teachers alike. That said, what we know, from the earlier discussion of the brain, is that environmental factors have a powerful impact on cognitive development and hence the academic achievement of students from racialized communities (Brooks-Gunn et al., 1996; Crane, 1994). Also important to creating democratic classroom practices are the working conditions that teachers find in public schools. Critical bicultural educators must explore ways in which to transform the conditions of their 110

labor so that schools, as workplaces, can embody an emancipatory vision and praxis of education. Some suggestions toward this end include: The development of cross-cultural teaching teams in schools with large bicultural student populations, which provide an ideal opportunity for teachers across communities to work together as colleagues and agents for social change. The initiation of on-going critical “professional development” opportunities for teachers to become knowledgeable in the principles of a critical bicultural pedagogy. This would provide teachers the opportunity to better understand the bicultural experience of students and to examine together their own prejudices and biases related to issues of cultural diversity. Greater involvement of teachers and students in the development, evaluation, and selection of texts, films, and other instructional materials. Ongoing collaborations with parents and community members in working together to support culturally relevant curriculum, school-community activities, and other gatherings that cultivate democratic communication and positive working relationships of solidarity, among teachers, parents, and community members. Establishment of regular teach-ins or public forums within schools and communities to critically discuss issues related to bicultural students, such as bilingualism, the bicultural process, the academic needs of students, active parent involvement in the classroom, and other pressing community needs. Create opportunities for teachers to participate together in ongoing dialogues about readings;6 collaborate together on writing projects related to their practice; and design “teacher as researcher”7 opportunities not only to continue their “professional” development but also to contribute grounded knowledge about teaching in meaningful ways to the field, and promote collegiality and solidarity through their commitment to cultural democracy and social justice within schools and the larger society. In addition, teachers should consistently struggle to transform the structural conditions related to both outof-class work and class size. Much of the demoralization teachers experience is not, for the most part, a consequence of low pay; but rather, it is more closely linked to the powerlessness generated by working in an environment that is fundamentally incompatible with engaging the complexities of teaching a culturally diverse student population. To address this issue, public school teachers might begin by demanding that the number of students in their classrooms be limited to twenty. It is not unusual to find public schools in large urban settings where teachers are still assigned up to forty students, with limited assistance from an instructional aide. one of the most significant actions that teachers’ unions can take, at this point in time, is to assume an uncompromising posture with respect to the issue of class size, which must also include the struggle for better-prepared teachers, culturally relevant curriculum, inclusive pedagogy, as well as greater public space allocated to schools, particularly in largely populated urban areas (Bohrnstedt & Stecher, 2002). Moreover, it is well documented that students are more successful in areas such as reading and mathematics when they receive more individualized attention from the teacher (Resnick, 2003; Finn, 2002; Boozer & Cacciola, 2001; Krueger & whitmore, 2001; Pritchard, 1999). So completely conscious of this fact are private schools that they use as a major selling point their policy of small class size. Teachers’ unions and other teacher organizations need to become advocates for themselves as well as for disenfranchised students, by asserting the entitlement of the latter to the rights enjoyed by students from privileged classes. Most importantly, teachers who are less burdened by the tremendous demands placed on them by large class size are more able to engage critically with the needs of bicultural students and their communities. Also of major importance is the struggle for the redefinition of the teacher’s workday. Seldom are teachers afforded opportunities to come together on an ongoing basis to reflect and dialogue critically about the concerns they experience in their efforts to meet the needs of their students. And even more seldom do they have the time to maintain some consistent form of personal contact with parents, despite the fact that studies clearly indicate this to be a significant factor in the achievement of bicultural students (olivos 2008, 2006, 2004; Rashid, 1981; Goldenberg, 1987; Cummins, 1986). Teachers too require institutional support in their efforts to develop working relationships with their colleagues, students, parents, and the communities in which they work. This can only take place when the teacher’s work is redefined more realistically to include both what 111

teachers are required to implement daily in their classrooms and those important tasks they must perform outside the classroom. But, of course, this redefinition and remaking of the classroom can only take place when teachers struggle together to transform the conditions of their labor within the context of a critical process that is generated by a living praxis for a better life—not only as educators but also as workers and free democratic citizens.


Beyond Despair Much frustration is evident in the attitudes and responses of many educators to the conditions they find in public schools. Many teachers blame the problems they experience on the increasing number of students of color. others are acutely aware that they were insufficiently prepared by teacher education programs to meet the needs of a culturally diverse student population. Still others experience a deep feeling of personal frustration, which they attribute to their own individual failure. In whatever way that teachers define the cause of their frustration, it is clear that their perceptions echo a great sense of growing despair and powerlessness across the society. It is important to note that those teachers who find themselves within public school conditions, where their voices are generally silenced and their opportunities to decide on curricula, texts, and other classroom requirements are limited, are most in danger of experiencing a sense of despair. Public school teachers in these environments must work together to challenge themselves and each other to move beyond the limitations they find in these schools. In addition, they must also move beyond their own dependency on traditional classroom structures and the traditional artifacts that sustain their disempowerment. Given the difficult and challenging conditions public school teachers often face, there is a need to cultivate their creative abilities and to better utilize commonplace materials and natural environments that can serve as ideal conditions for students to investigate the ordinary, and through doing so discover their potential power to create and change the world collectively. Given this approach, any classroom situation can potentially be converted into a critical environment as educators discover the multitude of pedagogical possibilities at their disposal. But this can only take place when educators courageously abandon old and disempowering notions of what is necessary and certain, and move beyond the boundaries of prescribed educational practice and into the realms of uncertainty, mystery, creativity, and discovery. As emphasized earlier, fundamental to creating the conditions for cultural democracy is a political commitment to a liberatory vision. A critical bicultural pedagogy can only emerge within a social context where teachers are grounded in a commitment to both individual and social empowerment. Hence, the smaller political endeavor of the classroom is not seen as simply an encapsulated moment in time, but rather it is consistently connected to a greater democratic political project. From this vantage point, teachers function as empowered social agents of history, firmly committed to communal struggles for transformation, as they seek to change and redefine those conditions which impact democratic voice, participation, and solidarity within schools. As teachers work in solidarity with their colleagues, parents, students, and community, they can discover together the strength of collective action; and through an affirming process of political grace, learn to move beyond despair (Darder & Yiamouyiannis, 2009). It is, in part, such a commitment to act on behalf of freedom and social justice that also serves as a powerful living example for students to discover their own personal power, social transformative potential, and spirit of hope. Embodied in this emancipatory spirit of hope is also a faith in the capacity of human beings to transform the oppressive and dehumanizing conditions that disconnect, fragment, and alienate us from one another. Grounded in a collective vision of liberation, critical educators seek out creative ways to expand the opportunities for students of color to become authentic and integral beings, despite the limitations of traditional curricula and prevailing social inequalities (Darder, 2002). In the process, students are encouraged to question the conflicts, contradictions, disjunctions, and partiality of knowledge forms—in their own lives as well. Consistently, liberatory educators also support and challenge bicultural students to struggle together so that they may come to know all the possibilities inherently available to them as cultural citizens. Through this critical process of discovery and empowerment, teachers and students can move in solidarity across the terrain of cultural differences, forging a living bicultural praxis that opens them to the knowledge hidden within their complexities. In this way, teachers and students embrace together the many ways to be human and the many ways to struggle for a world in which we can all know the beauty of a life affirming consciousness and the power of communal love.



Chapter 7 Forging a Critical Bicultural Praxis Stories From the Field

The dialectic between practice and theory should be fully lived ... Paulo Freire, Teachers as Cultural Workers, 1998

NO EDUCATIONAL THEORY IS WORTHY IF IT CANNOT FUNCTION TO CRITICALLY inform the daily lived practices of educators out in the field who labor each day to create conditions that support the development of voice and participation of bicultural students in the life of schools and communities. The power of philosophical ideas should be most readily witnessed not by the fluidity of their written composition upon the flat, compressed page, but rather by the manner in which these ideas can enliven the social imagination of educators and potentiate the dynamic expression of its practice. Inherent in this understanding is that a critical bicultural pedagogy must be lived. This is necessary so that along with the theoretical ideas that inform its practice, it can remain supple and reinventive within the ever-changing social and material conditions that shape the teaching and learning of both teachers and students as empowered individuals and members of society. The purpose of this chapter, then, is to create a space for critical educators who over the last twenty years have embraced the tenets of a critical bicultural pedagogy and its culturally democratic vision of schooling. What follows are fourteen short essays that take the reader through examples of how practitioners in the field have made sense of the ideas presented in this book and how they have worked, in their own unique ways, to construct a critical bicultural praxis with young children, youth, and adults, within both traditional and nontraditional educational settings. The intent here is provide readers with living examples of how a critical bicultural theory and practice of education can come together in a variety of ways, to create the possibilities for political empowerment and social transformation within bicultural communities in the United States—a transformation that can only occur when bicultural students are deeply grounded in collective identities that acknowledge their histories and integrate an ever-evolving politics of emancipatory life.


The Influence of a Critical Bicultural Theory to Development of the Soγ Bilingüe Adult Dual Language Model Sharon Cronin, Early Childhood Educator, Director of the Institute for Cultural and Linguistic Democracy “γo cantaré mi Bomba, la cantaré ... ”

I found my bicultural voice in the sixth grade under the loving guidance, dedicated support, and effective strategies of the leaders of the Ethnic Minority Coalition on Bainbridge Island, a thirty-minute ferryboat ride from Seattle, Washington. I was born into a vibrant Caribbean extended family and community in the Bronx, New York; our move to this predominantly European American semirural community was jarring. When my visibly European American father first came to the island, he was welcomed. When my Jamaican Colombian mother arrived with their five children of mixed heritage, sentiments changed. We were blessed to have been welcomed into the Filipino Native American community of Bainbridge Island and supported by this coalition of activists and advocates. At the time the Ethnic Minority Coalition formed, educational outcomes for students of color were bleak. Many children from this Filipino and Native American community did not pass kindergarten. High school graduation rates were low. There was nothing in the school’s curriculum that spoke to the cultural background or historical contributions of this community. There were very few adults within the district that stood up for bicultural children. My siblings and I had related experiences when we arrived. I remember, as a first-grade student entering an already established classroom community, children were not particularly friendly and that something was not “right” with the exchange. I had just received a hand-me-down, blue-and-white, fake-fur, cow-patterned coat. I was convinced that the treatment was due to the ugly coat that I had been forced to wear. I made a note to myself to lose that coat on the way home, which I did. I do not remember what the consequence was for losing the coat; however, I do remember that losing the coat did not resolve the challenges that I was experiencing at the school. One of my most vivid memories of my schooling was sitting in history class, listening to the teacher present misinformation about my own cultural group, cast in a negative light and as if I were not in the room. I remember the physical impact it had on me. My palms were sweaty, my ears ringing, and my heart and throat ached because I could not say anything. I wanted to protest. I wanted to scream; but I just could not get the words to come out of my mouth. I felt rage. This all changed when the advocates of the Ethnic Minority Coalition began to work with us. They brought the children of color of the school together and asked us about our experiences. We shared our stories and prepared and practiced our speaking skills until we were ready to go before the school board and speak about our challenges. We were nervous, but we were ready. I remember that we were all dressed up in our best clothing and empowered with our collective strength. When it got to be my turn to face the block of older European American men seated before us with solemn expressionless faces, I hesitated for just an instance, and then, within the supportive space created by the elders and camaraderie of the other students, the built-up pressure of a silenced voice exploded, and I began to talk. In that moment of putting to work all that we had discussed and practiced, my bicultural voice emerged, and I never stopped using it to this day. Through participating in this process, I learned a lifelong and powerful lesson. I learned that groups of people can organize, stand up for themselves and their children, address injustices, and change the quality of life for children and families. A few years later, in this very same community and with some of the very same community organizers, I developed my voice as an emerging transformative teacher working as a youth worker and teacher’s aide in a culturally responsive summer school program. Since my first teaching experiences were under the guidance of these excellent, caring teachers (such as Colleen Almojuela) modeling linguistically and culturally responsive practice, I was never able to accept anything less than this kind of highquality, socially oriented, child-centered approach in working with children. With great wisdom, insight, and cross-cultural generosity, the leaders of this coalition, mostly the Filipino and Native American community of people of color, looked for ways to support the ethnic identity 116

development of the young people from other cultural backgrounds. I had the opportunity to go to a Bob Marley concert in Seattle, one of his few appearances in the northwest, and to visit El Centro de la Raza, a communitybased organization in Seattle, Washington, and meet the executive director, Roberto Maestas, a community leader and skilled organizer. He had a deep love for children and demonstrated the importance of cross-cultural solidarity to work on behalf of all children. I served as a volunteer and youth worker at El Centro de la Raza and later went on to serve as director of El Centro’s José Martí Child Development Center for many years. Together with teachers, parents, community organizers, and volunteers, we developed bilingual bicultural approaches to working with young children in multicultural settings. My theoretical and skill base was further strengthened by such leaders as Juan Juárez, Ramón Soliz, and Felipe González at the University of Washington’s Bilingual Teacher Education Program in the 1980s. In the spring semester of 1990, in Antonia Darder’s Seminars in Bicultural Development: Freire’s Pedagogic Model and Its Implications for Bicultural Education, I was able to further reflect upon and discuss these, using her theoretical framework of bicultural development. It was a magical and uplifting experience. Antonia’s work spoke to the very essence of our beings as students of color. Critical bicultural pedagogy was our daily lives. The discourse was extremely validating. The bicultural specialization course fully resonated with my lived experiences. Not only did it impact many of us as individuals, but it was also a turning point for this community of progressive educators as a group. Many of the people who participated in the class went on to take action to improve the education of bicultural children, both individually and collectively, in the Seattle Area and Pacific Northwest. The rest is a community’s love story of collective conscientization or reading the world, finding and developing bicultural voice, examining and working with cultural response patterns, building cultural competency and cross-cultural solidarity, counteracting hegemony, forging critical pedagogy practices with very young children, and struggling to create pockets of cultural democracy.

Reading the World: Identifying Power Relations and Challenges As we began to identify the challenges, power dynamics, and oppressive elements impacting the lives of children, youth, and families of our community, the resulting home language loss and cultural genocide were high on our list. We examined the way that the negative messages that children constantly received about their language, culture, family background, and physical appearances from the media, major institutions (schools, clinics, stores), and neighborhoods were affecting their very sense of self and self-worth. Since many of us were early childhood educators, we honed in on how this played out in the early years of a child’s life. We were also well aware of the gap in academic achievement between students of color and European American students in the later grades of public school. We participated in reading the world at various levels and groupings. Individually, we noticed what was happening (or not happening) in the classrooms where our own children attended. We supported our children in being able to recognize and identify bias in their own lives and classroom settings. We met as groups of teachers and parents. We held a series of ethnic-specific task group studies initiated by the first such group, the King County African American Child Care Taskforce. We held community summits to examine the information gathered and to create action agendas and strategic plans to address the issues raised. We were operating within the historical context, when the words bilingual education had been shunned from public use within the larger early childhood education community. We continued to advocate for more programs for young children that were linguistically and culturally relevant. In most classrooms, children of color did not find anything that represented their family life, cultural background, or familiar experiences. There were no books, puzzles, posters, or games that reflected them. Their home language was not used or validated. Parents did not feel invited into the programming. Bicultural parents were not seen as contributing anything of value to their children’s education or development. Teachers, programs, and communities that wanted to try a bilingual, multicultural approach did not have many options for obtaining this information or skill base in teacher education programs, in-service or preservice trainings, or degree programs. Early childhood education trainings and conferences covered how to keep children safe and germ-free, but not how to support children’s linguistic or cultural development. Sessions 117

were conducted entirely in English and were void of content reflective of the lived experiences of teachers of color. It was rare for students of color to see someone who looked like them teaching college classes. Teachers who were learning English as a second (or third) language, were forced to take seemingly endless ESL classes before they could begin coursework in their field of choice, so that obtaining the two-year Associate of Arts degree took seven or eight years, if it were obtained at all. Teachers were not gaining skills in working with bicultural children, supporting first and second language development, and in teaching children to read the world and the word.

The Power of the Theory of Bicultural Development There is a certain power and enlightening feeling when a student participates in a profound dialogue—a rich exchange of ideas—and she listens intently to the teacher or a leader describe a phenomenon and explain the theoretical workings of said phenomenon, and she suddenly realizes that the teacher is telling a part of her life story. I think there might be an audible click as the images in her mind line up and she has this sudden realization and perfect clarity regarding the theoretical model the teacher is presenting. Now that is priceless. At one point, a European American educator commented that Darder’s book Culture and Power in the Classroom was too theoretical and difficult for our community of mostly Latino and African American early childhood education students. She recommended that we begin with a more accessible text. We found that that could not have been farther from the truth. Culture and Power in the Classroom was the perfect book. It spoke directly to our lived experiences and served in many cases as a personalized road map along the way to conscientization. As our community began to examine the phenomenon of home language loss, we pulled heavily from Darder’s explanations of hegemony. We discussed the hegemonic pull of the English language and its contribution to home language rejection and eventual loss. We told stories of our experiences, like when my son, Carlitos, emphatically announced that he only heard in English and refused to listen to any more bedtime stories in Spanish. We perused our collective memory bank to identify and examine strategies that had been used to counteract the hegemonic pull of English and the rejection of the home language. These were shared, discussed, written down, and distributed in various formats and texts. From these, new ideas were generated. One was related to playing music in your home language first thing in the morning to start off each day with the children’s mind and aesthetic hearts aligned with their home language. Children’s home language loss and rejection is a painful process for the parents and grandparents. As the child rejects the language, it feels to the family as if the child were rejecting them as well. Unfortunately, it is almost inevitable in bicultural communities in the United States when children participate in early childhood programs in English. It can even happen in bilingual early childhood programs. Lily Wong-Filmore’s (1991) study shed light on this phenomenon. Her group of volunteer researchers interviewed scores of parents of dual language learners. In 2004, Soy Bilingüe: Language, Culture, and γoung Latino was published. Both students of Antonia Darder, Carmen Sosa Massó and I wrote the book fully grounded in the theory of biculturalism. The book was a combination of my thesis documenting the practice of bilingual early childhood educators and Carmen’s many notes on workshops and in-service trainings for the teachers of her bilingual early childhood education program, La Escuelita Bilingual School. Every time we sat down together to discuss and generate ideas, the magical life force of aligned dialogue thrust us forward into a rewarding, productive synergy. We were both extremely busy people with very full personal, professional, and community lives. We just did not have time to write. Getting together grounded in the theoretical constructs of Darder’s Sphere of Biculturation, though, was the secret. We pulled from the praxis of our reflective analysis and lived experiences and produced the document, which served for many as guiding principles for putting bicultural theory into practice. On one such day, we sat down and pulled out the following list portraying our recommended skill base for bilingual bicultural early childhood educators, stating that they Are fully bilingual, bicultural, and biliterate; are extremely resourceful with excellent problem-solving and collaborative leadership skills; and are prepared as agents of change and advocates for children and families. 118

Continually assess the social, political, and cultural contexts within which children and families live, grow, and develop; are aware of how culturally based social interactions shape development; and model strategies for supporting children in resisting bias, rejecting negative cultural messages, and developing their own sense of cultural self. Recognize parents as the first and primary educators of their young children; are aware of culturally specific child rearing and educating practices; and enter into dialogue and partnerships with parents. Know the processes associated with children developing their first and second languages; are aware of the impact of racial discrimination on linguistic and intellectual development; and establish culturally democratic learning communities in which children are not forced to choose between academic success and their cultural community, but instead develop critical, creative, and culturally relevant thinking skills in both languages. Are familiar with bilingual culturally relevant models of education; assess language and cultural backgrounds of children, parents, and staff members; observe the play and interactions of children; and design and implement program models that respond to the specific linguistic, cultural, and developmental needs of children, families, and staff members. Understand the role of culture and language in people’s lives; understand culturally relevant anti-bias approaches to education; and build curriculum based on the lived experiences, generative themes and interests, cultural and linguistic histories, and observations of play and interaction of the children and families in their programs. (Cronin & Sosa Massó, 2003, p. 7) Through the Soy Bilingüe book and the five-day seminar, we introduced Darder’s Sphere of Bicultural Development to the community. In one activity of the seminar, we present the cultural response patterns, using a short dramatization. Examining one pattern at a time, the participants are asked to think about and share the pros and cons for that response pattern. In other words, what might be the motivation for families to use a particular response pattern? what might be behind their actions? Then we ask, what might be the consequences of this response pattern? The session and the cultural response patterns were hugely popular. In the later 1990s, my colleague Judith Vega and I led ten Soy Bilingüe Seminars throughout oregon and helped a community of teachers sort out issues and develop transformative, culturally and linguistically relevant programming. The following is a short explanation of each response pattern that we use to guide the early childhood teachers:

Cultural Alienation: Rejecting own culture while fully embracing dominant culture Cultural Dualism: Living in both cultures (flip-flopping back and forth) Cultural Separatism: Immersing in own culture while rejecting dominant culture Cultural Negotiation: Keeping own culture while working on equity in dominant culture Source: Cronin, Vega, & sosa massó, 2003. In our community, perhaps the most cited passage from Darder’s book would be her definition of biculturalism. It succinctly and eloquently sums up a complex theory and lived phenomenon that resonated with many of the participants. This passage is cited in the Soy Bilingüe Workbook and has turned up in numerous student papers: Biculturalism refers to a process wherein individuals learn to function in two distinct sociocultural environments: their primary culture, and that of the dominant mainstream culture of the society in which they live. It represents the process by which bicultural human beings mediate between the dominant discourse of educational institutions and the realities that they must face as members of subordinate cultures. More specifically, the process of biculturation incorporates the different ways in which bicultural human beings respond to cultural conflicts and the daily struggle with racism and other forms of cultural invasion. (Darder, 1991, p. 48)

We have led this exercise over one hundred times, as a part of the Soy Bilingüe seminar and as a workshop for in-service trainings and early childhood education conferences. Usually the groups have been made up of predominantly people of color or intercultural groups. The session has always been very popular, with engaged participation and dialogue. one time we did this session with mostly African American parents at a conference 119

in Portland, Oregon. The dialogue grew stronger as people shared examples and examined the four cultural response patterns. one parent who had been listening intently suddenly came forward with a question regarding the cultural negotiation response pattern that was something like this: “why should we have to negotiate and fight for having our language and culture included in schools and other institutions?” It was so painfully true. It spoke directly to the injustice and frustration of these kinds of oppressive practices. It was the whole point of the exercise. The Soy Bilingüe seminar, as does Darder’s work, begins with an exercise in shifting the center from a monocultural and often Eurocentric setting to an emergence of seeds of cultural democracy. On the first day of the five-day seminar, participants arrive to the sounds of salsa music playing softly in the background. They are greeted warmly. Then the volume of the salsa music is turned down and the seminar springs to life with Bobi Céspedes’ rendition of Buenos Dias America. The participants are asked to come join in and dance or learn to dance salsa. A diagram of the basic directional instructions is posted: Adelante—Atras; a la izquierda— a la derecha, al centro. A few other commands in Spanish are also posted for special moves: Media vuelta, vuelta entera, cruzen en frente. The instructor demonstrates and calls out the movement using Spanish without translation. For many Latino participants, it is the first time that they hear their language used in a college setting or inservice training. They are the experts for this opening session. They are the ones who understand fully. The English-speaking participants often comment on how insightful this experience is for them, to be the ones struggling and concentrating to understand. For European American participants, it may be the first time that they are not in the majority, with their language and culture front and center. Many comment on the humbling experience as one that is valuable in their development of cross-cultural competency. All participants experience strategies of making language accessible so that language learners can understand without the need for translation (as with the instructions being demonstrated for the salsa session). It is not business as usual, and possibilities of cultural democracy begin to be established within the community formed for the seminar. At one point during one of the bicultural specialization classes with Darder, I recall a moment where we asked her about students of color having their own space—their own program. Antonia responded by pointing out the value in practicing cross-cultural communications and engagement with European American students so that students of color could develop their bicultural skill base. That dialogue and insight stuck with me and influenced the development of the Soy Bilingüe Adult Dual Language Model.

Bicultural Praxis in Our Communities Communities must spend time recognizing, celebrating, and relishing in the victories and accomplishments related to linguistic and cultural self-determination in education. Sosa Massó and her team at La Escuelita developed a rich ongoing dialogue and focused process of reflection and action resulting in bicultural praxis in the early childhood classroom. It is what a critical bicultural pedagogy looks like at the preschool level. In the Seattle Area and surrounding communities, we honor and celebrate the hard work of the teachers, parents, coaches, and administrators of La Escuelita Bilingual School, José Martí Child Development Center, Sea-Mar, Refugee women’s Alliance (RewA), Denise Louie Education Center, Black Star Line, El Carusel, Sound Child Care Solutions, and Skagit Island Head Start. We honor and celebrate our colleagues in the Oregon Child Development Coalition and San Francisco State University Head Start and Early Head Start. We have also spent time reflecting on outcomes and results in our work with teachers at the college level and with in-service sessions. We noticed that by shifting the center of our college-based learning communities from Eurocentrism to cultural democracy, the engagement with intra-Latino dialogue and dialogue among and between bicultural communities were also greatly enhanced. A working solidarity and collaboration was established and strengthened among communities of color such as Chinese and Latino or Latino and African American. College classrooms intentionally and consistently operating on the critical bicultural principles that Darder proposed in her work create effective opportunities for European American students to have authentic, sustained experiences in cross-cultural communication and work. There is nothing superficial about an engaged critical bicultural dialogue and praxis. It is a powerful and life-changing process for many individuals. The depth of reflection, interaction, and truth goes far below the surface. It is at once genuine, meaningful, and profound. One of our faculty members, Ronald Rosario, added 120

greatly to this process by introducing Theater of the oppressed to the learning community. Students develop their bicultural and cross-cultural voices and are poised for collaborative action, thusly described in the Soy Bilingüe Adult Dual Language Model for Early Childhood and Elementary Teacher Education: The development of a strong, collaborative learning community among the students of each cohort enables (1) the bicultural development of students of color, (2) the cross-cultural or cultural competency development of European American students, (3) the critical thinking skills of all participants, and (4) the cross-cultural solidarity and collaboration among all groups. one of the first steps along this process is supporting the students’ emerging conscientization or ability to read the power dynamics present in their lives and worlds. Students share stories from, reflect on, discuss, and analyze their life experiences and their experiences as learners and teachers. (Cronin, 2008, pp. 2–3)

As empowered and skilled agents of change, graduates have gone on to lead transformative efforts in their home communities. Bárbara Martínez steadily and systematically lead such a transformation at an agency north of Seattle, which was mostly using an English-only approach with their predominantly Latino population of children and families. She held and guided a transformative process supporting the teachers to embrace a more linguistically and culturally responsive approach to the children. The Soy Bilingüe seminar and Darder’s Sphere of Biculturation were central to this process.

Bicultural Philosophy as a Rudder for Developing and Maturing My Practice Darder’s theory of bicultural education soundly guided our conceptual framework and informed and helped to consolidate our practice in bilingual and bicultural early childhood education and later our development of the Soy Bilingüe Adult Dual Language Model. In writing a forward for our Soy Bilingüe book, Darder introduced the metaphor of a ship without a rudder from one of José Martí’s poems. It again serves us well in examining the role her work in bicultural development has played in steadfastly guiding our praxis in working with teachers in our community. The core pedagogical components of the Soy Bilingüe Adult Dual Language Model include: (1) Language and Literacy Development, (2) Collaboration and Community Building, (3) Cultural Relevancy and Active Teaching, (4) Imagination and Cultural Expression, (5) Bicultural Voice and Cross-Cultural Competency, (6) Critical Thinking and Conscientization, and (7) Coaching and Accountability. (Cronin, 2008, p. 2)

And we addressed linguistic democracy by balancing language usage thusly: Language usage is organized around a 50/50 1/2-day alternating model. This means that for each class, Spanish is used for half the time and English is used half the time. The language that is used first for the day alternates day by day. Students are pushed to use Spanish during Spanish language time and English during English language time. Students are encouraged to take risks and try out their emerging second language development during small or large group discussions. Translation equipment is used initially to stimulate deep level thinking and rigorous academic exchange between the two language groups. The use of translation is steadily decreased with the goal of students fully participating in both the Spanish and English time blocks without the need for translation by the third year. Students study together in collaborative cohorts of 32–40 students over a three-year period in team-taught classes. Approximately half the participants are Spanish dominant and half are English dominant. Speakers of other languages are also welcome. Spanish dominant and English dominant students are matched for classroom activities and work outside of class as bilingual buddies (language partners). Each member of the pair is charged with the task of supporting the second language development of their bilingual buddy. (Cronin, 2008, pp. 3–4)

Leadership and Capacity Building We feel that we have contributed to a larger movement in biculturalism through developing the capacity of our teachers at individual and collaborative levels and through the dedicated work with young children. We have beautiful stories of how the children we worked with have grown up and gone on to use their bicultural voices, confident in themselves and their communities, and their love of life in many different, productive, and transformative ways. Each group of graduates steeped in bicultural theory has taken the work to another level. We have invested in the next generation. There have been countless setbacks and losses, deep wounds and pain; however, we remain optimistic about the future. An ongoing challenge echoed by many has been the fear that the time we spend organizing, studying, and going that needed extra mile has taken away from us spending time with our own children. We do our best to have our work benefit our own families as well as our communities. Recently, I was driving my six-year-old son, Reynaldo, to his first day of school in his new dual language elementary school. Although he began as a fairly balanced emerging bilingual, English became his stronger 121

language over the years. At several times during that time, I feared he was at the point of fully rejecting his Spanish language. The threat was always simmering right below the surface. I would speak to him in Spanish; he would respond in English. But at least he was responding and understanding everything that I said to him. That is a partial, yet significant victory that parents must celebrate. I casually put on a CD with Puerto Rican Bomba and Plena music (you cannot make a big deal of it—the music just happens to be playing in the background). After a while of playing the music, I hear his soft voice singing along to the coro with perfect pronunciation, “Yo cantaré mi Bomba, la cantaré,” and I think to myself, “Hegemonic pull of English—defeated this morning!”


Consciousness Parenting Circles An African-Centered Bicultural Pedagogy Makungu Akinyela, Professor and Family Therapist Twenty years ago I was introduced to the ideas of bicultural identity, cultural democracy, and bicultural voice. This was the beginning of a powerful and life-changing journey that has continued to be a major influence on my professional, academic, and personal life. As a graduate student studying with Antonia Darder, as she prepared her own work to be published in Culture and Power in the Classroom (1991), I was given key analytical tools that helped to shape my pedagogical practices as an educator and psychotherapist. At that time, I already believed and continue to believe that an African-centered perspective was critical for African American communities in the day-to-day struggles for social change and liberation. The critical theory grounded in the bicultural pedagogy introduced by Darder helped to sharpen and more clearly define those ideas. Her critical work on biculturalism shaped my understanding of how to practically apply Africancentered practices in the classroom, the therapy room, and in my day-to-day community work. Darder’s ideas were highly important to the development of Conscious Parenting Family Circles (1996) and later my theoretical and practical work with Testimony Therapy (Akinyela, 2002, 2008).

Why African-Centered Practice? I was trained as a family therapist. In recent years, there have been various expansions on the field of family therapy such as a feminist critique of patriarchal ideas (Werner-Wilson, 1997; Avis, 1986; Goodrich et al., 1988) and numerous cultural critiques of the field, as well as revisioning of family therapy through a multicultural lens (McGoldrick, 1998). Perhaps most significantly, since the 1980s, family therapy has been challenged by postmodern or social constructionist theories of change (Parry & Doan, 1994; Freedman & Combs, 1996). Many of us were happy to see the long-awaited second edition of Nancy Boyd-Franklin’s (1989) Black Families in Therapy. Boyd-Franklin’s groundbreaking book was for a long time the only text on family therapy that not only was written about Black people but also, in the self-conscious voice of a Black therapist. Even today, Boyd-Franklin’s book is one of the few written from this perspective. With these important developments in mind, we must still note that there have been few attempts to articulate an approach to family therapy that not only speaks in the interest of Black families but also challenges the universality of theoretical and cultural assumptions at the heart of dominant western therapeutic paradigms (Akinyela, 2002). This is the objective of an African-centered family therapy such as Testimony therapy, to provide the African American community with a bicultural voice from which African American people can speak their own special truths. The bicultural voice, as Darder argues, is critical to the establishment of cultural democracy, in which the voices, ideas, needs, and concerns of each cultural community is not only heard but valued and adhered to as well. This is a therapy that speaks self-consciously about the cultural practices of therapy with Black families in the African Diaspora. It is a therapy that begins with the collective, social, cultural and historical experiences of Africans in America and strives to interpret the impact of the collective experience in the lives of communities, families and individuals. In this light, Testimony Therapy situates itself in and draws knowledge from the cultural metaphors, symbols, archetypes, and spirituality of African people. when African people are able to experience the therapeutic process from this place of cultural centeredness and authenticity, it can prove to be a liberating experience for both the therapist and those who consult with us. African-centered therapy acknowledges the significance of asymmetrical power relations in shaping the life experiences of Africans living in a society dominated by the discourse of European (Western) cultural hegemony. Africentricity provides a much-needed critique of the western cultural hegemony’s impact on the everyday lives of Black people, while challenging assumptions of universal applicability of European therapeutic practices. African-centered therapy asserts the 123

agency of African people as self-determining subjects with their own resources for healing. In taking this stance, the African-centered therapist looks to indigenous practices, metaphors, spiritualities and understandings of mental health and wellness to set the pace for our therapeutic work with families and individuals.

Conscious Parenting Family Circles Beginning from this African-centered standpoint, Conscious Parenting Family Circles encourage therapeutic conversations through structured dialogues in which participants in the Circles define their own parenting and other family concerns and uncover knowledge within an intentional community about alternative ways of parenting. Circle facilitators are able to hear the stories of Circle participants drawn from their everyday experiences. These stories are often problem saturated (white & Epston, 1990) tales of doom and gloom. Facilitators listen for problems that are often assumed to be solely individual and internal problems, so that they can be externalized and re-presented to the group as community problems. These doom and gloom stories of parenting and family life provide source material for curriculum development of this parenting education approach. The pedagogical problems developed from the doom and gloom stories are re-presented in the form of poems, pictures, skits, stories, music or other creative methods representing the problems identified in group members’ stories. By re-presenting these problems to the group, participants work on real-life issues, rather than being presented with hypothetical parenting issues based on the cultural, class, gender and other bias of curriculum developers. This dialogical approach encourages participants to examine issues in their homes as well as to challenge and seek solutions to issues in the larger society that affect the quality of their lives and their ability to parent. In this way, Family Circles help participants to develop attitudes of self-determination and skills for self-help and guidance in the lives of their households. The process emphasizes the importance of collective work and provides family participants with a practical experience of developing community and a sense of collective self-help.

The Politics of Parenting what is the relationship between culture and power in this approach? My first challenge to the standard approach to teaching parenting was to question the assumption that parenting is a universally homogenous practice, that is, that all parenting derives from the same sociocultural experience. As I questioned my own understanding, I acknowledged my belief that parenting, like all other social practices, is socially constructed and culturally mediated and that parenting practices are meaningful to parents only when linked to the social, cultural, and historical context of the community in which they live. Second, I acknowledged that parenting practices and assumptions about appropriate behavior and relationships are shaped by the economics of class privilege. Third, it was clear to me that assumptions about parenting responsibility and propriety are shaped by social ideas of gender relations. All of these assumptions are expressed in the various curriculum material that I was expected to present to the parent-students who attended my classes. These assumptions are guided by a dominant and dominating discourse that privileges the parenting practices and experiences and presumed norms of white, middle-class people. In addition, the discourse about the role of women and the primary responsibility of mothers to their children (as opposed to fathers) guided much of the mainstream thinking about both parenting classes in particular and the child welfare system in general. In practice, the results of this Eurocentric discourse is that social workers, prosecutors, judges, and others involved in the child welfare system are influenced by strong biases against poor women of color, who, because of a combination of cultural difference as well as economic conditions, may not practice parenting in ways that are deemed to be in sync with the dominant discourse. Consequently, the vast majority of parents caught up in the system and required to take parenting courses have historically been poor women of color who are assumed to be incapable of proper parenting. The assumption of the incompetence of these women as parents results in disproportionate reporting to child protective services by mandated reporters and others, and thus disproportionate separation rates of children who are taken from their families and thrown into the foster 124

care system. Hence, the mandate for mostly female parents to take parenting classes as part of their requirement to have their children returned to them is largely based on racial, gender, and class biases informed by the dominant discourse on these matters. As I thought about these things, it was no surprise to me then that many of the parents who came to the agency and who were mandated by the courts to take these classes were resentful and resistant to listen to what I might have to say. They were victimized by this dominant, oppressive discourse that reflected the traditional pedagogy that has shaped most of us in this society. Traditional American pedagogy ensures racial, gender, and class dominance through Euro-centric hegemonic practices. As Darder argues, this dominance is maintained in the assertions of neutrality and objectivity of educational practices. Education is assumed to be nonbiased and apolitical, when in reality educational practices are profoundly political and guided by evident, yet unspoken, bias predicated on racial, gender, sexual, and class formations. This hidden curriculum of dominance and hierarchy that is first experienced in relationships between teachers and students in the education system also shapes the social, cultural, and political relationships and practices of every other area of our lives. In this way, traditional pedagogy (Darder, 1991; Freire, 1970) maintains the status quo of social relations, by asserting the dominance of teachers over students, whites over people of color, men over women, and the wealthy over the poor. Traditional pedagogy insures that each person is trained to assume his or her proper role and place in the social order. on the other hand, critical pedagogy can be useful in teaching transgressive practices and thinking (hooks, 1994), which may contribute to the transformation and democratization of society. This was the process of my thinking as I was challenged by the problem of teaching parenting to poor and working-class bicultural parents, who resented the intrusion of a racist, sexist, and classist child protective and court system into their lives. They saw both the agency for which I worked and me, as it’s agent, as simply an extension of that system.

Knotting, Unknotting, and Creating the Community Story The Conscious Parenting program lasts for twelve sessions. During the first four sessions, the facilitator is a student and is focused on listening for themes about parenting and everyday life from the stories told by participants. After listening to the thematic stories of the Circle, the Facilitator is challenged to bring these themes to the group in such a way as to make the individual themes valuable to each person in the group as a whole. These re-presentations of the problems in thematic stories are called Knots. This is a metaphor from Testimony Therapy that describes the problems that people present as they come to therapy. This metaphor is inspired by west African and Diasporic folk culture in which the Trickster deity, Esu-leggba, provides Knots to be unraveled to human beings. These “knots of Esu” that must be unraveled are life problems that help us to develop good character as we solve them. Many of the stories brought to the group by participants, as stated earlier, are problem-saturated, doom and gloom stories that raise deep emotions and may appear to have no solutions. For example, how simple is it for a parent to resolve the dilemma of trying to parent a child who is aware that the parent is under court order and cannot use corporal punishment? The child may threaten to call the police or social worker each time a conflict arises with the parent. The parent may now simply back off of any attempt to discipline the child for fear of further court or police intervention. This does not help the parent, the child, or their relationship. The task, then, in the problem-posing period of Conscious Parenting is to provide a structure for positive collective dialogue leading to indigenous, culturally appropriate, and empowering solutions. Good facilitation avoids allowing the sessions to degenerate into only opportunities to voice powerless complaints. By employing Knots as objects for discussion and by involving the Family Circle in an inductive process of questioning, the discussions may be kept focused on personal experiences. At the same time, personal experiences are fit into the broader cultural context and Circle participants collectively work out solutions. From the notes kept of previous sessions, the Facilitator creates Knots for further discussion. A Knot is a concrete physical representation of a particularly critical issue that has come up during the thematic story-telling phase. Knots should be a representation of problems and situations that are familiar and would be immediately recognized by the group. Knots should not be one-dimensional. This means that they should be represented as a problem with many sides and more than one solution. The Knot may even be 125

contradictory, so as to avoid sending the message that this particular Knot is giving the good or bad point of view. There should be no implicit solutions in the Knot. Keep it open ended and simple, and only deal with one issue at a time. The Knots produced should also not be overwhelming. They should offer possibilities for group affirmation and should require only small steps for making change. Different solutions to the Knot should emerge from the group in collective discussion. Knots may take several forms. They may be presented as written dialogue, a story written by the Facilitator, or even taken from a culturally appropriate book. For example, a story may have been heard about domestic violence in a marital relationship. The Facilitator might choose to have someone read a short scene from a novel in which similar violence occurs. It should be remembered that if the group is African American, or poor or working class, the Knot should reflect these dynamics. Knots can also be presented in a skit or picture collage. The Facilitator may even wish to introduce a particular song relevant to a situation discussed. Knots allow the group to gain some emotional distance from what could be an embarrassing or overwhelming subject. They also allow issues to be examined from the strength of the collective group rather than from the lonely place of individual isolation and alienation. By taking this Africentric stance, and with the use of culturally specific metaphors that resonate with the Black community, Testimony therapy and the family circles processes intentionally cultivate and nourish what Darder calls the “bicultural voice” and the importance of this voice in the empowerment of clients/ students and others with whom we work. Darder (1991) writes in Culture and Power in the Classroom, “The concept of voice constitutes one of the most important democratic essentials related to the process of student empowerment and the ability to participate in and influence the manner in which power is relegated in society” (p. 68). She continues to argue that this bicultural voice can only be developed when “students of color receive the opportunity to enter into dialogue with one another.” With this in mind, this approach to working with Black community participants encourages dialogue within the community. Knotting, then, can be understood as problem-posing education as defined by Paulo Freire (1970). when a Facilitator creates Knots for a group, the Knot becomes an object of collective learning for participants to focus on through conversation or dialogue. Through dialogue, the group members are able to define together their own learning problems and to reconstruct new ways of approaching an issue with the support and guidance of the Instructor/Facilitator. In this way, the Facilitator uses the group members’ own stories about their lives and experiences and develops problems from these stories to be collectively solved by the Circle. These individual source materials are called Thematic Stories in the Family Circle Group Process. With Knots, participants are presented with real-life issues from their lived experiences to learn from. By using this method, a group Facilitator works within the everyday cultural context of the group and is able, through dialogue, to deal with authentic problems and issues that confront group participants in their lives. Knotting and de-Knotting encourages critical thinking and problem solving about both individual and family issues that arise in the home, as well as the larger social issues that affect a family’s quality of life. By employing Knots as objects of discussion and by involving the Family Circle in an inductive process of questioning, the discussions remain focused on personal experiences, which are simultaneously introduced into the broader social cultural context as participants work out solutions together. Before presenting the Knot to the group, the Facilitator clearly defines for the group what the subject discussion will be for this presentation. “Today, we want to discuss ways to make sure that we have clear and effective communication between parents and our children.” If the Knot is a skit, characters should have clearly defined roles and motivations for their actions, which are explained to those playing the characters. The situation and the problem that ensues should also be made clear to the characters. The skit should be allowed to run no more than three minutes and should be stopped at the point of highest conflict. Photos and drawings used in the group as Knots should portray recognizable situations and should not be abstract. Music, film clips, and voice recordings should be clear and have a recognizable story line or subject matter. Poetry and other readings should also have a recognizable story line or subject matter.

The Unknotting Questioning Cycle Problem-posing education utilizing the cultural practice of Knots follows a sevenfold process that carries students from the familiar, individual, and concrete to the abstract, collective, and analytical. In this way, 126

participants learn that knowledge is gained in community. They also learn that their own problems are not peculiar to themselves, nor are they insurmountable. In the process, participants are asked to observe or listen to a Knot, and conversation is organized around six aspects that invite participants to 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7.

describe what they see or hear in the Knot; define the problems with what they see or hear; share with the group any similar experiences they may have had; question why there is a problem; pose ideas of what can be done to resolve the problem(s); define the benefits in the solutions offered; and describe how a new situation based on the benefits might look.

Each part of this cycle involves discussion and ongoing questioning of answers given. The Facilitator should encourage participants to question and even challenge each other in their input. In this process, the group will have experienced the process of intentionally looking at a problem as a community and together weaving a collectively decided-upon shared story and understanding of the world. They will have worked together to solve a familiar problem from their daily lived experience. They also will have empowered themselves to take responsibility in defining their own lives and to communicate their own perceptions of the world with others. Participants also find that they have moved together toward positive action for change. This process is referred to as problem posing rather than problem solving, because there is never only one solution to any Knot presented. This approach recognizes the need for ongoing action, investigation, and challenge in the lives of parent participants. The Facilitator is active throughout this process. She/he is not seen as an “objective” outside observer, but as an active critical participant who also is striving to find solutions in the process of Unknotting. The Facilitator is open, and if a question is raised that cannot be answered, ready to say simply, “I don’t know; I’ll have to investigate that.” The Facilitator is not seen as infallible here, but rather must be willing to share his/her knowledge as well as to hear and affirm the knowledge of the Circle participants. The Facilitator does not come in with a prepackage curriculum, assuming that every new group of parents only needs to learn proper discipline techniques or money management or child development. However she/he prepares to share this kind of information if in the preliminary investigation it was found that this is significant to the needs of this particular group of parents. This is consistent with Darder’s work in that “it is precisely in meeting the student’s need to participate in bicultural dialogue with others that the bicultural teacher can most provide assistance in facilitating the process across this terrain of the struggle, and thus cultivate through a critical process with students a spirit of possibility and empowerment” (p. 69).

Conclusion African American parents in crisis require educational approaches and intervention that can contend with the realities of their everyday lives. In concert with this notion, the Conscious Parenting Family Circles are grounded in the politics and principles of biculturalism discussed in this book. The first publication of Culture and Power in the Classroom, twenty years ago, provided me a powerful catalyst to begin exploring my own ideas about culture and parenting. Darder’s work provided useful language with which to explain what I was experiencing as a Black person, born and living in a marginalizing cultural and social context. Darder’s critical theory of bicultural development and bicultural pedagogy provided me and many others with the voice to create spaces of cultural democracy through our work and to support the development of the bicultural voice in those who might otherwise have sat in silence, powerlessness to affect their own lives. In turn, through the work of Conscious Parenting Family Circles, Black, parents in crisis find hope and strength to begin transforming their lives together anew.



European-American Teachers As Cultural Workers Reflections of a White Educator Tilman Smith, Early Childhood Educator and Administrator When faced with fear of any kind, one must first objectively ascertain whether there are real reasons for that fear. Second, if those reasons do exist, one must match them against the available possibilities for overcoming them successfully. Third, if an obstacle cannot be overcome right away, one must determine what steps to make toward becoming better capable of overcoming it tomorrow. Paulo Freire, Teachers as Cultural Workers; Letters to Those Who Dare Teach, 1998

I was born in the late 1950s in an all-white, sundown suburb of Washington, D.C. I was raised with the core understanding that I was special because of my blond hair and blue eyes, and thus was a worthy representative of my family who was white, wealthy, and influential. I was educated in independent schools, where my privilege inferred intelligence and entitlement, even when my grades did not. I was surrounded by a culture that valued the imperialistic notion that I was one of the smart, chosen ones. I ingested these notions dutifully and grew up believing that I was indeed successful in school, work, and life because I worked hard and was smart. As Darder explains (1991), the concept of meritocracy feeds the myth that people mostly from the dominant culture move ahead based on their talent and achievement, when, in reality, they are rewarded for mirroring dominant cultural values and behaviors (p. 11). But at the time, it did not occur to me that I was given preferential treatment in all of these areas because I was a member of the dominant culture and class. I was also the last of five children born into my family, and by the time I arrived my mother was not willing to be my primary caregiver. This task went to an African American woman who worked for and lived with my family. Ms. Shepherd, who became a mother figure to me in spite of the disrespectful and oppressive conditions under which she lived in our family, made a point of teaching me that I could think critically about the core values of my parents and community. She would integrate lessons into our daily routines by saying things like “you need to make your bed and take care of your things; your family doesn’t do this, but you are better than that, so you will”; and “your family doesn’t know how to treat me respectfully, but you are better than that, and will treat me well because you are a respectful and good person.” Although Ms. Shepherd had a sixthgrade education, she was my first teacher and allowed me to develop critical lessons that were not encouraged in my formal education or community. Ms. Shepherd lived with us until I was thirteen years old, and she would return each summer to ensure that I continued to grow up to be a kind and respectful person. We remained close until her death many years later. I have spent my life trying to critically understand her influence on my life as a woman and an educator. I have been tempted and encouraged to romanticize this relationship, but it has also been important for me to understand that asymmetrical power dynamics were always present in our relationship. There is no doubt that Ms. Shepherd taught me how to be more humane and empathetic; she gave me a level of humanness that I would not have ever received if she had not been in my life, and I believe I am a better person and teacher because of it. Although she will always have my deepest respect and love, it is also important for me not to retain fanciful notions about her place in my life. Ms. Shepherd and her family had a difficult life and, in truth, I benefited by her impoverished conditions, as I did by the privilege my family could exercise.

Classroom Teaching For ten years, I worked as a pre-kindergarten teacher and administrator in a small, independent school in Seattle. I saw myself as a hardworking, compassionate, smart, and creative teacher and was known for working well with “all” children, meaning mostly children of color. After teaching for a couple years, I had an African American student in my class (whom I will call Joyce) who was particularly challenging. I made many assumptions about Joyce and her single mother, and wasn’t reflective about how my own cultural values and misguided perceptions were disabling the child’s classroom experience. 129

During a conversation with Joyce’s mother, she explained to me that, although I was a good and conscientious teacher, I was not a good teacher for her African American daughter. She proceeded to point out how my classroom management strategies supported the while male students while penalizing most of the children of color. She also pointed out that I regularly put the children of color in time-out while praising the white students for similar behaviors. At first, I was defensive and angry. It took me a while to consider the implications of her words. Freire (1998) wrote, “Children are extremely sensitive to teachers who do exactly the opposite of what they say” (p. 56), and I came to realize that mothers are as well. Joyce’s mother had gone out of her way to entrust me with the truth of her child’s experience, irrespective of my best intentions. It was now up to me to learn what it truly meant to respect her, her daughter, and all of my students and families, by contending with my power, privilege, and well-meaning ethnocentric practices in the classroom. I must confess that this was difficult for me, given that it contradicted and challenged my long-held notions that I was inherently a “perfect” teacher who could work with all children. And if I accepted the critique, it meant that I would need to enter into new experiences, learn new information, and contend with other forms of knowledge, all of which might make me feel uncomfortable, inadequate, insecure, and doubtful about the success of my approach. Despite all this, I made the choice to move forward, albeit cautiously, but with resolve.

Beginning My Education Anew Coincidentally, it was about this same time that I attended a weekend course titled Seminars in Bicultural Development: Freire’s Pedagogic Model and its Implications for Bicultural Education, sponsored through Pacific oaks College and taught by Antonia Darder. Immediately, Darder created a space where the white students were not held at the center of the discourse. Although I understood her intent intellectually, I could only pretend to feel comfortable. I say this because I actually spent much of the time struggling to recenter myself in the discourse. I did this by sitting near people of color, soliciting their attention, and looking for validation from them. At one point, Darder specifically and passionately challenged the white women in the class to consider what made us think that we had to be so perfect all the time. This question/statement stopped me cold, and I simultaneously tried to distance myself from the woman who “caused” this direct feedback while realizing that she was talking as much to me as she was to the woman who sparked her attention. In an odd sense of juxtaposition, I knew that this moment coincided with the feedback that my student’s mother had recently given me, but my unconscious protection of my internalized white privilege prevented me from more fully understanding what my next steps were.

The Work of European-Americans as Cultural Workers In the early 1990s, I had the good fortune to attend a training with the People’s Institute of Survival and Beyond. In this training, an important piece of the puzzle was revealed to me. There was a part of the training where each participant was asked to share a part of her or his culture with the group. Although the guidelines were explained and the meaning of culture was grasped, I had no idea who I was as a cultural being. I was raised to be white—not ethnic, not cultural—just homogenized white. This assignment panicked me, in that it highlighted for me that I was unprepared to fight for cultural democracy or multiculturalism. I really had no lived sense of what culture meant for me personally. This reality propelled me, along with two other white women, Fran Davidson and Denise Michaels, to start a group that ultimately became known as White Women Organizing Against Racism (WWOAR). For ten years, WWOAR created a forum for white women to work on three important goals together: (1) understand who we were as ethnic and cultural beings; (2) understand how our cultural values informed how we lived and worked; and (3) understand how institutional privilege and oppression positioned us to have our cultural values privileged at the expense of people of color. we read books, explored our ethnic and cultural histories, and practiced supporting one another in our struggles against racism by critically engaging our experiences as case studies. WWOAR remained a viable group for ten years, when the organizers realized that we had moved our focus too far away from education and praxis. In response, we created a new organization, determined to bring our theory and practice together as educators. 130

In 2004, The work of European-Americans as Cultural Teachers (WE-ACT) was created by a group of seven white women. Vivian Biesiendinski, Mallory Clark, Fran Davidson, Jodi Golden-white, Ilsa Govan, Mary Grace Lentz, and I began this new work together. Most of us were graduates of Pacific oaks College Northwest, and all of us were working as educators in some capacity. As a group we planned for many months, drawing from Paulo Freire’s (1970b) Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Darder’s Culture and Power in the Classroom (1991), as well as works by Geneva Gay and others. The name of our group was informed by Freire’s Teachers as Cultural Workers; Letters to Those Who Dare Teach (1998), which to this day serves as a reminder of the work that we must integrate daily into our lives. The members of WE-ACT spent hours in dialogue about our mission and guiding principles, while also entering into dialogue with members from local and national groups of color to better understand our role as critical white educators committed to social justice. It was from the combination of all this that we created the founding mission and principles for our work.

The WE-ACT Mission and Principles Our Mission To become culturally relevant and effective cross-cultural teachers for all students, which represents our lifelong commitment, stems directly from Darder’s (1991) framing of the biculturation process, where we, as white teachers, need to understand and confront the power relations that shape how bicultural students of color are pressured to assimilate to traditional dominant values within American schools. By understanding this hegemonic process that bicultural students can experience in the classroom, we better equip ourselves to teach students of color in ways that assist them to critically examine the impact of cultural domination on their lives (p. 54).

Our Six Guiding Principles We created the following six guiding principles to hold us accountable to the practices that can support us to move toward promoting cultural democracy in our work. As students of color negotiate their responses to institutional racism and oppression (Darder, 1991), we see it is as part of our work to be prepared with a critical understanding of their potential response patterns, without judging or assuming we know better what they need or what they are experiencing. Guiding Principle #1: We are all cultural beings and need to understand how our beliefs and values inform our social and political position and therefore how we teach and impact our students. It is here that we must understand and remember what Darder (2002) asserts in Reinventing Paulo Freire: A Pedagogy of Love: Freire (1998) often spoke of teachers as cultural workers, for in every way that teachers engage or do not engage students, we are teaching values— values about what it means to live in this world and what it means to relate to other human beings. All teachers bring their beliefs and values in the classroom and these are transmitted in how we teach and what we teach, as well as the relationships we establish (or fail to establish) with our students and their parents. Hence, teachers must consistently reflect on their practice, so they can become more socially conscious about what they believe.... Such reflection entails posing critical questions (and) beyond asking critical questions, teachers must be critically vigilant about what they actually do, so they might discover where their utterances and their actions lose coherence. (p. 120)

This is particularly challenging for many white teachers to remember consistently, because we are products of an educational system that was created to reflect our lives and values. As white educators, it is often difficult to see when we are perpetuating our own cultural values at the expense of students of color. And even when we do see, our internalized white privilege can move us quickly to rationalize our harmful behavior and create excuses instead of engaging openly in critical dialogue and reflection. Guiding Principle #2: Although we understand that other forms of oppression create inequality in education, this organization focuses on racism. This guiding principle generated much dialogue among the organizers because we understood that 131

oppressions constantly interconnect with one another. However, educational statistics clearly indicated that race and racism are key factors associated with the achievement gap. We also understood that we, as white educators, needed to keep our focus on racism and internalized white privilege in order to not lapse into business as usual. Guiding Principle #3: We refuse to give up the idea that through our commitment and passion we can make a difference. Struggle will be present and welcome, which means staying in for the long haul and reflecting on our practice in order to make significant change. This principle was created to remind us that dedicating ourselves to practices that could lead to cultural democracy must be understood as a lifelong journey. our experiences with organizing WWOAR reminded us that white people can use privilege to enter in and out of this effort, as they wish. We were aware that we were regularly tempted to give up ourselves, especially when things were difficult or something caused us to become defensive. As Smith (2008) notes in Soy Bilingüe Adult Dual Language Model, developing antiracist, crosscultural competency is a long process, fraught with disagreements and discomfort. We can’t allow ourselves to be co-opted by the need to feel comfortable (p. 171). Guiding Principle #4: We use scholarship (study and reflection) in our meetings to deepen our collective knowledge and education practice. On our flyer, we include the following statement to capture what scholarship means to us: Often ideas of scholarship and all its trappings have been used to exclude people without traditional credentials and academic backgrounds from discussions and knowledge building. We use the word to mean conscientious study and reflection tied to improving practice. We want people to know that regardless of your relationship to reading, writing, or study, WE-ACT is a welcoming place to explore ideas for your classroom practice. our intention is to capture scholarship for use in the service of our mission: To become culturally relevant and effective cross-cultural teachers for all students.

As a group of white educators, we understood that we needed to participate in study, if for no other reason than to resist the temptation to revert to Eurocentric approaches of teaching and being. We also understood the pull to be paternalistic in our approach to educating students. Just as Macedo and Araújo Freire explain in the introduction to Teachers as Cultural Workers (Freire, 1998), the idea that we need to “empower students,” in fact, often results in strengthening our own privileged positions (p. xv). We must own that we have a tendency to do this, especially when we’re experiencing discomfort or challenges. Each summer, the organizing group of WE-ACT comes together to reflect on the year’s experiences and to engage in critical dialogue about what worked and what did not. We also create a new study list for the following year that includes books, articles, videos, art exhibits, and local lectures. We’ve recently been inviting more WE-ACT participants to contribute to this discussion, in the hope of broadening our selections and building larger capacity for the group. Guiding Principle #5: We are connecting this work to the larger effort of building a genuine and just democracy. As a group, we realize that it would be dangerous for us to work in isolation from a larger movement, and we therefore follow the guidance of Manuel Ramirez and Alfredo Castañeda (1974), who understood that all teachers must recognize all students’ right to be bicultural, to bring their family cultures, languages, values, and ways of reading the world in classrooms and be honored for who they are (p. 23). This means that we must understand, similar to Darder’s (1991) Dialectical Continuum, our place in a continuum between dominant culture ways of approaching teaching and a culturally democratic approach, and how often we make genuine efforts toward supporting students in their biculturation process (p.55). Needless to say, this has been a challenging process for us at times, because it means that we have to hold ourselves and each other accountable for our behavior, without beating one another up through competition and judgment and while also trying to ensure that we don’t rush back to practices that help us recover a sense of comfort and dominance. To genuinely work toward relationships and organizations that are informed by cultural democracy means that we must be willing to feel discomfort and doubt, especially when involved in critical dialogues and practices with bicultural students and their communities. Guiding Principle #6: We meet once a month, no matter what. WE-ACT meets once a month, on the second Tuesday of each month from 6:15 to 9:00 p.m., no matter what. We always meet in the same place and give plenty of notice if the location needs to change for any reason. We 132

have found that this consistency is critical for teachers whose schedules are usually full and for white educators who can struggle with internalized white privilege and therefore “forget” when the meetings occur. Each WE-ACT meeting follows a similar schedule. We do this in order to ensure that we don’t avoid uncomfortable topics, difficult readings, or retreat to more informal discussions that can lead away from critical dialogue. Our goal isn’t to tear educators down, but to remind us of what Freire (1998) calls “armed love,” the fighting love that can help progressive educators survive the negativities of our trade (pp. 40–41). Developing this kind of revolutionary love takes discipline and practice, and given that we only come together for three hours once a month, we are dedicated to staying focused on our mission.

The Process of WE-ACT Meetings We begin each meeting with introductions, check-ins, and announcements. The introductions are important because new people attend almost every session. We have deliberately not set any rules about attendance because it has been our experience that white teachers and educators will not usually commit to an antiracism group like this. Instead, we ask participants to come ready to participate fully when they are present. We would prefer that a teacher receive support and feedback whenever possible, and we try to offer this with love and gratitude for their participation. We then move to the Study Circle, where we discuss texts, videos, art exhibits, and other forms of information focused on becoming effective antiracist, cross-cultural educators. We use a study circle format very consciously in order to encourage multiple perspectives in lieu of authoritative conclusions. A facilitator is prepared to ask guiding questions to keep the dialogue focused on our mission. Opposing ideas are encouraged and add to the health of our collective knowledge. Those who didn’t have a chance to prepare for the discussion are asked to participate by listening for the first twenty minutes. Educators who come to WE-ACT work at every level, from infant care to higher education; so we have a period of time in which we break up into caucuses, based on the age group with whom participants work. This allows for more relevant and practical discussion of the Study Circle topic for each group. The final part of each meeting is focused on a case study that a participant brings to the group. The point of the case study is in engaging theory and practice (praxis), when faced with real-life situations in classrooms. It also gives us a chance to deepen our understanding of how to support one another as white educators instead of criticizing or competing with one another (“Who is the very best antiracist, cross-cultural educator?”). Toward this end, we began our work with a “Critical Friends” model1 to guide our case studies and found that although it encouraged supportive feedback, we often were defaulting to subtle status behaviors that gave credence to those educators with more education and experience, as well as to those who worked with older students. We were fortunate enough to be able to consult with Peggy McIntosh, co-founder of the SEED project at the University of Wellesley, to ask her how she would handle this phenomenon. She introduced us to a model similar to Critical Friends called Serial Testimony,2 where the structure supports more focus on the content of the case study and dissuades behaviors such as active head nodding to indicate approval, building on others’ statements, and untimed responses to the presenter’s core question. In the end, the person presenting leaves with direct feedback on her/his dilemma and with written notes, and the group leaves having had the experience of listening to diverse ideas that were offered from each person’s best thinking on the topic.

Conclusion Our work is fundamentally based on understanding Darder’s (1991) Sphere of Biculturalism (response patterns) not to “correct” or “teach” students which response is best, but to have some ability to understand differences in student and family survival strategies in order to create relevant and respectful opportunities for all of us to engage in a culturally democratic practice. Listening to students of color—and believing what they tell us, without thinking we know better—is a huge leap for many white teachers. This requires for us, as white teachers, to be vigilant about understanding how culture and power both constantly inform our behavior toward and responses to students of color. Without this recognition, we are always in danger of perpetuating dominant “business as usual” attitudes and practices in our classrooms, where students of color are expected to 133

make all the adjustments while we make few or none.

Becoming Grounded in My Histories I began my teaching twenty-seven years ago, and through many transformative opportunities with others I came to better understand Darder’s emancipatory vision for the education of working-class students of color and the transformation of the larger society. There have been, of course, many moments when I have failed painfully; but I have also had wonderful moments, where I was able to be the person that Ms. Shepherd saw in me so long ago; where I opened doors for students and their families, rather than shut them; where I found the courage to lean into my fears, chisel away at the individualism of my power and privilege, and come to know the collective power of building educational possibilities across our differences. And most importantly, I’ve learned that our work as European-American critical educators does not reside outside the vision of Antonia Darder’s powerful treatise, but rather encourages us to be genuinely accountable—by doing the hard work, becoming fully grounded in our own histories, and embracing a critically conscious life as educators and activists in the world.


Stop Braiding My Hair Bicultural Identity and the Schooling of Northern New Mexico Hispano Students Dolores P. Ortega, Social Worker and University Professor Whenever the greatest advance has been made in rural schools ... the question of the teacher is of the greatest importance.... A. C. Monahan, “The Status of Rural Education in the United States,” New York Times, 1913

For nearly a century, issues of rural schooling have been debated, yet little seems to have proportionately changed since A. C. Monahan wrote his government report on the status of rural education. The significance of the teacher remains central to the effective education of rural students. Nowhere is this more significant than in the education of bicultural children from Hispano communities in Northern New Mexico. Despite this longheld belief, many rural elementary school children continue to be educated by rural teachers trained only to deliver the dominant educational discourse. As a consequence, bicultural children in the region are robbed daily of their traditional knowledge, their language, and their culture. Ironically, many of these teachers, who may come from the same communities and often the same extended families, neglect their pedagogical responsibility of ensuring that students are socially and academically grounded in their cultural heritage. Too often, the assimilative practices of rural teachers, consciously or unconsciously, work to alter students’ cultural identities and ethnicities. This process can often begin with seemingly benign efforts to “pretty up” poverty. The student receives a first gift from the teacher—a barrette that barely holds the thick braided hair. Teachers then tell stories of pretty faces needing pretty braids. Braiding hair is not a common practice in rural Hispano communities; in fact, it is seen as a dominant culture practice. yet the teacher interrupts a student writing in her workbook—interrupting her academic momentum—so as to create an acceptable mainstream identity. This is one example of how a dominant identity is foisted onto the student very early in the schooling process. This superimposing of mainstream identity tosses the student into a bicultural crisis (Darder, 1991), in that he or she must try to decipher and balance two conflicting worldviews— rural (subordinate) culture and dominant or mainstream culture. More specifically, as Antonia Darder (1991) argues in this book, a bicultural crisis results when assimilative pressure is placed on bicultural students to adopt the culture, language, and cognitive practices of the dominant group. It is precisely at this juncture of crisis that the biculturation process begins, as students “attempt to reestablish the intrapsychic harmony of the primary culture that is threatened by the tensions arising as a result of pressure by the dominant culture to renounce [the] cultural values” of their own communities (pp. 53–54). However, teachers who understand the process of biculturalism and the manner in which Hispano and other bicultural students must be supported within the classroom hold the power to make a difference. A teacher who is critically conscious and aware of struggles that bicultural students face in a mainstream classroom environment is in an excellent position to mentor bicultural students so they can fully develop the affective and cognitive skills to navigate two worlds. Here I examine this issue within the context of rural New Mexico schooling.

Conditions of Rural Schooling According to Teachers and Teaching Conditions in Rural New Mexico, a publication of the Policy Program of the Rural School and Community Trust, “New Mexico is one of the poorest and most rural states in the country. over one-third of all schools in New Mexico are located in rural areas, and 58 percent of all students in New Mexico are eligible for free and reduced lunch. In rural areas, the percent of students in poverty is even higher (67%). New Mexico is tied with Arizona as having the greatest percentage of rural children living below poverty levels. In addition, New Mexico is an extremely diverse state. white students are a minority. Students of color comprise 66 percent of the total student population. Almost 52 percent of all New Mexican students are 135

[Hispanos] and over 11 percent are American Indians (Jimerson, 2004 p. 5). These statistics are well reflected in the condition of rural Northern New Mexico. Despite the romance of turquoise skies, most impoverished rural Hispano children of Northern New Mexico begin their day on desolate land. These students are less concerned with homework and more concerned about completing family chores that are meaningful contributions to their family’s survival. They stack firewood, fill water tanks, and feed livestock—all before daybreak. After their home responsibilities are met, they must walk up rutted dirt roads, sometimes through iced-over puddles to wait for the local school bus—only to ride for another half hour into the nearest town. By the time they arrive at school, they are already exhausted, and many have lost their appetite for “learning.” How do we, as educators, begin to read the cultural ways of these young students? First, as Darder repeatedly reminds us, we must acknowledge the social relationships and conditions these students face within their communities daily. Richard Nostrand (1993), in his article The New Mexico–Centered Hispano Homeland, states, “In their New Mexico–centered homeland, Hispanos adjusted to the natural environment, stamped it with their culture, and from both the natural environment and the cultural landscape created a sense of place or a homeland identity” (p. 47). This is evident in the manner in which bicultural Hispano students make sense of their world. For example, rural students must contend with distance and isolation, hence their immediate connection to familia also extends to nature. Many of these students enter the classroom already understanding well nature’s interconnectedness: The trees have a place, the river has a place, and the red earth has a place. As such, the bicultural student is initiated and oriented early on to a sense of power that is organic and nonoppressive—the living power of nature. The value of holding on to their relationship with this particular power is heavily enculturated in the minds of rural Hispano students by their small communities, their neighbors, and their elders. This value represents a significant point of convergence for the collective life of Northern New Mexican Hispano communities. However, just as all other values and beliefs that extend outside of the Anglocentric view, this fundamental value of Hispano life is so often questioned, dismissed, challenged, or delegitimized, as the teachers expose bicultural students to the mainstream academic worldview, based on a conflicting notion of power.

Spanglish as Deficit Some teachers who leave their rural communities for the illusion of a glossy urban America begin the process of subtle assimilation in both identity and language. In this instance, the rural Hispano identity that once defined these teachers has been challenged and eroded by the dominant pressure to assimilate. The authentic rural self, which can be defined with deep connections to one’s lived history and whereby a bicultural/bilingual consciousness is supported, becomes uprooted by the violence of the colonizing paradigm. As a consequence, traditional teachers, consciously or unconsciously, create relationships of cultural invasion, characterized by difference, division, and dominance. This process, as Darder explains, thwarts cultural democracy in the classroom and stifles the development of the bicultural voice of both bicultural/bilingual teachers and their students in New Mexico’s public schools. The dominant discourse of privilege, for example, displaces Hispano cultural schemas: wealth versus poverty; English versus Spanglish; and Anglo American culture versus Hispano. Rural bicultural/bilingual teachers, when communicating with the dominant culture and class about complex issues and struggles, are often viewed as linguistically deprived or deficient because of their rural Hispano accents. Despite the teacher’s ability to deliver a clear articulation in both English and Spanish, the bicultural teacher is often delegitimized by members of the dominant culture, who eagerly offer up rearticulations for these teachers’ perspectives in English, as if the bicultural/bilingual teacher’s articulation were substandard. Isis Artze (2001) challenges the assertion made by traditional educators who claim that “Spanglish, the composite language of Spanish and English that has crossed over to the street of Hispanic [media], ... poses a great danger to Hispanic culture and to the advancement of Hispanics in mainstream America” (p. 51). This assertion fuels damaging notions that deem rural Hispanos not only linguistically but also culturally deprived. yet, given Darder’s instructive thesis on biculturalism, Spanglish should be valued as part of a linguistic community that is anchored in both history and way of life. Rather than destructive, this manner of speaking 136

must also be understood as a creative cultural production that emerges from having to survive within two lived cultures, Hispano and Anglo. Artze also counters the classed notion “that Spanglish is primarily the language of poor Hispanics, many [of whom are] barely literate in either language” (p. 51). This view is troubling in that it equates rural poverty with illiteracy and feeds into the stereotypes of traditional teachers. Moreover, it fails to recognize that although some poor rural Hispanos may struggle with issues of formal literacy, they are quite able to read the land and their world, as Paulo Freire often reminds us. Moreover, the literacy of many rural bicultural communities is found in their rich literature of oral tradition and folklore. Darder’s work brings together a variety of dynamics associated with culture, language, and power, which helps us to better understand Spanglish as an important bicultural formation which allows two languages to coexist, even within the context of cultural and economic repression. As such, it is also imperative that Hispanos themselves challenge and dismantle the notion that Spanglish is our only language. In rural Hispano communities, most people speak Spanish fluently. It’s the dominant language of these communities, which is passed on to their children. Hence, in a culturally democratic schooling context, rural students have choices in how they communicate their histories, their mestizaje, their culture, their politics, and their spirituality— whether that is in English, Spanish, or Spanglish. More importantly, a culturally democratic understanding of schooling, as Darder suggests, critically engages with the reality that the survival responses of Hispanos are intricately tied to their status as colonized people. For Hispanos, using Spanglish is part of our lives and our very identity. This rural identity gives many Hispanos a permanent place within and outside of their rural communities. Moreover, Hispanos speaking Spanglish doesn’t necessarily mean that there is a resistance to learning standard Spanish or English. However, when due to hegemonic pressures of restrictive language policies, rural Hispano students and teachers are shamed for how they talk, the historical trauma associated with this phenomenon and its subsequent isolation and language loss can be relived and passed down generationally. Both Hispano rural teachers and their students can recognize this familiar zone of bicultural crisis. Yet, given the absence of culturally relevant strategies within schools, they are often left to struggle with their feelings of shame, confusion, and restlessness, without effective support nor pedagogical intervention to grapple with and reconcile the experience.

The Dominant Climate and Decentering of Self The dominant culture in public schools instills notions of homogenization and domination. Woodrum (2009) points to Anglo culture and economic hegemony as the educational culprit for the “suffering” experienced by many bicultural/ bilingual students and the manner in which they are “disembedded from their historical roots” so that the choice is either “cultural identity or economic survival” (p. 3). The rural bicultural teacher is often swayed by the economic benefit of assimilating to the dominant language, often denying their primary identity. As such, the dominance of the English language moves beyond the boundaries of the classroom and into rural adobe kitchens. The decision to indoctrinate familia to the new ideology is covertly served on wooden tables. It begins with some rural teacher’s silencing children’s use of the Hispano dialect. Teachers encourage both parents and their children to speak English at home in order to help the child’s academic development. In essence, the teacher’s authority pits the dominant language and culture against the Hispano language and culture. Their collision bruises bilingualism and biculturalism. Even rural Hispano teachers, although they may be conscious of the negative impact to their primary culture and language, let go of their cultural heritage in the hope that this will improve the opportunities for themselves and their children. However, leaving behind one’s language and culture is like leaving one’s homeland and walking into a multiplicity of ethnic conflicts, struggles, and clashes. Such disruption in the rural teachers’ sense of self is magnified as they return to rural classrooms, where Hispano children attend. Unlike the critical bicultural pedagogy that Darder explicates in this text, many teachers utilize protocols in which the explicit and implicit assumption is that the teacher controls all of the activity in the classroom and the students are to accept and be obedient to that authority. Student voice and participation is thwarted, as Darder argues, by the manner in which teachers use their unexamined authority to constrain the movement and participation of bicultural students in the classroom. The rural teacher’s adoption of traditional instrumental strategies retains his or her role in the control of 137

students’ use of their primary language and culture; hence the teacher negatively impacts students’ rural Hispano identities by undermining their ethnicity and by instilling in them an assimilative Americanized identity. For example, in some classrooms there is a daily classroom ritual of tightly pulling back and braiding of students’ long black hair. In many ways, this braiding of their loose hair becomes a symbolic instilling of a new identity, an attitude that remains at the forefront of the educational curriculum. Many rural students adapt to this type of learning, given they may feel powerless to contest the teacher’s authority and the distancing that is expected of them, in order that they may become educated. When rural teachers, who again are often like family members, create distance between themselves and their students, they are supporting the historical inequality of power that has existed in local schools for centuries. The sense of powerlessness and deficit can be alarming to rural Hispano students, given that in their families these students are looked upon as having abilities that contribute meaningfully to their familias and communities. They fix tractors, they rescue cattle, and they uphold the spiritual traditions in their casas. Yet because of the political mainstream ideology of some rural teachers who deny rural Hispano students a meaningful place within the classroom, the education of bicultural/ bilingual children is compromised. These conditions, unfortunately, can get worse for rural students as they move into secondary education, where conditions of assimilation can become even more intense.

Critical Bicultural Pedagogy in a Rural Hispano Context Many of the principles that Darder articulates in her notion of a critical bicultural pedagogy are consistent with the needs that are at work in transforming classroom life in a rural Hispano context. This is especially apparent in the manner in which she speaks to issues of resistance and voice, the need for curricular transformation, support for meaningful parent participation, the importance of affirming home identities, the integration of the students’ language in the classroom, and respect for students as whole human beings and members of their cultural communities.

Resistance and Awakening the Bicultural Voice The unexamined assault on rural Hispano identities generally continues well into the students’ adolescent years or until one day a student questions the impact of the dominant culture on their life, demanding that the teacher “Stop braiding my hair; I need to learn.” It is the capacity of critical bicultural teachers to understand this kind of resistance as meaningful and necessary for the empowerment of bicultural students that can help transform the education of rural Hispano students. This rural student is empowered by a sense of pride and worth of Hispano people. A student’s resistance to indoctrination, to having her rural identity altered, can surprise the unprepared teacher, presenting a serious dilemma. The student who feels violated has no interest in being obedient so as to be advanced in the mainstream hierarchies that dominant teachers maintain. Instead, the student discovers the collective power of the Hispoya (regional term I use to show solidarity) culture that is grounded in history. Thus, the student resists attempts to undermine his or her identity, using his or her social agency to reshape the dominant curricula. Such a student is drawn to those rural teachers who are determined not to be part of this politicizing, profiteering educational system, instead relying on wisdom and commitment to uphold a culturally democratic classroom environment. By engaging thoughtfully with student resistance, teachers utilizing a critical bicultural pedagogy create new curricula that, as Darder explains, support in awakening the bicultural voice. With this in mind, bicultural/bilingual curricula are developed and practiced in ways that promote cultural democracy within the school and the community. This means that new power relations are established to permit greater participation of bicultural and bilingual students, parents, and communities in the life of schools. As might be obvious, this shift in power relations by culturally conscious teachers is bound to be challenged by mainstream colleagues, administrators, and even parents. However, in such moments, the critical grito from bilingual, bicultural, and biracial communities to the dominant culture can work to awaken a new discourse of minority political power to help shape the new curricula. Rural Hispano people have 138

learned to adapt to and coexist with Native Americans, African Americans, and poor whites. This lived experience invites the mixing of people to create interracial, biracial, and multiracial groups. As Darder repeatedly asserts, this kind of critical diversity works to strengthen the academic opportunities of bicultural students and their communities.

Empowerment of Parents Darder suggests that strategies for innovative power sharing should be developed so that the environment of schools is inclusive. In the typical elementary school tour, parents of minority rural students are shown “the parent room” by the counselor’s office, which has a couch, a pile of outdated parent magazines, and a computer that has its power off. In contrast, a critical bicultural approach for engaging rural Hispano parents as part of the fabric of the school means that parents are seen as important contributors to the education of their children and thus are invited to be an active part of classroom life. To orient parents to their students’ school lives, some teachers create innovative workspaces composed of a desk with the students’ current books, worksheets, and school supplies. The parent desk, embedded in the classroom, is the site where the working relationship with the rural teacher and the rural bicultural parent is cemented. It gives rural bicultural parents opportunities to partake in the learning community and to understand the role that a culturally relevant education can play for their rural Hispano sons and daughters lives.

Restoring Home Identity and Language Another way to foster cultural democracy is by having dialogues with rural parents about what they would like to see schools address in terms of the cultural values of rural Hispanos. One answer may be that schools initiate informal rural parent mentorship projects. For example, rural parents who are seen as legitimate members of the school community could meet with teachers informally and reground them in the “home language” and “home identity” that teachers may have lost in the assimilative process of their higher education. The rural school environment lends itself to this type of parent–teacher relationship because there is less disruption in the school setting. Most rural schools have fewer teachers on site and smaller numbers of students. The ideal opportunity exists for teachers to be grounded and regain an in-depth understanding of how the native Hispano language is used outside of the academic classroom. This “home language” is crucial in breaking the nonparticipatory structures that often define students. Not only will these rural teachers be reimmersed in their students’ primary language and culture, but they will also be privy to the emotional, behavioral, and cultural connections associated with their rural language. Another strategy tied to fostering cultural democracy is to dedicate time in the school day for free-form language play: Spanish, English, or Spanglish. This play gives rural teachers a new comprehensive look into the dialectic realities of how students use their two languages. In this way, rural teachers can support rural parents to instill in their children the value of their cultural identity through making visible the primary language. This integrity makes the students resilient and able to withstand the dominant discourse, and later to pursue higher learning, with their bicultural identity intact. In addition, a critical bicultural pedagogy creates a place for bicultural students to learn to trust the compassion of their teachers, who can act as a linguistic bridge between Standard English instruction and the home language. Undoubtedly, Darder’s notion of a critical bicultural pedagogy supports both the primary culture and language while students also learn the official language of the society. Such an environment increases the comfort level for learning and teaching, without students having to sit at their desks feeling panic that they will not understand the lesson and will feel dumb. Making time for freedom in linguistic expression may seem small, but it constitutes a significant change to the rural curriculum, reducing the constraints of an English-only approach.

A Bicultural Pedagogy for Wholeness


Lastly, a critical bicultural pedagogy, as conceptualized by Darder’s work, is about engaging bicultural/bilingual students in ways that respect their minds, bodies, hearts, and spirits. In keeping with this philosophy is honoring the rites of passage that are associated with students’ communities. For example, in one fifth-grade public rural classroom, each time one of the students receives la primera communion, the child’s classroom celebrates. Among their textbooks in their wooden desks, novena cards can be found, so typical of New Mexican rural life. These students also create an altar in the classroom that reflects their guiding spiritual nature and a familiar aspect of their own homes. On their altar, they place a Virgen Maria y La Sagrada Familia. Their altar represents their cultural identity and their families’ spiritual formation. Culturally conscious teachers make it possible for bicultural children to bring important parts of their being into the classroom. Moreover, because rural Hispano students must travel so far to the rural classroom, schooling practices tied to familiar cultural activities make the classroom environment feel more like home. In considering the dynamics of bicultural development and the awakening of the bicultural voice, the journey toward (re)discovery of one’s rural Hispano identity can be a very complex, yet revitalizing process. The deep connection to one’s lived experience awakens inner and collective power. Rural bicultural teachers who discover and bring the strength and wisdom of their culture and language to their classrooms can provide rural Hispano children with affirmation and the pedagogical support to reclaim their wholeness as bicultural human beings.


Transforming Practice Critical Bicultural Pedagogy and Teacher Education Eduardo Lopez, Public University Teacher Educator “you will never amount to anything!” Frustrated by my acts of defiance and classroom disruptions, my white high school English teacher yelled at me again, “you are a failure now and you will always be a failure!” I can’t exactly remember what I was doing at the moment; most likely, I was either throwing a piece of paper across the room or reading a comic book instead of my English textbook. I hated my tenth-grade English teacher; and everyday I walked into her classroom, I was determined to disrupt her lessons. Despite my actions, I didn’t hate English. I was an avid reader and I devoured sci-fi, adventure, and suspense novels on a regular basis. I spent most of my time in the local East Los Angeles library because my parents didn’t allow their five children to watch much television or play in the streets. Until my first year in high school, I considered school fun. Teachers thought of me as a bright student and I excelled. Based on my academic record, my eighth-grade teacher encouraged my parents to have me take the entrance exam for Don Bosco Technical High School. Considered one of the more academically prestigious all boys’ Catholic schools in the area, my family thought it was a great privilege when I was admitted. I felt a great sense of responsibility and pressure from my family to do well at the school. Every day I woke up at 5:00 a.m., waited for the bus at 6:00 a.m., and arrived at school by 8:00 a.m. At the end of the school day, I made the same two-hour bus ride back home. Despite my grueling travel schedule, I initially approached school with the same enthusiasm I had shown in my previous years of schooling. However, as I spent more time interacting with teachers and classmates, I found myself thinking I was not “fitting in.” At the time, the school was predominately white and middle class and it was the first time I was consciously dealing with classism and racism. As classmates proudly talked about their fathers’ professions as doctors, lawyers, and small business owners, I secretly hid the fact that my father worked for the post office. When my dad picked me up in his used station wagon, I hung my head in shame as other parents picked up classmates in luxury automobiles. One of the most haunting and dehumanizing experiences I carry with me from this period of my life was from a physical education (P.E.) class. There is a large grassy area in the middle of the school, and students were never allowed to walk on the grass. The only time we were given permission to be on the grass mall was during P.E. classes, when we were organized into squads around the grass mall, where exercises had to be conducted in unison. In my class, I had six classmates who were also of working-class Mexican descent. Often during P.E., we joked that our parents had signed us up for military school. One day we decided not to follow the group. When the rest of the group was doing jumping jacks and had their hands up in the air, we had ours at the bottom. Throughout the class, we continued to mess up the flow for each exercise, each time infuriating more and more our white P.E. coach, who shouted instructions on a blow horn. When class ended, the P.E. coach dismissed everyone except my small group of friends. He proceeded to yell at us for not following instructions and told us to line up on the side of the grass mall and crawl on our stomachs to the other side and back. We quickly protested that we weren’t going to do it because it had rained the night before and mud had accumulated in the middle. When he threatened to suspend us, we proceeded to crawl through the mud. Once it was over, we were not allowed to use the showers because the P.E. instructor informed us they were only reserved for athletes.

Reclaiming My Biculturalism Lacking the language to identify my schooling experiences as racist and classist, I came to the conclusion that the only way I would be able to deal with the humiliations at school was by resisting. I stopped doing 141

homework, cheated on tests, and made every effort to disrupt teachers’ lessons. When I graduated from high school, I was unsure of what I wanted do with my life, and so I enrolled at East Los Angeles Community College. I saw community college as a way to postpone entering the “real world” of jobs and responsibilities. After three years of floating through community college, I met a friend who started talking to me about the seminary, and I became attracted to the romanticized figure of the Jesuit scholar locked away in a library study. I eventually enrolled at the University of San Francisco (USF) as a psychology/theology major. My plan was to become a priest, come back to East Los Angeles, and offer counseling services. At the end of my first year at USF, I enrolled in a program called the Phelan Multicultural Community. Each year, a group of twenty-four students were selected to spend a year living together in a dorm suite while exploring topics such as bicultural identity, multiculturalism, intercultural communication, and social inequality. As part of the curriculum, we read Pedagogy of the Oppressed. Although Paulo Freire was writing about his work with Brazilian peasants, I saw my own schooling experiences reflected in these pages. With each page I turned, I felt like I was pulling back a veil that finally allowed me to clearly see what schooling had done to me. Freire’s discussion of banking education gave me the language to understand the impact of my high school English teacher yelling at me and proclaiming that I would never amount to anything in life. I was deeply attracted by Freire’s discussion of the oppressed becoming subjects in the world and his argument that education could become a vehicle for social transformation. I struggled to understand what he meant by problem-posing education, praxis, dialogue, and critical consciousness. If this is what humanizing education felt like, I wanted more! As a participant in the program, we were also required to attend weekly discussion sessions. At one of these sessions, Antonia Darder came to speak to the college campus. In preparation for her talk, we read “Chapter 3: A Critical Theory of Cultural Democracy” from her first edition of Culture and Power in the Classroom (1991). As I read about the four major response patterns that she associated with biculturalism, I realized I had predominantly adopted the cultural alienation response pattern. My previous schooling experiences had made me feel ashamed of my cultural and class background, and I tried very hard to adopt an assimilated “American” identity. In college, I joined a predominately white fraternity; identified myself as Ed, instead of Eduardo; and looked down on my Mexican heritage. Darder is correct in identifying that by adopting a cultural alienation process, I attempted to “negate, eliminate, or move away from the tension, conflict and contradictions that result from cultural differences.” Realizing the frustration, anger, and shame the cultural alienation process had caused me, I was fascinated by the bicultural affirmation response pattern. I was curious how I could not only integrate and mediate my primary cultural identity and reclaim my biculturalism but also work toward social transformation. At the campus talk, Darder spoke about the lack of educational opportunities in Latino working-class communities and about the manner in which educational institutions, wittingly or unwittingly, functioned to reproduce the economic interests of the dominant culture and class, and she illustrated historical examples of Latino communities fighting to attain educational equity. After the presentation, I felt I had learned more in those two hours than I had learned in most of my previous schooling, and I made it my goal to learn more about my history and the larger socioeconomic conditions that negatively affected the schooling of bicultural students like me. This goal led me to enroll in the doctoral program at the School of Educational Studies at Claremont Graduate University, where Darder taught at the time. Through her critical bicultural praxis in the classroom, I came to struggle with the rigor of critical theory, critical pedagogy, culture studies, and the political economy of schooling. In the process, I began to develop an educational vision of schooling that was linked to social and economic justice, human rights, and the exercise of radical love. Through experiencing firsthand the force and effectiveness of such an approach as a student, I made a commitment to integrate a critical bicultural theory of education in my work as an educator. Over the years, I have taught at an all boys’ Catholic high school and in after-school programs, college outreach programs, community college, adult education, and university courses. Currently, I coordinate and teach in the Teacher Education Program (TEP) at UCLA.

Building a Master's in Urban Teaching Program 142

I came to work for TEP in 2005 because of the program’s espoused commitment to social justice. A primary stated goal of TEP is to prepare urban public school teachers who will promote social justice, caring, and antiracism in their classrooms. My initial role in TEP consisted of supervising secondary social studies teachers in East Los Angeles. In a community where most students face low expectations and resist schooling, I worked with teachers to develop classroom communities by cultivating authentically caring relationships with their students and integrating bicultural students’ lived experiences into the curriculum. I encouraged and supported teachers in becoming social justice educators by helping them reflect on the moral, ethical, and political dimensions of teaching. In fall 2008, the faculty of TEP began a series of conversations about broadening our work beyond preservice credential programs. Although we were proud of our capacity to produce high-quality teachers who were motivated to work in urban school settings, we were concerned about losing teachers after their fifth year of teaching. For example, after five years of teaching, 70 percent of TEP graduates continue to work in the classroom compared to 61 percent nationally (Quartz & TEP Research Group, 2003). However from the fifth to sixth year, TEP graduates were four times more likely to change careers than similarly prepared teachers (Lyons, 2007). Although many of them continued to work in related educational fields within urban communities, these experienced teachers, so important to the success of bicultural students, were leaving the classroom. More specifically, research shows that a lack of experienced teachers in urban schools contributes to the achievement gap between white and bicultural students (Orfield, Losen, & Swanson, 2004). Hence, as a result of our conversations, a proposal for a Masters in Urban Teaching was submitted to the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies and was approved for the following winter quarter. Recruitment for potential candidates began in Spring 2010, and I was named coordinator/faculty for the program. The purpose of the Masters in Urban Teaching Program is to sustain and support the growth of experienced (two or more years of teaching experience) urban public school teachers. Designed as a rigorous four-quarter program (summer, fall, winter, and spring), the program prepares K–12 teachers to develop critical perspectives on teaching, curriculum, instruction, and the social, political, and cultural issues facing their schools and neighborhoods. Opposing the view of teachers as technicians who simply implement scripted curricula and prefabricated strategies, the program seeks to create the conditions to empower teachers in creating culturally democratic classrooms, where the lived experiences of bicultural students are not only validated but also utilized to foster critical consciousness and social transformation. True to Darder’s critical bicultural principles, the program contends that if teachers are to radically alter existing systems of inequality in urban public schools, they must (1) challenge internalized biases and develop an awareness of how their unexamined values impact their practice; (2) carefully listen to the voices of bicultural students and their families; (3) understand the dual nature of schooling as a site of reproducing inequality and liberation; and (4) work to link practice with theory. Guided by theoretical frameworks that support bicultural development and cultural democracy, such as care theory, critical bicultural pedagogy, critical race theory, and teachers as researchers, the program works to cultivate in teachers a sense of hope and a sense of possibility—the possibility that conditions in urban schools may not only be challenged but also transformed.

Implementing a Critical Bicultural Pedagogy The program’s first cohort consisted of twenty-one teachers (three elementary, six middle, and twelve high school). Once a week, from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m., we came together to reflect, support, and learn from one another. Facing furloughs and exhausted from all their teaching responsibilities, they came to class looking for a space where they could critically think about their students and pedagogy, by participating teacher research inquiry projects that were meaningful to their daily practice. Throughout the year, teachers conducted a systematic and intentional study about their own teaching experiences in the classroom. This process involved an interactive and cyclical process of observing, reflecting, evaluating, planning and action (Cochran-Smith & Lytle, 1993). Teaching this first cohort was a new experience for me. In the past five years, I had primarily supported secondary social studies teachers; I now suddenly found myself working with elementary, math, science, and English teachers. I worried about providing adequate content and grade level support, fearing I would lose my 143

authority in the classroom if I were not able to answer all questions posed related to specific content strategies and methods. I became obsessed with becoming the “expert” in all the subjects my teachers taught. One exhausted and weary night, after reading several articles on math education, I realized I had created an impossible task, one that was in direct contradiction with my own critical intellectual formation. There was no way I was going to learn everything about algebra instruction in one weekend. It was then that I realized how narrow my teaching approach and my thinking had become, given all the stress I was experiencing from trying to contend with the many issues teachers were facing in urban classrooms. Suddenly, I realized that I was only thinking about strategies and methods, without guiding teachers to develop a critical understanding of their own purpose as educators. Darder (1991) speaks to this very point when she writes: Teacher education programs are notorious for reducing the role of teachers to that of technicians. Instead of empowering teachers by assisting them to develop a critical understanding of their purpose as educators, most programs foster a dependency on predefined curriculum, outdated classroom strategies and techniques, and traditionally rigid classroom environments that position not only students but teachers as well into physically and intellectually oppressive situations. This occurs to such a degree that few public school teachers are able to envision their practice outside the scope of barren classroom settings, lifeless instructional packages bland textbooks, standardized tests, and the use of meritocratic systems for student performance. (pp. 50–56)

As a result, I restructured the course so that teachers would have a place to explore and challenge their internalized biases by examining the role that ideology plays in shaping commonsense notions of classroom practice. Teachers were asked to reflect, dialogue, and name how positionality (race, class, gender, sexual orientation, language, geography, etc.) shaped their schooling experiences and desire to become a teacher in an urban school district, as well as the manner in which it influenced their classroom practice with working-class children of color. After exploring teachers’ backgrounds and schooling experiences, courses were organized around weekly questions. These questions were designed to assist teachers to critically explore conditions in urban classrooms and create classroom communities that were based on the lived experiences of bicultural students. Some examples of weekly questions that served as a basis for critical dialogues and journal reflections included: How can we make what we teach and how we teach it more relevant to our students? How do we listen to our students? What does it mean to love our students? How do we balance theory and practice? What sustains our work as social justice educators? How do we create communities of learning? What are the implications of not saying anything when we hear racist/sexist/ homophobic statements in our classrooms? What is the significance of the inquiry process on teachers’ growth and development as social justice educators? Organizing classes around critical questions renewed my commitment to using a critical bicultural pedagogy. It also significantly shifted how teachers thought about transforming conditions in their own classrooms. For example, a high school math teacher frustrated with traditional “drill and kill” strategies designed a social justice mathematics curriculum as a means to examine social issues. Using a unit on area, surface area, and volume, he explored with his students spatial issues in the classroom, compared oil consumption in the United States and abroad, and evaluated the accuracy of the Mercator and Peters Projection Maps. An elementary teacher used a pedagogy of love and care as a means to positively impact bicultural students’ self image, feelings of inclusion, and academic achievement. A high school English teacher redesigned an English curriculum to focus on issues of race, class, and gender, by using a theoretical framework of authentic care, problem-posing pedagogy, and a culturally responsive praxis.

Evaluating Students' Experiences Toward the end of the year, I administered a survey as way of understanding teachers’ overall impressions of the program. I was also interested in hearing what role theory had played in helping teachers understand their classroom context. The survey included two questions: (1) Do you think theory has helped you reflect on your 144

practice, students, and/or classroom context? Why or why not? and (2) What has been your overall impression of the program? These are some of the responses (unedited) that students in the program gave for these questions: 1. Do you think theory helped you reflect on your practice, students, and/or classrooms context? Why or Why not? Definitely. I didn’t read a lot of theory in my credential program and I am not sure I was ready for it.... now I find myself referring to it in my daily reflections, action/lesson plans, planning for professional development with my staff. Definitely. When I read certain theories they offer a clarification to certain conditions. I find it interesting that while I read some theories, they become alive, living and changing, dependant on the context and my mental framework. Some theories are outdated though, so critical thought definitely needs to be utilized when assessing what theories make use to gain reality. Yes, theory has helped me fill in missing pieces in the puzzle of what I have been observing in my class. It has helped me seek further. Yes! Theory has offered an opportunity to momentarily stand above/ beyond my class/context and evaluate my opinions about teaching. It has kept me thinking academically, stimulated my mind, and ultimately kept me motivated as an educator by offering academic outlets and a place/way to analyze my practice. Yes, but it can be very difficult and complex to comprehend at times. However, because of the complexity it requires a deeper reading, which in itself requires additional reflection. Yes, it has provided me with a language that allows me to describe the world. It helps me contextualize my experiences and understand their implications. 2. What has been your overall impression of the program? This program has helped me grow as a professional and as an individual. (An experience I have not had since Catholic school.) Thank you! The program has challenged me academically, while keeping in mind the intense demands of being a full-time teacher. over and over again I have praised it to my friends & colleagues as a truly worthwhile program that nurtures and expands my passion for social justice and education. Challenging, overwhelming, and rewarding. I feel like I have learned a lot more than other people who have done masters programs elsewhere. It keeps me sane. It brings sense to my weeks and experiences. I am truly wondering what I will do after this program ends. PhDs at my school are worthless and logistical. How can I continue to dialogue, reflect, challenge, grow, push myself outside this setting? I don’t want the stale complacency I see in other teachers [to] take hold of me. This program has been such an important catalyst for growth, reflection, and change in my teaching career. I consider it a milestone, and the nature of our interactions, dialogue, and connectedness has been deeply refreshing, encouraging, and [an] inspiring experience for me. This has been the critical circle of friends and colleagues that I wish I will always have. Influential and inspirational—Challenging and refreshing—Critically important to sustaining my development as a social justice educator helping me find my ability to experience praxis and focus in transformation in my classroom to achieve a higher level of education. Thank you for all you do to sustain and encourage us in this process.

Conclusion At the end of the academic year, UCLA’s Teacher Education Program hosts an annual teacher research conference. Attending the conference is one my favorite things I do all year. Classes have finished and teachers 145

are more relaxed and joyful because they have received approvals on their inquiry projects. Presenting at the conference is the last requirement of the program, before they graduate the following week. Making last minute preparations for the conference last year, I stopped by a room where a group of teachers from the cohort were presenting. As I watched them rehearse, memories of my high school experiences flooded back. I thought about how many years it had taken me to heal and understand the impact of hearing I would never amount to anything in life. I now understand that my schooling experiences were meant to crush my ability to see myself as an intellectual and internalize feelings of inferiority. Finding the work of Freire and Darder changed how my life unfolded. Together, their work gave me the language to name what had happened to me and others like me. Their words were healing and instilled a lifelong commitment to challenging oppressive conditions in urban schools, through a pedagogy that called me to love and respect myself as a historical and cultural being so that I might find the strength and fortitude to love and respect my students in ways that would allows us to grow together. Working with these twenty-one teachers in the Masters in Urban Teaching program at UCLA showed me the radically transformative potential of a critical bicultural theory of education. I knew in my heart that each of these teachers would create spaces where bicultural students and their families would be treated with dignity and respect. These teachers understood the challenges that working-class children and young people of color experience daily and would work actively to transform the unjust conditions in their classrooms by creating conditions that support nurturing, loving, and empowering alternatives.


Teaching Umoja A Bicultural Community Response Theressa Lenear, Parent Educator, Teacher, and Activist Our Future She is a sweet thing with eyes that twinkle when she looks And she is our future. He is a beautiful child with lips That glisten as he babbles and coos And he is our future. How will they grow and who will Teach them to look with their eyes to find the right direction? And how will they know what to say? Their ways are childlike now but soon He will enter manhood and she will become a woman. Then they will be expected to Speak about injustices they see and Praise the goodness they find. Mona Lake Jones, The Color of Culture, 1993

A Mother's Story As I read the poem above, a mother’s story takes shape and looms out from behind these words. Deanna James is a colleague of mine. We work together in a nonprofit organization that provides information and referral services to families seeking care for their children and training and technical assistance to early childhood educators in our county. Our goal is to increase the quality of care accessible to meet the diversity of family needs, especially related to language and culture. Deanna is an African American woman who affectionately calls me “mother,” as it speaks to the nurturing relationship that envelops us, our cultural blanket that brings comfort to our work together. She is a mother of a young African American boy attending a public school, which in the past had been a school environment that nurtured and supported him from kindergarten through first grade. Her son not only had a diverse group of children in his classroom but also teachers who looked like him to guide his learning. As in other parts of the country, several schools in our city serving predominantly children of color have been closed in spite of strong community outcries and organized demonstrations. The community’s messages to the school board and school district were in response to inequities fueled by racism throughout the school district. Bicultural children were being reassigned to different schools. For Deanna’s son, second grade looked culturally different from the previous two years, given that his new school was in a regentrified neighborhood. However, with our worksite in near proximity of her son’s school, Deanna was able to be actively involved, which made the difference. The teaching staff at the school emulated their belief in the values and strengths that children and their families brought into the classroom, and the physical school environment reflected this philosophy. Deanna’s son is now in third grade, surrounded by friends he has made over the last two years. He is blossoming into his full potential as a young African American male. Nevertheless, his continued success lies under a disturbing cloud of statistics. According to the Children’s Defense Funds’ Cradle to Prison Pipeline Campaign Report (Children’s Defense Fund, 2007), “A Black boy born in 2001 has a 1 in 3 chance of going to prison in his lifetime; a Black girl has a 1 in 17 chance. A Latino boy born in 2001 has a 1 in 6 chance of going to prison in his lifetime; a Latino girl as a 1 in 45 chance ... a white boy a 1 in 17 chance” (pp. 19, 37). The story of Teaching Umoja is anchored upon the question: What are the strategies that families, teachers, and bicultural communities use to protect their children, in the face of racial and class oppression? In response, mine is a story of our communities’ response through the use of a participatory action research process to engage in a collective reframing and libratory act of love. 147

Antonia Darder (1991) writes in Culture and Power in the Classroom about the importance of “resistance” and “counterhegemony” (p. 88) within bicultural communities. Through their critical responses to oppression, communities of color historically develop strategies (or life jackets) that buffer and protect us from succumbing to the imposition of norms or standards, whereby all are measured as if there were only one way of being human. To resist, bicultural communities must expend energy daily to swim against the currents of oppression, through the murky waters of falsehoods and seemingly plausible specious beliefs, where, as Darder correctly notes, the “values of the dominant [culture] appear so correct that to reject them would be unnatural, a violation of common sense” (p. 34). Resistance and counterhegemony are principles of what Freire (1970b) and other critical education theorists identified as a “critical pedagogy.” And thus, resistance and counterhegemony are also central to Darder’s critical bicultural pedagogy, a place from which people of color can engage in deep awareness and understanding of the social issues and their social implications that plague our communities. It is here where we can engage in thoughtful and purposeful action for creating positive social change. It is here that, through a critical bicultural process, our individual and collective power strengthens, our voices are awakened, and our humanity affirmed.

My Cultural Response Patterns Although I was born in Bremerton, Washington, I grew up in Fairbanks, Alaska, from the time that I was two years of age. My parents migrated to Alaska for work opportunities and a new beginning—a new life. It appears that I was a novelty, as an article in the Daily News Minor, a local newspaper, identified me as the first colored child in Fairbanks. This seemingly honest accolade bestowed upon me came with a price—an unclear sense of my identity. Over the years, a critical mass of people and families who looked like me moved to and flourished in a land that was known as the last frontier, the land of the midnight sun. Whereas most of my friends went to the local public schools, I attended a private school; my parents wanted me to receive a good Catholic education. of the whole student population, I could count on one hand the number of students of color of African descent. The content of our educational studies clearly uplifted and held in high esteem the great many contributions bestowed upon the Europeans and their descendents as the result of their colonizing efforts on those peoples deemed less cultured and less worthy. Both my ancestral lines, African and Indigenous, have been shaped by this history of oppression. The remnants of this colonizing ideology were very much present throughout the twentieth century, and clearly evident in the treatment of various Alaskan native communities and other people of color living in the region where I grew up. Racism stood front and center, presenting itself in various ways that were confusing to me as a bicultural child; I did not know what questions to ask of my parents in order to understand what I was being taught in school or the racial discrimination that I saw and experienced on a regular basis as a child. My parents did not reveal much of their past or their life experiences. Both parents came from large families; my dad was born to sharecroppers in Louisiana, and mother was born on an Indian reservation in Idaho. Mom and dad in their own right were revolutionary, as they organized others in addressing the discriminatory actions of the local businesses, organizations, housing authorities, and city policies. My parents started an NAACP [National Association for the Advancement of Colored People] chapter in Fairbanks. How I loved looking at the photos of my parents at work, engaged in organizing activities in our community. Mom was quick to confront any adult who dared to bestow racial epitaphs upon my sister and me, no matter what the gender or size of the perpetrators. She was also quick with written words, as she wrote numerous articles or commentaries on the social ills of discrimination plaguing our town. As a child, I watched in awe as my parents engaged with other adults in social action. As discussed in this book, my parents demonstrated affirmative bicultural response patterns that supported their efforts to resist the structural design of racial segregation that burdened their little patch of the world. They were clear about how to take action against racism. However, they were not aware of the importance of armoring us girls with a strong connection to our cultural roots—in this arena, they inadvertently supported the assimilative expectations of the larger society. As a child growing up, there were no discussions about our cultural history and ancestral legacies from which we could establish and build a clear sense of identity as bicultural beings. Such an enculturation would have allowed us to know who we were, as both African 148

American and Native American, and also to negotiate the tensions of racism and other inequalities we faced. Instead, the resistance strategies imparted by my mother were a cross between what Darder describes as assimilation, or Cultural Alienation, and walking between two worlds of Cultural Dualism. Hence, the movement for me toward becoming bicultural and engaging more fully in response to Bicultural Negotiation came much later in life. As a young woman in high school, I had dreams of working in Africa as a teacher, with visions of making a difference in the lives of children who looked like me but were deemed less fortunate. I see my childhood visions today as a child’s cry for a sense of cultural connection and the power to make a difference. Funny thing about dreams, they have a way of coming to fruition in their own time and in their own way. My journey in the field of early childhood education began as a homeless single mother of three young children. My firstborn child was enrolled in a full-day Head Start program. My experience as a Head Start parent and subsequently as a Head Start teacher framed my pedagogical stance on the importance of parent and family involvement in their children’s learning. I found myself deeply entrenched in early childhood education and thoroughly enjoyed providing learning opportunities and learning environments for the young children placed in my care and their families. Perhaps because of the absence of culturally relevant experiences as a child, intuitively I seemed to know what a learning environment should feel and look like in order to support and nurture the diversity of young bicultural children placed in my care. Our program served predominantly children who were of Alaska Native Indigenous ancestry. Literacy evolved around the objects, animals, and people reflective of a Native Alaskan way of life, from the foods we ate to our cultural customs. It seems that I was ahead of the time as this would be later known as “culturally relevant approaches” to teaching.

Keepers of the Dreams—Bicultural Praxis The fresh new soil in our minds was rich and fertile, ready for the seeds of knowledge to be planted, to flourish, and to grow, as we began our Pacific Oaks College Northwest weekend class Working with Bicultural Children. The class was to focus on the theoretical and pedagogical underpinnings that supported the work with children who were bicultural. We were to explore and examine core concepts integrating the principles of children’s bicultural development with strategies for practical application within an educational approach to be developed by us, the students, through the process of a participatory action research. “We were aware of the overrepresentation of children of color in school failure indicators and we also knew that students of color have been successful academically with culturally relevant approaches” (p. 1). Thus, grew the birth of ten ideas for Teaching Umoja: Simultaneous Culture-Centric Approaches to Education—A Participatory Action Research Project (Cronin, Palmer, & Beyers, 1996). To be in dialogue is necessary in order to engage one another in thinking at a deeper level. This process moves us to examine our thoughts for gaining clarity around our collective understandings. It is then that we can move forward in the direction necessary to create the change we seek in order to enhance our collective efforts within our bicultural communities. Darder (1991) further substantiates this point, in saying, “This dialogical method represents the basis for a critical pedagogical structure in which dialogue and analysis serve as the foundation for reflection and action” (p. 94). Thus, our Umoja dialogue began with the construction of our “conceptual framework” anchored in a triliteracy, as reflected in a culturally grounded enculturation process necessary to a bicultural praxis. In my work, I defined this triliteracy in the following way: First level literacy is being solidly grounded in your own cultural center. This type of literacy reflects the how and why of culture, including the traditions that are transmitted through written and oral stories.... Through this process, students of color may become well entrenched in their cultural sense of being which becomes the fulcrum for the other literacy levels.... The second level of literacy is the ability to navigate the dominant society ... students of color become knowledgeable of rules and codes of power and gain fluency in the oral and written language of power of the dominant society. The third level of literacy is gaining fluency of another cultural group (three or more); at this level of literacy, the individual approaches the “cultural center” of another cultural group. (Lenear, 2008, p. 158)

One of Darder’s (1991) major contributions to the field has been to expand our understanding of culture and its relationship to power. These philosophical ideas were to serve as a lifeline for me during my efforts to better understand my own bicultural process and my work with bicultural children and their families. Her words informed, affirmed, and nurtured my passing from a split and separated life as reflective of Cultural Dualism to 149

the place of having the skills to respond to domination through the lens of Cultural Negotiation (p. 57). For me, this was a crucial breakthrough in that this became my rite of passage and the unshackling of those oppressive chains that had held my cultural essence captive at the door for so long. Moreover, I have learned over time that, as Darder insists, this was and is not a linear process, but a circular path where I, in the course of my dayto-day life, consciously revisit other patterns of response, depending on the needs or issues I must negotiate at any given moment. As such, it was through the transcribing of our peer interviews that those of us working together with our data analysis uncovered major themes reflective of our life experiences. From those themes, ten ideas sprung forth—ten ideas for taking action: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10.

Reflect cultural images, relevancy, and continuity. Provide and model resistance and survival strategies. Involve parents and community in program development. Reclaim, validate, and maintain the home language. Develop cross-literacy, learn a second language, and negotiate culture of the classroom. Establish “critical mass” and consider intragroup cultural and linguistic variance. Promote “everyday” culturally relevant pedagogy. Prepare culturally and linguistically relevant teachers. Address barriers to providing culturally relevant learning environments. Encourage development of triliteracy in children (Darder, 1991, pp. 7–12)

The results of our research laid the pathway for subsequent energies to be placed upon implementing our ideas in creating a learning environment as a lab classroom for African American and Latino children. This was captured on film, and a video/booklet entitled, Teaching Umoja: Simultaneous Culture-Centric Approaches to Education—A Participatory Action Research Project (1996) was produced. This resource has been utilized in college courses addressing bicultural development and is an example of bicultural educators constructing new knowledge; and through such construction, laying claim to the contribution of research-based content in the field of early childhood education. This was a major milestone as it was the action necessary to catapult us to the next level of work—work that this time was immersed in our particular communities of color. This next journey was also fashioned around critical dialogue. In his work, Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Paulo Freire (2003) described his conceptualization of dialogue. “As we attempt to analyze dialogue as a human phenomenon, we discover something which is the essence of dialogue itself: the word ... if it is in speaking their word that people by naming the world, transform it, dialogue imposes itself as the way by which they achieve significance as human beings” (pp. 87–88). Freire’s notion of dialogue, then, is an encounter (exchange) between people working toward reaching a destination for mutual benefit, which required the ingredients of love, humility, belief in our personhood, hope, and critical thinking. Darder reinvigorates this commitment to critical dialogue in her principles of critical bicultural education, as a process in which we, collectively, participate in the formation of a social consciousness that addresses racism and other conditions of oppression as experienced by bicultural communities in the United States.

Collective Reframing and the Libratory Act of Love Lisa Delpit (2000) wrote an essay in a form of a letter to her daughter Maya. It came from a place of love as a way to share her thoughts with her daughter about the insidious positions that we as people of color are placed when faced with racism—the ripping away at our sense of wholeness, uniqueness, collectiveness. As a mother she spoke to the essence seen in her daughter’s spirit. You are amazing. Your golden brown skin, your deep black “ackee” eyes, your wiry, gold-flecked hair that seems persistently unwilling to stay contained in any manner of braid or twist I devise.... As much as I think of you as my gift to the world, I am constantly made aware that there are those who see you otherwise. This country we live in is steeped in perverse contradictions about race and color. Its tragic history of slaver, its horrendous record of lynchings and other violence inflicted upon its darker citizens, its sad tradition of segregation all have left a legacy of psyches torn apart with contradictions.... Although I still cannot protect you from the outside forces, I have tried to protect you from the disease of internalized racism—of seeing yourself through the eyes of those who disdain you—that infects the souls of so many of our young people. (cited in Jelloun, 1999, pp. 176–183)


Delpit’s letter reminds me of a letter that I wrote to my six children a few years back. I recall how humbled and vulnerable I felt and my concern for the world my children were facing and would have to face in the future. Was I preparing them well enough to “reject the rejections?” Her letter also reminds me of a children’s book, Grandpa, Is everything Black Bad? I have this book in my children’s book collection. It seems to capture what transpires in a child’s mind, as a result of all the racializing messages he or she receives. The story line is about a young Black boy, Montsho, asking of his grandfather for reassurance that he, in having black skin, is okay as a person. The child has seen the messages in his world where black equates with negativity and badness. His grandfather begins to affirm and reaffirm his grandson’s sense of self, through the stories of his ancestors from whence he came. Moreover, Delpit (2002) validates Darder’s (1991) perspectives on the hegemonic imposition placed upon communities of color. Just as our skin provides us with a means to negotiate our interactions with the world—both in how we perceive our surroundings and I how those around us perceive us—our language plays an equally pivotal role in determining who we are: it is The Skin That We Speak.... For better or worse, in our stratified society our appearance can serve to create an expectation of success or failure, of brilliance or stupidity, of power or impotence. Those whose skin color or hair texture or facial features do not place them within the dominant phenotype are often viewed as “lesser than.” But our language “skin” provides an even more precise mechanism for determining status. (pp. xvii–xviii)

So, it is precisely from this place of understanding that we decided to launch another community response— Teaching Umoja Commitment: The 15-year Research Initiative—where those involved enter with multigenerational and multicultural life experiences reflected in their perspectives. The purpose is “to harvest the collective wisdom and construct new knowledge around cultural relevant anti-bias strategies supporting children of color in the United States” (Teaching Umoja Commitment, 1999, p. 1). We know that our communities hold a wealth of knowledge or funds of knowledge; this wisdom is seen as Everyday practices ... that are emergent, perhaps counterintuitive, and sometimes opaque. Yet these practices do not emerge from nowhere; they are formed and transformed within sociohistorical circumstances. Practices are also constructed by and through discourses, the ways of knowing that populate our streams of talk. (González, Moll, & Amanti, 2005, p. 1)

Embracing the Commitment As part of our work, we decided that the Teaching Umoja summits would be held in Jamaica, in order for the research team to also experience and learn from the physical, psychological, emotional, and spiritual context of Jamaica’s resistance to colonization. Our hope was that it would broaden our understanding by allowing us to engage with a racializing experience outside of the social and political context of the United States. In holding the planning meeting in Port Royal during the spring of 1999, connections were made for building relationships with community members from Port Royal, Moore Town (Sovereign Nation of the direct descendents of the Maroons), and St. Thomas. The summits were organized with co-lead researchers (Sharon Cronin, Wei Li Chen, and I) and peer researchers (representing seven states) under the guidance of a Council of Elders selected for their expertise, wisdom, and commitment to the next generation. It was and has been the wisdom of Carol Brunson-Day, Antonia Darder, Geneva Gay, Hedy Chang, Coleen Almojuela, Walter Gordon, Mr. Shelton, Zakiya Stewart, Uncle Harold and Auntie Joy Belmont, and Colonel Sterling that has uplifted us through these years, as they reminded us that it took us 15 years to reach that moment in time (April 2001) and it would take another 15 years to progress to the next stage. For this work to be historical and ongoing, it requires our conscious presence, constant participation, critical vigilance, and action over time if we are to effectively work toward a culturally democratic society. We have embraced this commitment to heart and have held it with much respect, love, and devotion, as we work to document our efforts for educators of the future. A video was produced at the summit, and we are in the final stages of completing together a book, Teaching Umoja—Raising and Working with Children of Color, with contributions from the peer researchers from both the United States and Jamaica who shared their strategies to uplift, nurture, and support children of color, so they can grow to be resilient, spirited, and ready to fulfill their destinies as fully bicultural subjects of history.



Consuming Dora The Explorer A Critical Bicultural Reading Judith Estrada, Bilingual Media Activist and Graduate Student Even more disturbing is the widespread belief that ... “innocence” [in children’s media] renders it unaccountable for the way it shapes children’s sense of reality: its sanitized notions of identity, difference, and history in the seemingly apolitical cultural universe ... Henry Giroux, The Mouse That Roared: Disney and the End of Innocence, 1999

At the age of three, my niece Celeste was evidently aware that she spoke two languages. one day she asked me, “what am I speaking?” I said “English.” She followed her question with another. “¿γ ahora?” I answered “Español.” Then, she commented “Dora is the one that teaches Spanish to Boots; why doesn’t he know?” This exchange left me wondering if she thought that Boots should have known Spanish because he and Dora the Explorer are from the same place. The difference seemed clear for Celeste; Dora and Boots did not speak the same language, yet they were from the same place. This is where my curiosity about the impact of Dora the Explorer as a “bilingual” cartoon began.

Personal Reflections young children are socialized to view the world in particular ways, given their culture, language, and lived experiences. In my case, my parents emigrated to the United States in the late 1970s from Jalisco, Mexico, and Colima, Mexico. They met in Los Angeles, California, where they both worked in the garment industry. Because of the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) of 1986, my parents were able to legalize their citizenship status. My siblings and I were born in Los Angeles, California and raised in South Central Los Angeles. we attended the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) and were enrolled in ESL, bilingual, magnet, and English-only classrooms. we all graduated with honors from Theodore Roosevelt High School, located in East Los Angeles. Contextually, Los Angeles is a city that is predominantly Latina/o–Mexicana/o. According to the Los Angeles Almanac, 85.5 percent of Hispanics or Latinos in California reside in this area. Thus, issues of culture, literacy, language, media, and education were embedded in my lived experiences, as they are for so many bilingual and bicultural students in public schools today. Thus, at an early age, I became aware of the need for a bilingual education that could offer a humanizing pedagogical experience for children. In first grade, I remember lining up with my fellow classmates in order to walk to Mr. Alvariño’s classroom, our “ESL/Bilingual” class. Our teacher, Ms. Miller, would call out our names and ask us to line up in a straight line in order to walk to another classroom bungalow. There was a feeling of inferiority, embarrassment, and shame that would always take over my body when she would call my name. I envied those that did not have their names called and could stay in their classroom, their home, and never had to walk to Mr. Alvariño’s class. At the time, I really didn’t understand why some of us had to walk over to the ESL classroom, when many of us had actually spoken both languages since we were born. In Mr. Alvariño’s classroom, we would take our seats with his own “ESL” students, while the “English” students would form a line and walk to Ms. Miller’s classroom. I imagine that perhaps all of Mr. Alvariño’s students who stayed might have wanted to be called to walk to Ms. Miller’s classroom. I recall reading books with headphones; the narrator would pronounce the English word, while I repeated it (phonics practices popular in the 1980s). was this a bilingual or ESL classroom? or was it an English-learning boot camp? other activities would involve playing games that would engage bilingual lessons, with the ultimate goal that we would become English proficient. At the end of the “ESL” lesson, we would all take out our lunch tickets (reduced lunches) and walk over to the cafeteria, where we would be reunited with our regular teacher. Questions that I can still vaguely remember were: why was I viewed differently when we were all coming from similar backgrounds? why was it assumed that, just because my mom checked “Spanish” for our language 153

spoken at home, I did not speak English? And why was I in a classroom with new immigrant students, when I was born in the United States? My everyday lived experiences in the playground are what I can best recall as a site where my bilingualism and biculturalism were affirmed and accepted. My friends and I would speak Spanish and English in the playground, lunch area, after school, and in our homes. We would talk about telenovelas (Spanish soap operas) and cartoons. When speaking about telenovelas, I remember, we would speak in Spanish, recalling particular scenes and predicting what would happen next with each character. We would also act out our favorite scenes and discuss at length our favorite actresses and actors. Telenovelas were part of our popular culture, as well as televised cartoons on our local networks. Popular culture was a vehicle to speak in our language, and by default it was where our bilingualism and biculturalism were accepted, enriched, and valued. Thus, questions of identity, class, citizenship, and belonging were all embedded in my daily school experience at a very early age. I loved my classmates and held my teachers in high regard; however, these questions and the feelings these experiences engendered in my mind and body became markers of the inequalities and adversities I faced as a child—inequalities and adversities that children still face at such an early age, due to their culture, class, language, gender, citizenship, and geographic location.

A Dialogue with Celeste and Giovanni Twenty-three years later, during the summer of 2010, all of these memories resurfaced when I was invited to be a chaperone for a field trip with my 11-year-old niece Celeste’s class. I had the pleasure to share a seat with my niece and her little friend, whom I will call Giovanni. Giovanni is a charming boy who conversed easily. I noticed that he had a phone and asked him whether his parents let him have it and who paid for it. I asked these questions because Celeste had been asking for a cell phone, but we had refused to purchase one for her. As we continued to talk about phones and responsibility, Giovanni showed my niece an image on his phone. It was a mug shot of a bloodied, beaten-up Dora the Explorer. Upon seeing the image, my niece didn’t know whether to smile or shake her head. She said, “Look!” I asked the children what they thought about the image. Earlier, I had coincidentally had a conversation with my niece about the image. She said, “It’s not true. Dora is a cartoon. It’s fake.” However, I still asked, “but what if a child were really hurt like that? what about the people that do get hit just because they look different and simply because they ‘look’ a certain way— what about them?” She shook her head and said, “It’s not fair. That shouldn’t happen. That’s mean. That’s not good.” In the school bus, Celeste began to tell her friend, “That’s not good!” Giovanni replied just as Celeste had earlier, saying, “It’s a cartoon. She’s not real.” At that point my niece looked at me as if she were saying, “Ask him the same thing you asked me.” So, with her approval, I asked Giovanni, “But what about those people who do cross the border and do get beaten up? what about them? Do you think that’s okay?” He quickly responded “Oh no!” At that moment, Giovanni began to tell us that his parents crossed the border and that many of his family members were undocumented. He told us that his parents share stories about the difficulties of people crossing the border and that it’s awful that people treat them differently, just because of who they are, the language they speak, and their appearance. That adulterated cartoon image of Dora made possible a conversation that would have probably never occurred if not for the context and my role on that field trip. However, the conditions of our critical dialogue about the image made it possible for the student to trust and share that part of his lived experience and his family’s reality with us. The connections that young children can make to their lived experiences, through an image that was not created necessarily for them, gave us the opportunity in this instance to engage such delicate topics as immigration, citizenship, difference, harassment, and what is “real” and “not real.”

Dora the Explorer Goes to School My parents taught us to care, love, and be compassionate for others. These cultural values carry much weight when one enters into research that links media representations, which are oftentimes fabricated representations (i.e., undocumented immigrants steal U.S. citizen jobs) and false depictions of lived experiences 154

(i.e., undocumented immigrants parents don’t care about education). My niece Celeste is growing up with these same cultural values. She was the one who introduced me to Dora the Explorer—an animated cartoon program of a seven-year-old bilingual Latina girl. Celeste was four years old when we were watching Dora the Explorer and, all of a sudden, she asked, “why doesn’t Boots speak Spanish? when he does speak Spanish, it sounds funny.” Dora’s sidekick friend Boots is a monkey who wears bright red boots and is her faithful companion on all her adventures. Celeste made me aware that there was a language difference among the cartoon characters. At that point, I wondered if she were able to notice this because of her bilingualism. Celeste has been raised with my parents in a monolingual Spanish-speaking Mexicano household, which is typical of many young children in Los Angeles. In fact, according to the Los Angeles Almanac, 37.89 percent of children five years and older speak Spanish at home. At age three, Celeste was enrolled in a bilingual Head Start program. The Head Start program, a national school readiness program in place since 1965, assists lowincome children to be prepared to enter school. The program provides comprehensive education, health, nutrition, and parent involvement opportunities. As such, it is important to note that in 2010, the new school readiness program, “Beyond the Backpack,” launched by Nickelodeon, National Teacher Parent Association, and the Children’s Defense Fund, installed Dora the Explorer as its official representative. Hence, millions of young children are being exposed daily to the Dora image.

Difference and Critical Bicultural Pedagogy Questions of difference are central to theorizing about bilingual, ESL (English as a second language), ELL (English language learners), and bicultural students, due to the undeniable classifications, most formal and informal, that are inherent to the schooling process of bilingual/bicultural children. Classifications perhaps might be helpful, if they acknowledged students’ differences and were linked to a pedagogy that builds on their cultures, languages, and lived histories outside of schools. However, traditional classifications track bicultural students into limited spaces, while limiting their creativity and social growth. oftentimes, bilingual/bicultural students are stigmatized, alienated, and seen as the “other” in the classroom due to many variables, but primarily based on the way they speak and the way they look. It is one of the reasons that Antonia Darder’s (1991) theory of a critical bicultural pedagogy emphasizes the importance of understanding the politics of difference at work in the schooling process of children like Celeste. This, of course, demands that we move toward an education where differences are not simply celebrated as “multiculturalism” without any interrogation of the structures of difference, but rather where differences are critical addressed in order to enact a liberatory pedagogy within bicultural communities (McCarthy, et al., 2005; Darder, 1995, 2002). Difference as explained by Iris Marion young (1990) can easily become an essentialized practice for those who believe in assimilation or those who are members of the privileged class. She argues, “Essentializing difference expresses a fear of specificity and a fear of making permeable the categorical border between oneself and the others” (p. 170). Thus, a politics of cultural difference, or what Darder terms cultural democracy, practiced in the classroom can lead to a profound understanding of how power and identity work and ultimately can assist those students from communities that are disenfranchised and stigmatized to critique and engage the asymmetrical power relations that shape their lives. However in the process, teachers cannot assume that students are not engaging issues of difference in their lives or that they do not notice the ways in which difference is at work in the classroom. Often, students who might not have the language to name their oppression can describe it in terms that are familiar to their homes and communities. This is where bilingual/bicultural teachers are needed and where a critical bicultural pedagogy is most useful. In her work Culture and Power in the Classroom (1991), Darder explains that a critical bicultural pedagogy “relegates to critical reason the possibility of establishing the conditions of discourse for the raising and reconciling of controversial claims related to knowledge and power” (p. 92). If power and knowledge are always of central concern, then a critical bicultural pedagogy can support students to affirm, question, or challenge notions of difference through developing a better understanding of the power relations that exist within the classroom and their communities. Notions of difference with respect to disenfranchised bicultural populations are significant due to the social 155

consequences that these students face in and outside of schools. As Darder argues, Bicultural students must find opportunities to engage in classroom dialogues and activities that permit them to explore the meaning of their lived experiences through the familiarity of their own language. But also important to their development of social consciousness and their process of conscientization is the awareness of how language and power intersect in ways that include or exclude students of color from particular social relationships. (p. 103)

In this case, Darder is calling for a pedagogy that reflects students’ lives in ways that assist them to negotiate social relationships of difference, where they are bound to be challenged solely on the basis of their language, the color of their skin, or their communities of origin—and this includes U.S.-born bicultural children. As such, a critical bicultural pedagogy calls for the integration of both cultural and literacy practices that can effectively address the academic needs of working-class bicultural children, who are often negatively affected by antibilingual/ bicultural and anti-immigrant legislation. Moreover, Darder explains, “A critical bicultural pedagogy holds the possibility for a discourse of hope in light of the tensions, conflicts, and contradictions that students must face in the process of their bicultural development.” Without a doubt, Proposition 227, the antibilingual education initiative passed in California; Proposition 203, the antiimmigration bill passed in Arizona; and Article 13, in Colorado, which denies services to undocumented immigrants, all create enormous conflicts and tensions that bicultural/bilingual children and their families must face in schools, whether or not they fully understand the details of these legislations or public policies that impact their lives. Recently, Univision (a televised-Spanish news program) aired a young student asking the First Lady, Michelle Obama, what was going to happen to her mother, who is undocumented. In a variety of ways, children like this one express their fears about the future and their awareness of the inequalities and adversities, telecasted daily on television news broadcasts and other media outlets. First Lady Michelle Obama simply said, they “are working on solutions.” This response may be fine for television, but it is absolutely insufficient in the classroom. How then can a teacher take this moment and support different levels of conversations with eleven-year-olds (fifth-graders) about immigration, education, politics, and ultimately human rights? Darder’s principles for a critical bicultural pedagogy offer just such a space—one where children’s intellectual and physical border crossings are both welcomed and can be addressed.

Consuming Dora the Explorer As our world shifts and linguistic and cultural contexts change, we as educators must be vigilant of the manner in which corporations impose their ideologies on children through the medium of cartoons. Children at an early age are being initiated into the culture of consumerism and conditioned toward apolitical and ahistorical views of the world. In particular, market-driven “bilingual” products that claim to support multicultural pedagogy or curricula have to be interrogated constantly, just as all other mediums of information and entertainment. When viewing cartoons such as Dora the Explorer, upon first glance we may not find anything dehumanizing or oppressive in its content or depictions of their bright colors and multiculturalism. But when one begins to critically read these cartoons and the images that circulate the Internet parodying these children’s cartoons, we begin to get a better sense of what children are viewing and consuming, regardless of whether it is on TV or it decorates a pair of pants, a lunch box, or a book. In the case of Dora the Explorer, it cannot be denied that profit, education, and policy are intertwined with questions of language, culture, and literacy (Giroux, 1999). Culture and language are objectified and commodified as multicultural education; sold to children, parents, and educators as somehow authentic cultural portrayals; and incorporated into a federally funded program, while huge corporate profits are made from children’s consuming of Dora. To break through the contradictions that consuming Dora pose for children, Darder’s critical bicultural lens is useful in deciphering and interrogating cartoons like Dora the Explorer in the classroom, in order to help equip bicultural students, as well as their parents and teachers, with critical skills to decipher media representations that target them daily. A critical notion of literacy is also at work here in reading competing meanings that surface within seemingly innocent cultural reproductions found in children’s cartoons. As Freire and Macedo (1987) explain, “Cultural reproductions refer to collective experiences that function in the interest of the dominant groups, rather than in the interest of the oppressed groups that are the object of its policies” (p. 156

147). As such, Dora the Explorer is an excellent example of this phenomenon. yet, despite the problematic aspects inherent in these cultural representations, there are possibilities for critically engaging their meanings by unveiling the hidden curriculum that inform them and making their contradictions available and open for critique. Moreover, given that children are subjects of history, the empowered social agency that can emerge from opportunities to question their world also implicates them in transforming knowledge, language, and culture in the classroom.

Reading through a Bicultural Lens The six principles that Darder (1991) lays out for a critical bicultural pedagogy provide teachers a bicultural lens from which to interrogate issues of culture and power, such as those discussed here, and keep them at the forefront of their classroom practice with bicultural children. In this instance, such a lens is helpful in engaging Dora the Explorer within a culturally democratic process rather than a profit-driven, corporate, multicultural project supported by traditional educational ideals. Hence, in the following, I briefly integrate a critical bicultural pedagogy to provide alternative readings of Dora the Explorer, in the hope of potentially guiding bicultural children through a more emancipatory engagement of cartoon episodes. 1. Critical bicultural pedagogy is built on a theory of cultural democracy. Dora the Explorer is presented in a mish-mash of Latinidades that makes the national cultural origins of the cartoons characters fictitious, confusing, and unreal. Instead, teachers can use Dora in alternative ways. After watching an episode, teachers can assist bicultural children to note the voices and issues absent in the cartoon depiction and instead offer lesson plans on specific histories in order to provide substance to the episodes, which reflect specific cultural markers from Mexico or Puerto Rico. For example, lesson plans could inform children about important political marches that have united Latina/o communities against anti-immigration laws and about proactive efforts of parents advocating for bilingual education, as well as dialogues about anti-immigrant or antibilingual sentiments aired by the media. By so doing, it would create the conditions for bicultural students to dialogue about how they are part of these and how they can be active and cultural citizens. 2. Critical bicultural pedagogy supports a dialectical view of the world, particularly as it relates to the notion of culture and the bicultural experience. Generally cartoons such as Dora the Explorer are presented to children as certainties and absolutes, with moral messages that suggest that good children should conform to particular practices. In an examination of Dora episodes and its uses in the wide sale of products to children, what is readily seen are contradictions that do not promote biculturalism or bilingualism, but rather support an assimilative view of Latino identity and a world that is still in concert with the consuming desires of mainstream America. Hence, a critical bicultural pedagogy urges teachers to pick through with children the cultural contradictions and disjunctions that are at work. Teachers can assist children to critically engage with the tensions at work not only in Dora the Explorer, but in the contradictions between how bilingual children are being defined by the media and the realities of their everyday lives, as colonized subjects working to redefine themselves as decolonized cultural citizens. 3. Critical bicultural pedagogy recognizes those forms of cultural invasions that negatively influence the lives of bicultural students and their families. The issue of “cultural invasions” is at work in the assimilative and undefined curriculum of Latinidad that Dora the Explorer presents to children. This phenomenon is well illustrated in closer examinations of different episodes of the cartoon series. For example, “El Coqui” and “Te Amo” episodes both present stories that have been appropriated from Puerto Rican and Mexican cultures but shown in such ambiguous portrayals that they function to promote a blended assimilation rather than to honor and preserve the cultural integrity and cultural richness that inform the origins of these stories. As such, this assimilative and colonizing approach ignores the historical significance found in these cultural stories and the powerful meaning they have for the cultural communities from which the stories derive. Hence, in a critical bicultural pedagogy the origins of these stories are recovered and introduced in the curriculum, along with opportunities for children to dialogue about what they know and to consider what the stories mean to them today. 157

4. Critical bicultural pedagogy utilizes a dialogical model of communication that can create the conditions for students of color to find their voice through opportunities to reflect, critique, and act on their world to transform it. Darder asserts that a critical dialogical process can be practiced with children of any age. Hence, as shown earlier, younger children viewing Dora can point out what they see different from and in common with themselves and Dora, when invited into a question-posing dialogue. Through a critical dialogical process, bicultural children find the space to awaken their bicultural voices as they express freely their thoughts and share their own insights and histories. In this way, a critical biliteracy can be practiced here as well. Bicultural children are literate of their world and can make sense of it through the different languages and expressions that they learn within the lived pedagogy of their own cultural communities. 5. Critical bicultural pedagogy acknowledges the issue of power in society and the political nature of schooling. There is no question that most cartoons for children function as a passive induction into the values of the mainstream, and as discussed previously, Dora the Explorer is no exception. From the standpoint of power in society, these cartoons can also be seen as conditioning and socializing agents, which also prime children to consume. As such, they are powerful examples of how children’s popular culture also functions in what Freire called a “banking education.” All through Darder’s articulation of a critical bicultural pedagogy, she counters the normalizing of a banking education by providing a solid critique of the American educational system, as well as of both conservative and liberal notions of multiculturalism. Hence, an important aspect of the critical interrogation of Dora the Explorer is the recognition that these cartoons, as innocent as they might appear, are inscribed by the power of the dominant culture. Thus, they are constructed and fed to children according to a hegemonic paradigm, which marks the characters as highly desirable, docile, and conforming. Furthermore, these characters are exoticized and commodified in ways that belie the public relations of their well-meaning intentions. In response, teachers can again tease out with their students the pleasures and joys in children’s responses to Dora the Explorer, as well as unveil distortions that work against their emancipatory interests. 6. And above all, critical bicultural pedagogy is committed to the empowerment and liberation of all people. It is crucial for educators to recognize that the central intent of a critical bicultural pedagogy is the development of an emancipatory consciousness for bicultural and Euroamerican children. Through ongoing participation in critical classroom dialogues about the popular culture they consume, all students can participate together in their empowerment and in the making of a more democratic society. And this emancipatory principle of a critical bicultural pedagogy is what can potentially unite progressive policy makers, media producers, educators, families, and communities to work together in deciphering the impact of a market-driven popular culture upon our children and ourselves as citizens and consumers of media.

Conclusion Everything in this world and society is linked to the power of the media. Cartoons such as Dora the Explorer arise within a particular historical, political, and economic juncture. The rapid growth of Latinos and other ethnicities in the United States is here to stay, as are migratory processes that bring political economic changes. These concerns, as Darder (1991, 1995, 2002) has well articulated over the years in her work, must be linked to the educational process of Latina/o and other bicultural children in the country. Wide-reaching cartoons that claim to be bicultural and bilingual must be carefully questioned in order to unveil the ideologies and power dynamics that inform them, underneath the colorful rainbows and talking monkeys. This is an ongoing struggle, which requires us to keep open the conversation and to consistently ask children and one another how popular cartoons might be used to inspire an emancipatory life rather than to perpetuate debilitating stereotypes that ultimately distort the lived conditions of bicultural children like my niece Celeste. There is no question that a lived cultural pedagogy is at work and that bicultural children are constantly navigating borders, consciously and unconsciously, as they survive inspections, contend with surveillance, learn new languages, and create new worlds for themselves and their communities. These are the realities that cultural productions targeted to bicultural children should reflect. 158

Epilogue Celeste attends junior high school now, and although she has left her adoration for Dora behind, my memory of those vivid conversations with my niece still remain with me and continue to be relevant to how I understand a bilingual and bicultural way of life. My own awareness of bilingualism made me curious of what she thought, but my questions only surfaced when Celeste thought they were important enough to ask. I’m glad that I was there to listen and to respond. Unfortunately, many children are not so fortunate, given that few people seem to take seriously the impact of children’s media on their sense of self and the world. Since those days, Celeste has not spent hours thinking or speaking more about these questions, but I know that they were important to her at the time. And, undoubtedly, it was Celeste’s bilingualism and biculturalism that prompted her to question these issues and, by so doing, transform my thinking.


Bicultural Education & Issues of Culture and Power From Classroom Practice to Educational Leadership & Advocacy Karen Cadiero-Kaplan, Teacher Educator & Administrator It is not our role to speak to the people about our own view of the world, nor to attempt to impose that view on them, but rather to dialogue with the people about their view and ours. We must realize that their view of the world, manifested variously in their action, reflects their situation in the world. Educational and political action which is not critically aware of this situation runs the risk of either “banking” or of preaching in the desert. Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed, 1970

Words and actions can either empower or disempower others. This important assumption describes best the manner in which I have worked with bicultural students and colleagues both as a public school teacher and now as a professor, administrator, and bilingual advocate in higher education. Since the early 1980s, I have lived and worked in bicultural communities both inside and outside of the United States. I, as a white workingclass educator, have witnessed firsthand what Antonia Darder means when she writes, “Bicultural students react, adjust, and accommodate to the emotional anxiety and physical stress that result from a constant cultural dissonance” in our schools and society (p. 54). I began my teaching in special education classrooms, working with predominantly bicultural African American and Latino children and adolescents labeled by the system as “socially emotionally disturbed” and “learning disabled” students. I was told from the beginning that I expected too much of my students and their families, that I was too idealistic and I had to realize that my students were poor, many not speaking English, some living in foster homes, or with undereducated parents. These conditions were seen as a “problem” with few solutions and out of our control. Students were seen as “deficit” and were thus “labeled.” According to administrators, it was my role as a teacher to fix students who lacked knowledge, skills, and language, not by challenging the system, but by teaching them directly what they were missing. One administrator assured me “every young teacher begins idealistically, Karen, thinking they can change the world, but eventually, they, like you, learn to deal with reality.” The “reality” she referred to was that these children had little opportunity to succeed in society and that the best we could do was teach them English, appropriate social skills, and sufficient academics to function in society. These statements, rather than deter me from my passion to seek answers, only reaffirmed my commitment to the education of every child. Hence, my responsibility, as both Freire and Darder argue, was to take children from where they enter the system and provide them with experiences that engage their hearts and minds. In that spirit, I was committed to teaching students in humanizing and respectful ways, building on the strengths, ability, and knowledge they brought with them, rather than focusing on what they lacked. In my work as an educator, I was learning from my students to “discover what bicultural people feel, think, dream, and live” (Darder, 1991, p. 71). In working with diverse youth and their families, it was clear that often they felt they had little control over their circumstances, but they still carried dreams that their children would succeed and that school was the place this would happen. Parents believed that we (teachers) could teach their children so they could have educational opportunities that would improve their lived conditions. However, it was clear that few administrators or teachers listened to these dreams, reflected on their lived realities, or valued their language. Rather they scripted responses I was to provide, and spoke to deter parents from asking critical questions. I worked in tension between what parents desired and believed the system was providing and the knowledge that those in power wanted to control what their children learned. The contradictions existed without dialogue or critique. I often felt powerless to make a difference and did not have the language to name and therefore begin to transform the situation. Culture and Power in the Classroom provided a language from which to think dialectically and begin “to uncover the connections between objective knowledge and the norms, values, and structural relationship of the wider society” (Darder, 1991, p. 80). What I realized that I was seeking were answers and a process to change the disempowering conditions in which I was teaching. Through developing a more keen understanding of a critical bicultural pedagogy, I 160

gained language to support my examination of the underlying political, social, and economic contexts in which bicultural students and their families live. The dialectical process, as articulated by Darder in Culture and Power in the Classroom, also assists teachers and students in analyzing “their world, to become aware of the limitations that prevent them from changing the world, and finally to help them collectively struggle to transform that world” (pp. 80–81). I came to recognize that I could not change the situation without recognizing that the disempowering conditions faced by bicultural children and their families were not isolated from the larger social system, and as such, that any change would require a recognition that their issues are “part of the interactive context between the individual and society” (McLaren, 1988, p. 166). For example, I was expected by the school to teach students appropriate social skills to “assimilate” them into the dominant cultural model of “success” without questioning “why” or looking at the resources that were lacking in their lives. So, while I was valuing student voice and experience in my discussions with students and their families inside and outside the classroom, I was at the same time utilizing a reading curriculum that did not have stories of children or youth who looked like them or spoke like them. I was, in fact, teaching students to read texts they often times did not want to read and at the same time requiring them to read and speak in a language (English) that they did not fully comprehend. My actions, unbeknownst to me, were thus contradictory and, as Darder rightly identifies, immersed in a liberal educational discourse, well meaning but nevertheless culturally and linguistically oppressive. On the one hand, I recognized their subjective voices while learning of their lived realities; but on the other, I taught the values and norms of the dominant culture, not providing a space to question. In not challenging the curriculum or posing alternative views, I inadvertently perpetuated the notion that in order to be successful, bicultural students had to “assimilate” to the language and cultural values of the dominant system. At that time, I was aware of the daily tensions my students and their families faced and believed I could somehow change their world without engaging their emancipatory needs. What I learned from reading both Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed (1970b) and Darder’s Culture and Power in the Classroom (1991) was to first name what I was doing and then recognize what still needed to be done in order to provide a space of empowerment for students and their families. What I realized as a classroom teacher then, and continue to recognize in my work today, is the need for teachers to go beyond simple notions of “giving voice” and learning with bicultural students and parents, to also providing opportunities for them to “develop their critical thinking skills, examine their histories reflect on the world, and engage with the dominant educational discourse as free social agents who are able to influence and transform their world” (Darder, 1991, p. 71). Through my early teaching experiences and my critical reflection on what Darder terms a critical bicultural praxis, I became better “equipped to assist students of color in critically examining their lived experiences in an effort to reveal genuinely the impact that cultural domination has on their lives” (Darder, 1991, p. 54). This work, true to her principles, takes place within a culturally democratic environment where students feel safe in speaking openly with others and at the same time learn “the forms of knowledge, values, and social practices necessary to understand how society works, where they are located in it and what inequities exist” (p. 71). In the process, I learned and experienced how “bicultural students shape and are shaped not only by their cultural values but also by their constant struggle to survive with the myriad of cultural contradictions they face in society every day” (p. 71). It is this understanding of a critical bicultural pedagogy that provided me the language and processes to support the awakening of not only my students’ and their parents’ bicultural voices, but my own as a classroom teacher, teacher educator, and educational leader. In my current engagement with educational practices and policies, I continue to face similar challenges as I did when I was a young teacher. However, in order to persist in the struggle, I utilize key processes and strategies to challenge the educational system while educating and supporting the empowerment of future bilingual/bicultural teachers. The first step in this process, as Darder repeatedly argues in her work, is to recognize the need to develop ideological clarity and to understand the role that critical praxis—that is, action and reflection—plays in both keeping us grounded and in teaching and learning with others.

Teacher Ideology and Praxis Ideology, according to McLaren (1998) is “the production and representation of ideas, values, and beliefs” (p. 180). A teacher’s ideology informs not only the knowledge of that individual but also the knowledge he or she 161

presents and represents, both in his or her personal life and in the classroom. For example, many teachers enter their classrooms believing that their actions are neutral, but, as Darder reminds here, all that we do in the classroom is informed by our own experiences, which are connected to specific ideological positions (i.e., conservative, liberal, conformist, nonconformist, etc.). In essence, we act out our ideologies but rarely name the ideologies that inform our practice (Freire, 1970b). In most teacher education programs, ideology is rarely discussed, and if so, it is most likely in the context of the individual, not the larger sociopolitical system and not with the intent of gaining ideological clarity. This process involves interrogating one’s “individual explanations compared and contrasted with those propagated by the dominant society” (Bartolomé, 2000, p. 168). As a teacher educator and educational leader, I provide spaces within my classroom and program to engage in ideological examination. For example, recently in several classes with future bilingual teachers, I showed the documentary Immersion by Richard Levien (2009). This twelve-minute film illustrates the struggle a ten-year-old Latino boy has in communicating in an Englishonly classroom, as the teacher leads the class in a practice exercise for the upcoming standardized math test that will be given in English. After viewing this film, students have the opportunity to discuss the politics that inform this practice, the difference between equality and equity, and the values and ideology of the system. They then contextualize their responses within the principles of a critical bicultural pedagogy and their experiences within the educational system and role as future teachers. This is a clear illustration of praxis, where, as Darder posits, there is an “interface between theory and practice ... where oppressed groups come together and raise fundamental questions of how they might assist each other, and how—through such an exchange of views—an action might emerge in which all groups might benefit” (Darder, 1991, p. 83). Moreover, what the film illustrates (and I experience firsthand) is the ethnocentric discourse of the dominant culture, where the voices of bicultural individuals are seen as inferior, unvalued, and deficient with regard to the aims of the school system and society (Darder, 1991). My current work with and for bicultural students occurs at both ends of a continuum. At the teacher preparation end, my goal is to engage future bilingual teachers, most of whom are bicultural, in developing an understanding of ideology as well as their bicultural voice and knowledge, so they will be prepared to work as advocates and role models for bicultural students and their communities. At the same time, I work at the administrative level with policy makers and other educational leaders to promote equal access and appropriate curriculum for English learners. I experience great tension in knowing that as our university program prepares quality bilingual teachers to teach in public schools settings with bicultural children and youth, there are many schools, still driven by state and federal policies, that view Spanish-speaking students as deficient and unlikely of academic success.

Living in the Dialectic and Sustaining the Struggle As a critical educational leader for social justice, I work directly with administrators, policy makers, and other educational leaders, many of whom reflect, as Darder attests, the dominant culture’s “ideologies, social practices and structures that affirm the central material and symbolic wealth in society” and whose ideology “functions to marginalize and invalidate cultural values, heritage, language, knowledge and lived experiences” of bicultural individuals and groups (Darder, 1991, p. 30). When education is viewed through a lens that focuses on educational equity—where all students must be provided with appropriate cultural and linguistic educational opportunities—then it is impossible to ignore the unique educational needs of bilingual/bicultural students. In my work with educational organizations and state agencies, I repeatedly witness superficial acknowledgement of the importance of students’ home language and culture. In most instances, however, educators and policy makers hold a belief system that perpetuates the power status of English while devaluing the students’ native language and culture (Macedo, Dendrinos, & Gounari, 2003). This, as Darder adamantly argues in her section on language domination, “negates the native language and its potential benefits in the development of student’s voice [which] constitutes a form of psychological violence and functions to perpetuate social control over subordinate language groups through linguistic forms of cultural invasion” (p. 38). Such restrictive notions have been powerfully at work in more recent policies that have functioned to 162

dismantle bilingual programs in schools, as well as national policies that focus on building stronger borders. The impact on bicultural students of such policies is that through a diminished value of native languages, the memory of values and beliefs can then be replaced with English and dominant cultural values. Through this assimilative process, students from subordinate cultural communities, who do not develop their knowledge of their primary language, take on the dominant culture and language as the acceptable worldview; and, as a result, mainstream educational approaches become narrowly focused on developing basic English skills (Cadiero-Kaplan & Rodriguez, 2008; Cadiero-Kaplan & Berta-Avila, 2007; Macedo, Dendrinos, & Gounari, 2003). This process of narrowing educational options for bicultural communities illustrates Darder’s argument that “dominant discourses function to determine what is relegated to the arenas of truth and relevancy” and further how “truth [is] relational, in that statements considered true are seen arising within a particular context, based on the relations of power operative in a society, discipline, or institution” (Darder, 1991, p. 92). To challenge such truths, I have worked in concert with other educators who enact a critical bicultural discourse, which inherently involves the elements of critique and hope. The story below highlights the manner in which Darder’s work supports a “language of critique and possibility” (Darder, 1991, p. 93). Beginning in 2003, I joined with several concerned bilingual teacher educators from other state university campuses to discuss the need for the state to reauthorize the bilingual teacher certification that had been set to expire. The policy-making arm of the state, the Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC), was not responding to our calls for an update of this much-needed certification. Those in power at the time did not see the need, since the number of bilingual classrooms and programs had diminished greatly since the passage of Proposition 227, a state initiative that eliminated mandatory bilingual education for English language learners in California (Kerper-Mora, 2000). After almost two years of collective effort, the CTC assigned us, along with several other advocates, to form a Bilingual Workgroup in 2005. The group was given the task of creating a research process to document the continued need for bilingual certification in the state of California. Following this one-year activity, we reported our results to the CTC staff and state commissioners. After this report, in 2006–2007 another task force was formed to respond to the needs articulated by the data. This next work group was given responsibility to draft and outline the necessary knowledge, skills, and abilities essential for bilingual teacher preparation. Finally, in 2009 the Standards of Quality and Effectiveness for Programs Leading to Bilingual Authorization: A Handbook for Teacher Educators and Program Reviewers was released to all California University Colleges of Education that planned to offer bilingual teacher preparation programs, in at least twelve different languages (California Commission on Teacher Credentialing, 2009). The success of this work required a small number of us within the group to sustain a critical discourse of critique and possibility for six years. This work was challenging at best and could not have been sustained without a core group of critical educators whose ideas were informed by the voices and realities of bicultural communities and who embraced the principles of a critical bicultural pedagogy. From the outset in 2003, along with many other educators we all recognized the need for bilingual/bicultural teachers for the growing number of English learners entering the school system; however, the dominant ideology and discourse of “English only” informed politics at the state level. The more our group achieved “success” in naming inequities of the system and asserting our human agency, the more we were challenged. I learned through this process how a critical bicultural pedagogy for culturally democratic schooling requires a commitment to critical praxis—a process that goes back and forth so that theory and practice are consistently informing one another. In 2005, I had a few months where I felt that it might not be worthwhile to continue with the work of engaging the conservative agenda that seemed to have a stranglehold on our efforts. I was tired of constantly taking two steps forward and three steps back. As I contemplated walking away from this crucial work, I picked up Freire’s (1997) Pedagogy of the Heart, opened it to a random page, and read, “One of the tasks of the progressive educator, through a serious, correct political analysis, is to unveil opportunities for hope, no matter what the obstacle may be. After all, without hope there is little we can do. It will be hard to struggle on, and when we fight as hopeless or despairing persons, our struggle will be suicidal” (p. 9). I put down the book and realized in that moment that I had to stay with this struggle. I realized in that moment that progress was being made, but change is slow and the work for democratic ideals is constant. I began my journey as a teacher working with bicultural children and youth, and continue to learn from my students and colleagues as we work collectively to enact a critical bicultural pedagogy. As Darder (1991) 163

reminds us, “If bicultural students are to succeed in American schools, critical bicultural educators must accept a commitment to work in transforming oppressive structures of educational institutions and to struggle with bicultural students so they may truly become beings for themselves” (pp. 96–97).


Young Chicanas and the No On 21 Campaign Community Politics As a Space For Critical Bicultural Development Laura Galicia, Teacher and Community Activists It was as a bilingual teacher in Los Angeles during a wave of repressive public policy measures against bilingual education, affirmative action, and immigrant rights in the mid-1990s that I began to contend with the tensions and contradictions of my own bicultural existence. Forced to struggle against my own fears and discomforts in the process of learning to work with communities in struggle, I experienced not only the power of embodied activity in the form of my own consciousness as a Chicana but also the fundamental connection between the political character of my identity and the oppositional pedagogy I began to forge. The 2000 mobilization against youth imprisonment in Southern California, known as the No on 21 campaign or the so-called Juvenile Justice Initiative, gave me the chance not only to sustain that kind of engagement, but also to witness the pedagogical power of movement labor in the lives of poor and working-class Chicanas. Rooted in a critique of public schooling for urban youth, the No on 21 campaign disrupted assimilationist myths that obscure the impact of intensifying class inequalities in the lives of young Chicanas and helped them to redefine themselves more clearly as bicultural subjects, through an embodied sense of co-creation in history. Prior to the movement, the economic and social relations in which many participating Chicanas were immersed encompassed different forms of inequality and subordination that shaped their behaviors and decisions as young women. Aside from dealing with varying degrees of economic instability, many young Chicanas involved in the No on 21 campaign were also contending with the impact of incarcerated family members, intensifying segregation, militarized schools, dismantled bilingual/bicultural programs, restricted access to universities, and in some cases the harsh realities of their undocumented status. Worsening matters for many were the strong paternalistic family relations that undermined their voice and participation at home, creating at best ambiguous feelings toward their fathers and/or resentment against what seemed to them as their mothers’ consent and/or passivity. The antidialogical relations of traditional education, moreover, only worsened their disempowerment because, as Antonia Darder (1991) consistently argues in Culture and Power in the Classroom, these function to extinguish the possibility of democratic life in the classroom. Moreover, the assimilationist force within the schooling of young Chicanas also subsumed deeper connections to family, friends, and community, by instilling an ideology that privileged individual competition for grades and aspirations for personal recognition. Indeed, as Darder asserts, the impact of traditional education in the lives of many Chicanas active in the campaign acted as a silencing agent. Given the conditions of oppression active in the lives of Chicana youth, schooling only compounded the challenges of everyday life for participants in the campaign. At the same time, the desire to escape poverty obligated many young Chicanas to comply with oppressive schooling practice. However, the “academic success” some managed to achieve often also subjected them to culturally invasive forms of instruction, patriarchal notions of good behavior, and/or conditioning as passive recipients of reified knowledge. Others rejected the middle-class culture of schooling altogether by cutting class to hang out with friends and/or challenging teacher authority within the classroom. These responses, in concert with what Darder identifies as aspects tied to bicultural crisis, represent varying degrees of opposition, or resistance. Such response patterns are shaped by the unique and collective social and material conditions young Chicanas must negotiate in their efforts to establish a critical bicultural identity in the midst of surviving the stress of oppressive educational experiences. Moreover, although the specific economic, social, and cultural contexts in which young Chicanas were immersed varied widely, the material forces and struggles of their existence made it difficult for many to transcend their immediate social reality. These conditions also produced various ideologies and practices rooted in everyday issues of survival that limited their understanding of themselves and in many cases 165

constrained their sense of futurity. As such, and true to Darder’s critical philosophy of biculturalism, the oppressive conditions they faced had led to a variety of responses among the young women that could be seen as simultaneously affirming and limiting.

The Power of Political Participation yet, despite the previous experiences of the young Chicanas who decided to participate in the No on 21 campaign, the political dynamics of their participation in the campaign turned upside down the antidialogical relations that had previously disabled their social agency and empowerment as subjects of history. Under culturally democratic conditions, as Darder advocates in her work, the campaign created the space for youth to examine the ideological and material forces that had a negative impact on their lives and communities and, more importantly, a real opportunity to do something about it. Whereas the ideology of traditional schooling denies the political nature of schools, movement work within the campaign provided a counterhegemonic space for critique, through reflection and dialogue, where the feelings and lived experiences that youth brought to the table had a place to be engaged. In this way, movement labor provided a critical bicultural pedagogical space in which to enact a process of education that included an opportunity to powerfully challenge the very institutions that dishonored their cultural, linguistic, gendered, classed, and sexual existence as working-class Chicanas. Central to the empowerment of agency was a counterdiscourse that emphasized the human rights of youth and the specific history of exploitation of Chicana/o communities. This enabled these young women to unnaturalize the social formations in which they were immersed and redefine themselves as critical bicultural actors with common interests and shared experiences as other urban youth of color. Immersion into the culture of youth struggle against Proposition 21 thus enabled bicultural participants to recognize the value of their lived experiences and the connection of these to a more expansive community of struggle in ways that are consistent with a critical bicultural vision of education that Darder proposes in her work. Renewed expressions of Chicana/o Power! infused the experience of Chicana youth involved in the No on 21 campaign with historical significance. This enabled the young women involved to recognize that their experiences as Chicanas provided them a valuable source of knowledge and agency in shaping the current political moment. The presence of Chicana/o art within the campaign by contemporary Chicana/o artists, for example, contextualized the central and meaningful participation of Chicanas within a continuing tradition of Chicana resistance. The historicity of struggle was also embodied in the presence of veteran Chicana/o activists who supported students in making historical connections with Proposition 21 and earlier community struggles for justice. Like the Walkouts of 1968, the culminating series of walkouts they organized for the No on 21 campaign, known by the youth organizers as the “Week of Rage,” created an opportunity for Chicana youth to powerfully link the construction of their own bicultural identity with deep historical meaning. The theory of cultural democracy was further operationalized through a praxis of knowledge construction, which, as Darder’s work proposes, organically integrated reflection, dialogue, and action. This approach to political movement work democratized the process of teaching and learning. It also transformed organizational meetings into significant pedagogical sites of counterhegemonic struggle, because questions pertinent to the lives of bicultural students became the subject of collective inquiry. The opportunity to engage the contradiction of unequal opportunities in schools, for example, or anxieties over the cost of individual success overturned the silencing impact of traditional education in ways that were linked to self-empowerment and to what Darder describes as the awakening of the bicultural voice. For many students, the unfamiliarity of coming together as subjects for such purposeful engagement with their own material conditions felt strange. This response reflected their academic conditioning as passive learners, which is in line with positivist orientations of knowledge construction. With consistent participation, however, the young Chicanas were able to (re)discover their innate capacity for critical thought and reconnect with their social agency as critical bicultural human beings. The realization that schooling is ideologically tied to their domestication initially made the youth feel “stupid.” Nevertheless, their consistent pedagogical involvement in a campaign process that enabled them to construct knowledge and reposition themselves as actors in history organically did not allow them to remain in a place of self-condemnation for long. On the contrary, participation in the No on 21 campaign made the 166

relationship between knowledge and power concrete and salient to their lives, because the campaign was anchored to social relations in history that were in sync with their biculturalism. As beings of praxis, or what Darder would argue bicultural praxis, and acting on the recognition of the political nature of their education and the larger social conditions that shaped their lives, the young Chicanas involved in the campaign were able to transform their subordinated and apolitical (or alienated or dualistic) identities through direct engagement with the world. Accordingly, these young women were able to reconstruct themselves as affirmative bicultural youth able to more consciously and effectively negotiate the tensions at work in their lives.

Building Solidarity across Differences Another important pedagogical feature in the mobilization against Proposition 21 was that the place for women to participate was guaranteed. This condition made it possible for young Chicanas to participate democratically across differences. Thus, unlike early Chicana feminists who labored tirelessly for an equal share of power in the process of leadership work and decision making, young Chicanas in this movement were able to enter into dialogue with young men and feel in integrity with their own voices as they engaged their particular perspectives on the issues being discussed and labored alongside male comrades with a greater sense of equality, dignity, and self-confidence. Also significant was the power of the campaign to disrupt the segregated social environments in which many of the students were immersed. While distinct youth subcultures existed within participating organizations, it was work done in coalition with other groups that created meaningful opportunities for bicultural students to forge a collective public voice as youth of color and develop a more expansive worldview. Unlike the traditional assimilative atmosphere of schools, social movement space here provided important opportunities for young Chicanas to labor collectively and in solidarity with young people of different classes, genders, sexualities, and ages. Part of this desegregating impact included the opportunity for teachers and students to overcome the antidialogical relations that are dominant within traditional classrooms. This is because the campaign’s power arrangements allowed for the kind of social formation where teachers and students could coparticipate in the active production of knowledge. The opportunity to engage teachers outside the classroom was a new experience for the vast majority of youth involved in the No on 21 campaign, and yet it was students who often illuminated the path toward culturally democratic practices. Under such conditions, the formation of humanizing relationships in the form of solidarity was enhanced. This, in turn, disrupted binaries of opposition that previously would not allow students to envision the possibility of collective political engagement. It also allowed them to recognize themselves as part of a larger community of struggle, which transmuted their fears and rage into collective action. In this way, as Darder’s critical bicultural philosophy contends, solidarity became a humanizing force linked to the empowerment of social agency and the affirmative formation of a bicultural identity anchored to a larger historical struggle for justice. Solidarity also fostered the kind of caring relationships that prompted individuals to meet each other’s needs. For example, within the campaign, many young Chicanas found a basis on which to build a community of support to help them throughout both their individuation and biculturation processes. These simultaneous processes were strengthened in part by the presence of older Chicana women. Just as what Darder calls bicultural mirrors, the presence of these women, many of whom were college students, helped to disrupt disabling myths that stifled the empowerment of Chicana youth. Among these was how to engage the tensions of family and community in the midst of individualizing forces in schools and the larger society. Instead of confronting the processes of individuation and biculturation alone, movement work enabled young Chicanas to enact different relations of power in the process of considering new choices and possibilities for their lives.

A Critical Understanding of Power True to the title of Darder’s book, culture and power are at the center of many of the social relations that bicultural students must negotiate within the classroom. However, unlike the suffocating outcome of these social relations in the traditional classroom, tensions and challenges within the critical bicultural pedagogical 167

context of the No on 21 campaign actually helped students develop a critical understanding of power. Critical dialogues about media misrepresentations or the unexpected presence of police repression during peaceful organized protests, for example, helped expose the structural and ideological dynamics that sustained oppression. The power of the walkouts also made the function of schools as a hegemonic apparatus of social regulation transparent. Central to this were the uncritical responses of teachers who used fear as a key strategy of repression. Threats related to expulsion, suspensions, and/or lower grades were used to undermine the agency of bicultural youth in schools by creating an internal struggle that alienated students from their own capacity to determine their futures. This concern, moreover, was shrouded in a paternalistic relationship of power that assured the subordination of bicultural students in the name of helping them build a better future. In essence, however, these students were being socialized to forfeit the struggle for their own freedom. Those who walked out, on the other hand, saw the value of education through an organic process that involved their own selfdirected action. Given the powerful experiences that unfolded during the time of the campaign, participation in the No on 21 campaign also generated a general spirit of critique, which persisted long after young Chicanas left the campaign. This phenomenon can best be understood with respect to the powerful manner in which the critical bicultural praxis of the campaign transformed participant’s ability to read their world. Their participation in the movement work also reinforced a disposition toward learning as fundamental to one’s political growth and empowerment. Thus, without anyone ever lecturing the youth about the virtues of higher education or the importance of staying in school, several young Chicanas on the verge of dropping out of high school did graduate. others went on to be the first in their families to attend college. Several are now completing graduate degrees. Most continue to be involved both academically and politically in labor that benefits working-class bicultural communities. I contend in my work that this is so because the praxis-oriented nature of the campaign provided young Chicanas an experience with humanized labor that contrasted sharply with the bureaucratized and impersonal learning they were accustomed to in schools (Galicia, 2010). For one, bicultural students were able to enter into a process of production that was tied to real rather than imaginary needs. The combination of necessary and creative work also created a sense of meaningful participation in the world and allowed Chicana youth to experience themselves as capable of affecting change and contending with real-world consequences. Having experienced the productive power of human activity, these students were themselves able to develop a radically different understanding of themselves as bicultural subjects—very different from the assimilative expectations they would have been subjected to in schools. Thus, the context of movement labor within the No on 21 campaign provided an alternative bicultural pedagogical space linked to both self and social empowerment of bicultural communities. In this particular example, participating Chicana youth were able to break the alienation of schooling and patriarchal family arrangements through a process of education that addressed their cultured, gendered, and classed subjectivities. Central to this process was participation in dialogical relations that enabled bicultural participants to share in the production of knowledge and materialize a political vision based on the realities of their lived experience and their shared histories. In the process, young Chicanas generated communal power that facilitated their capacity to shape their own struggles and futures as conscious beings and bicultural subjects in order to critically re-create their social relations and thus themselves as part of a significant historical moment of political transformation.

Epilogue Various youth organizations and human rights groups, including the East Los Angeles–based Youth organizing Communities, Critical Resistance Youth Force Coalition, Californians for Justice, and the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, mobilized resistance against Proposition 21. Still, on March 7, 2000, 62.1 percent of California voters supported the passage of the initiative despite significant declines in the rate of juvenile violence and forceful opposition by urban youth of color, the majority of who were under the age of 18.3



Bicultural Breakthroughs That Empower Our Lives Reflections of a Parent Educator Cam Do wong, Parent Educator and Program Administrator In the fall of 1995, I had the opportunity to team-teach a class with a colleague in an early childhood education program. The class was offered off campus in a community center. The decision to offer the class in the community was to help dispel the fear and discomfort that many early childhood teachers have experienced from their previous schooling and to create a closer connection with the community itself. At the end of the first night of class, I noticed an Asian student who was waiting to talk to me after all of her classmates had left. I approached the student and asked whether she had any questions for me. She smiled and said, “you don’t know how happy I am.” I asked her, “Why?” She said, “Every Tuesday morning when I woke up, I had a headache. Because I knew I had to go to my early childhood education class after work.” I asked her, “Why?” She replied, “My English is not good. The teachers speak very fast. I don’t always understand what the teacher says. I am worried and scared to go to class.” She smiled and continued, “From now on, Tuesday will be my happiest day of the week. This is the first time since I came to America that I have a teacher who speaks my language, and I understand the English you speak. Thank you for being my teacher.” I thanked her for sharing her story with me. On the way home, I thought about all the young children who do not speak English with whom I have worked in various preschool programs. I wondered more about what it is like for them to be children who have to go to school every day to face learning in a culture and language that is unknown. In most urban public schools, teachers are more likely to be from a different culture and ethnicity than the children they teach. Also, teachers often speak a different language than the children as well. How stressful must it be for the young child who enters into such an unfamiliar environment? I remember when my first nephew started school. In the morning after he got out of bed, he would complain that he had a headache. We would oftentimes wonder whether he was telling us the truth. However, from what I know from my own lived experience, the educational process of children like my nephew can be tough, and it takes a lot of courage to go to school every day and face the fears and anxieties of learning within a culturally and linguistically unfamiliar context.

Learning in an Unfamiliar Context I arrived in America thirty-one years ago, as a refugee from Vietnam; I was one of the Boat People. I started my new life by first attending an English as a second language class at a local community college. I remember being full of fear and excitement on my first day of class. My father taught us that education is a key to survival in a new country. Living in a new country without speaking the language will be very difficult, and this is even more difficult when English speakers use idioms or slang in their speech, which makes understanding them very confusing at times. Through my college experiences, I came to learn that traditional American pedagogy is very different from how I was educated in Vietnam. For example, in class, after an instructor provides some information or gives a lecture, she or he often asks, “Does anyone have any questions?” As an English language learner, it took me a long time to process what the instructor meant. I first had to translate correctly what the teacher said and then check within to figure out whether I had any questions from the learning materials. If I had a question, then I had to formulate my thoughts into a question in my primary language and then translate my question or statement into English. The whole process usually took several minutes for me, and by the time I was finally ready to respond to the instructor, he or she had already moved on to another subject. After a while, I learned to decipher the instructor’s intention in asking the question and did not worry so much about understanding every word the instructor spoke. My personal experiences of learning English as a second language taught me as a teacher to make sure that I spoke slowly, paused after asking a question, and repeated it if necessary, when 170

working with English language learners. When one does not speak English, the speed of conversation in English seems very fast. It would at times be difficult for me to respond so quickly. The wait time between when one person speaks and another speaks seems very short. For this reason, I often experienced a difficult time participating actively in conversations. Also, I’ve noticed that teachers in the United States want students to share their ideas, thoughts, and opinions in class. In my home culture, I was taught that a child should listen and not speak. My parents always said, “The bucket that is full doesn’t make a lot of noise. The bucket that is full does not make any noise.” Given these cultural and linguistic differences, it took me a long time to learn to express myself and speak up in a group. When I work with Asian parents and those from other cultures, I often remind them that in U.S. schools, asking questions, sharing ideas, and offering opinions is considered very important. In some ways, I had to explain that in the United States the values include the notion that the “Squeaky wheel gets the grease.” Students that are silent are often forgotten and neglected. As a student, many of the classes that I took required a lot of group discussion. I struggled with my enculturated belief that the teachers are the only ones who hold the knowledge to educate students. So, when teachers here often asked students to share their opinions and thoughts in class, I would wonder, “Why are the students doing all the talking?” I noticed that I had a difficult time coming up with my own ideas and opinions because in my schooling in Vietnam, we were never asked or given the opportunity or skills to reflect and present our views, thoughts, and ideas. Instead, the emphasis of my early training was on everyone learning the material presented as the teacher presented it. As you might imagine, it took me many years to develop the skills necessary for participating in critical dialogue. With this in mind, when working with Asian students or other bicultural students who come from similar systems of education, I constantly have to remind myself to be patient and to allow students sufficient time to practice and develop these skills—skills that cannot be forced. Hence, to live and learn in an unfamiliar culture and language, as well as in a new educational system, is very complicated. Life can be overwhelming at times. There are often many unanswered questions, feelings, and thoughts that just sit in the margins of our experience, waiting for a breakthrough.

A Bicultural Breakthrough When I attended graduate school at Pacific oaks College Northwest with a cohort of diverse classmates and colleagues, things changed very quickly for me. Many diverse and sensitive topics about culture and language were raised and addressed in my course work that spoke to my experiences as a Chinese woman from Vietnam, now living in the United States. That was particularly true in the courses for bicultural development specialization developed by Antonia Darder. I learned many new ideas that resonated with my life experience. The ideas, as discussed in Culture and Power in the Classroom, examine conditions of biculturalism and cultural democracy and spoke to different aspects associated with being bicultural—that is the experience of learning to effectively negotiate and survive within two very distinct cultural contexts, in which one’s own culture is subordinated or oppressed. These new ideas, along with critical dialogues with my peers, opened up my mind and heart. I experienced a bicultural breakthrough, which enhanced my understanding of self and the world. Many times after classes, I would experience an ocean of feelings—terrible pain, the joy of being alive, confusion, excitement, understanding, readiness to take on the world, feeling overwhelmed, and sometimes anger. Our work in class validated and affirmed my cultural knowledge and wisdom, and it challenged me to think more deeply about areas of cultural contradiction and conflict. The critical bicultural pedagogical process assisted me in demystifying many of my unanswered questions, feelings, thoughts, and practices that I had been struggling to understand for years; but more importantly, this critical bicultural approach also supported me in taking action in my work with bicultural children and their families. In this way, Darder’s ideas moved me to begin making better sense of my daily struggle of living in two worlds where daily I needed to find ways to reconcile the tensions of difference always present. This was especially true when working in a mainstream educational environment, where the values of the dominant culture excluded different ways of being and knowing. Darder’s philosophy of bicultural development assisted me to better articulate my experiences and how to think and act critically in ways that could transform my life, my work, and my teaching. This also created conditions in the classroom for bicultural students to empower 171

ourselves by creating and developing curricula that spoke directly to our social, political, and economic realities. Anchored in a bicultural understanding of ourselves, we were able to bring our knowledge to our teaching in ways that could also assist bilingual/bicultural children and adults to intellectually grow, flourish, and move toward developing and expressing their full human potential.

Cultural Identity I feel great passion for and commitment to my work as a bicultural educator. The process of biculturalism began within me as I came to understand how power impacts the lives of subordinate cultural communities. Through embracing my history, I also became affirmed in my Chinese cultural identity, even though I was born and raised in Vietnam. The issue of culture and identity had always been a challenge for me, even when growing up. My parents had emigrated from China to Vietnam. They are very traditional; they practice Chinese culture and tradition very strictly. When I was in school, my peers told me I was Vietnamese because I was born in Vietnam. My parents would assure me that I was indeed Chinese but happened to have been born in Vietnam. When I was teaching a bilingual Chinese and English child development course, some of the students in the class seemed to believe that the only Chinese who could claim they were Chinese were those born in China. As such, I was told that I was Indo-Chinese. What I’ve discovered from all this is that each person must have the right to determine who he or she is. No one has the right to tell you who you are. I remember feeling very confused and hurt when others told me that I could not be Chinese because I was not born in China. What is clear here is that identity is a very political issue. Now many people would like to tell me I am Chinese American because I am an American citizen. But, as far as I’m concerned, I am Chinese. Hence, given the complex and political nature of cultural identity, questions of culture and power are very important to understanding the bicultural process. When I work with teachers, I often remind them to take time to learn about each child’s ethnicity and community, but not to make assumptions. It’s most respectful to simply ask families. In other words, to effectively educate bicultural children requires the participation of parents, families, and communities within the context of the school. Darder’s examination of the link between culture and power speaks accurately of the tensions at work when members of bicultural communities must interact with the values and beliefs of the mainstream culture. The concepts associated with bicultural development provided me a framework for comprehending why and how cultural conflicts occurred in my life, work, and education. I was reminded of some of my early childhood experiences and many of the different cultural practices and traditions practiced in my neighborhood. I also learned to make better sense of discrimination, bias, and prejudice among different ethnic groups, which once had confused me greatly. For example, I remember when some of my friends who came from Taiwan and Hong Kong told me, “You are not Chinese because you were not born in China, Hong Kong, or Taiwan.” I remember asking my parents to explain to me more about my culture. My parents said, “You are Chinese because your parents are Chinese.” Hence, issues of being bicultural and living in a multicultural world have always been part of my life, even as a young child, but then I did not have the words and language to discuss these topics with my parents. Knowledge garnered from my experience within a critical bicultural learning context both bolstered my cultural identity as a Chinese woman living in the United States and deeply strengthened my work as a bicultural educator. In Darder’s work, I found effective ways to name problems related to cultural conflicts, share them with others, and integrate concepts of biculturalism in my work with young children and their parents.

Parent Education In my work as a bicultural parent educator, I have had the privilege to work with many Asian communities, including Chinese, Vietnamese, Indo-China Chinese, Ethiopian, Somalia, Samoan, Laotian, and Filipino. In this work, I introduce Darder’s sphere of biculturalism to assist parents as well as educators and community leaders who work with families. My intent is to provide a curriculum that can support parents to understand critical 172

moments that arise in their children as they move through the process of biculturation. In the process, I work to create opportunities for parents to share their experiences and the situations they encounter along this developmental journey. It is very powerful to participate with parents in this way, as we work together to answer tough questions related to the struggles and challenges parents face raising their children in a context of racism and other injustices in the United States. The experience of talking together and attempting to make sense of their role as parents within a new cultural and linguistic reality often leads to dialogue where many heartfelt questions are discussed. For example, some of the typical questions that can surface among parents in my groups include: 1. Why are some of the parenting techniques and child rearing practices from the home countries and cultures no longer working in the United States? 2. Why do children think and believe that everything in the dominant culture is the best? And why is the home culture marginalized? 3. Why are some parents holding on to the home culture and resistant to learning about the American cultures and practices? 4. Why is each of the participants in the group at different places of the Sphere of Biculturalism? 5. Why is it important to parent children to become bicultural and bilingual as an essential process and a journey they should undergo? And how can parents support this process? As would be expected, such questions cause us to examine many different perspectives, responses, and insights related to the task of raising bicultural children in a society such as the United States. Many refugee and immigrant parents, for example, discuss concerns tied to role reversals with their children, which can take place when their children understand the language and institutional rules better than the parents do. This sense of role reversal can create much conflict and controversy with respect to parental authority, particularly in Asian families. If there is no intervention to assist parents in contending with this bicultural crisis, the impact can be devastating to a family. As parents experience their children drifting away, less and less connected to their culture and language, both the parents and the children can experience tremendous anger, confusion, and grief. In my bicultural parenting classes, I often raise the importance of maintaining home language and recognizing the power of language within a bicultural context. I also encourage parents to slowly learn English, even if only one word per day. The more that parents do not need to depend on their young children to communicate with the mainstream world, the more empowered they feel to support the destiny of their children. As a consequence, the more stable and healthy the family can grow. Along the same lines, we also discuss strategies for helping their children maintain their connection to the home language. For example, I urge parents to avoid solely using the home language when disciplining their children. From my many years of experience working with Asian communities, I have found this tends to create bad feelings in children toward their home language. I also encourage parents to take their children to weekend home language school programs when possible and to speak with their children about the advantage of speaking two languages. In concert with such discussions, we also discuss the price and consequences of children losing their home language, particularly with respect to the disconnection this can cause to the parent and child relationship, which can prevent bicultural Asian children from embracing the cultural traditions and history that are significant to the formation of an affirming bicultural identity. Moreover, if the family has grandparents present, the children will not be able to communicate and learn from them, causing an ever-widening generation gap. And given all this, we must oftentimes discuss how and why some children believe that their parents are not very smart—and the painful, hurt feelings that parents experience as a consequence. Of course, what makes this all the more difficult is that many parents do not speak English and tend to learn the language more slowly than their children, because of work and family responsibilities. In addition, most parents find few places to contend with difficult issues associated with the bicultural process, outside of our time together. Many discussions tied to parents’ experiences with racism, discrimination, prejudice, and bias are also commonplace in my bicultural parent education classes. On other occasions, parents speak about the negative impact they believe the media, advertising, and peer pressure are having on their children. But beyond the difficulties they experience, bicultural parents also dialogue about what they need to do to be more involved in 173

their children’s education; how they can work together to strengthen their communities; and in what ways they can support their children to be healthy and happy, despite the difficulties they may encounter in the world. Utilizing a critical bicultural pedagogy with parents creates a genuine space for bicultural breakthroughs— where parents can discover the conditions to empower their lives and to make necessary changes for their children, according to the unique situations that shape their families and communities. When parents listen and engage one another in dialogue, the isolation that many refugee and immigrant parents experience is lifted as they connect with one another and begin to feel more confident in their role as parents of bicultural children. My role as a bicultural parent educator is also very much tied to their experiences as Asian refugees and immigrants; this opens the door for me to introduce useful information and construct new knowledge with them as we work together to examine real questions and concerns that arise from their daily struggles to survive. In the process, I too share my stories of survival; together we can find ways to also reflect on larger social conditions, as parents work to make both individual and collective changes that will benefit our children, our communities, and the world.


Bicultural Education and Teacher Preparation Edward M. Olivos, Primary School Teacher and Teacher Educator I first read Antonia Darder’s Culture and Power in the Classroom as a first-year doctoral student in the San Diego State University/Claremont Graduate University Joint Doctoral Program in Education in the fall of 1998. Reflecting back, Antonia’s book and her mentorship came into my professional career at a time when I was trying to make sense of the politics of education and negotiating my own identity as a teacher and student/community ally. In the 1990s I was working as a first-grade bilingual elementary school teacher in San Diego (CA). I had entered the doctoral program in the fall of 1998 with the goal of learning more about education policy and the hope of some day influencing it in a manner that would benefit underserved students. I had become extremely dismayed with California politics and the negative influence they were having on the state’s growing Latino student population. Politics in the mid- and late-1990s had taken an ugly turn in my home state. During a span of just four years, beginning in 1994, California voters had passed an anti-immigrant law (Proposition 187), an anti–affirmative action law (Proposition 209), and an anti–bilingual education law (Proposition 227). All these laws had, in one way or another, negatively affected the students and families I was working with at the time and my own work as a bilingual teacher. In addition to feeling angry about these newly enacted laws, I was also feeling powerless to do anything about them, despite actively working on several campaigns to defeat these initiatives. When I first entered the field of public education in 1993 as a public school teacher, I was unaware of the extent politics was to play in my career as an educator. I had gone through a good teacher preparation program and had entered the profession ready to teach children for whom English is not their native language. I did this with great enthusiasm and empathy for my students, but without the political understanding or the sophistication to understand the complexity of the sociopolitical influences surrounding my job. Indeed, I seemed to be trying to disentangle complex social and personal issues that could not be disentangled but (as I later learned) could nonetheless be named, identified, and challenged.

An Educator and an Ally My research is greatly influenced by my experiences as an educator of bicultural children in the U.S. public school system (Olivos, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2008). During my tenure in the public schools, I worked exclusively in low-income multicultural settings, and I witnessed firsthand, day-in and day-out, and in all contexts, the unjust conditions under which low-income students and students of color are expected to succeed. I accepted my duty at that time to work collaboratively with my students and their communities, in order to struggle for some semblance of educational equity. I also came to the conclusion at that time that there was an urgent need to document and critique these conditions as part of a shared effort to change institutional systems and the mindsets that allow these conditions to exist, reproduce, and become both normalized and legitimized. As I write this reflection, it is now 2010, and I am an Associate Professor in the Department of Education Studies at the University of Oregon. Influenced by the work of Antonia, I feel that my research and work is broader in scope than only preparing individuals to enter the teaching profession, however. I view my work as equally aligned to the field of ethnic studies and other social science fields (sociology or anthropology) in that I approach the study of education not only from a technical lens but from a sociopolitical and cultural one as well. In other words, while I am quite familiar with teaching methods (i.e., pedagogy) and am capable of writing about them and teaching them to my students, I am just as interested (if not more so) in engaging with the sociopolitical, economic, and cultural factors that impact how public education functions in our country, often to the detriment of culturally and linguistically diverse students and communities. For me, my experiences as a public school teacher and as an ally of the communities I serve greatly influence how I approach the task of educating future teachers. Despite the fact that Oregon is less racially and culturally 175

diverse than Southern California, the need to prepare educators who can effectively work with bicultural communities is equally important, if not more so, given the smaller number of advocates for communities of color in this state and the apparent denial of many in our society that the nation is quickly and inevitably becoming more fully diverse—racially, ethnically, and linguistically. What follows is a brief reflection of some of the issues that I contend with in my work and how Antonia’s powerful book has helped me make some sense of the complexity of public education in an inequitable society.

I Just Want to Teach! Preparing teachers who understand the urgent need to be not only effective teachers but also compassionate allies of bicultural communities is no easy task. I and many of my colleagues often find ourselves contending with students who don’t want to engage theory, don’t want to hear about inequality, and definitely don’t want to talk about privilege; rather, they “just want to teach.” In other words, teaching for a noticeable number of preservice teachers appears to be memorizing a series of decontextualized skills that can easily be taught, absorbed, and placed in a routine that can be done year after year, student after student, and over a variety of subjects, without modifications. This rhetoric, which views teaching as a prepackaged, ideology-free practice that can be easily delivered regardless of the audience or the social context, mirrors national education policy that functions to deskill and deprofessionalize teachers and the teaching profession. Preservice teachers have also, unfortunately, emboldened this premise through their actions—most notably, through their ambivalence to engage theories that attempt to situate education within a larger framework of social and structural inequities, or through their resistance to examine how individuals (including themselves) function within this institution, to either reproduce or resist existing power relationships and multiple forms of oppression. In other words, for some of our students, wanting to know “just” how to teach is simply a more palatable way to tell us (their professors) that they don’t want to talk about theory or to engage the political, historical, and/or economic nature of public schooling, nor to confront their own implicit and explicit endorsement of inequitable social practices—and I can understand why. Schooling for many preservice teachers (for me as well) has been a primarily successful endeavor. Sitting in a university classroom provides a concrete example for many students that schools are fair. Education is indeed still seen as the great equalizer. They made it to the university; why can’t others? And for those students whose life experiences have been more challenging or who have suffered more concretely in their educational process, their critique of schooling is often no more poignant, unfortunately. In fact, I’ve come across quite a few bicultural students who share that if they could “make it,” then “anybody can”; it just takes hard work, determination, and valuing education. Moreover, these are precisely the values that they intend to pass on to students and families, when they get into the schools, with the goal of “empowering them.” Negotiating educational theory that attempts to understand the bicultural human experience in a dominant culture paradigm is a difficult task. As a ten-year veteran of the elementary classroom, I understand full well the need to have sound pedagogy and a meaningful grasp of teaching practices that help children succeed in an existing social and academic structure. I am not an “enemy” of, nor am I opposed to, methods courses, teaching preservice teachers classroom management techniques, instructing children through direct instruction approaches, or learning about skills-based teaching and behavioral learning objectives. What I do oppose is the belief that these approaches are sufficient to change the gross inequities found in public schooling and society or that these approaches are the only thing teachers need to know to be effective teachers.

Moving beyond Multicultural Education The U.S. public schools have gone through incredible change since my early years as an educator in San Diego. In just thirteen years, from the 1993–1994 school year (my first year as a public school teacher) to the 2006– 2007 school year, the schools underwent a dramatic demographic transformation. For example, African American students increased by 17.2 percent in the public schools; Native Americans, by 28.4 percent; Asian Americans, by 44.6 percent; and Latinos, by 86.4 percent.4 English learners in our schools almost doubled 176

during this time period as well, having increased by 99 percent in just 13 years to over 4.2 million students! This change is even more dramatic in my home state of California, where over 50 percent of the students in the public schools are now Latino (Kane, 2010). This change is dramatic and undeniable. The public schools have changed so dramatically in the last two decades that many of our former students would not recognize their own schools. Problematic in this equation is that teacher preparation has not changed during this same time period to reflect these “new” schools. On the contrary, in the face of competing with for-profit teacher preparation institutions and budgetary constraints, university programs have eliminated classes designed to assist new teachers in working with diverse student populations and their communities. A token class found in many teacher education programs, however, is still the “multicultural education” class, with its emphasis on teaching cultural “competency” and learning to “celebrate” differences among students. Implicit in these classes is the belief that low bicultural student academic achievement resides in lowself esteem, lower cultural expectations, or in lack of community role models; thus a teacher must compensate for these inadequacies by helping bicultural students understand their “value” in relation to the dominant culture and its practices. This is done in many ways, but most often through the use of cultural artifacts and symbols rolled out through sanctioned times in the school year calendar (Hispanic Heritage Month, Cinco de Mayo, African American History Month, etc.). My teacher preparation program had a similar course, a course that I found useful at the time. Since then, however, I’ve begun to look at this approach more critically. In opposition to this approach, Darder’s philosophy of biculturalism and cultural democracy assisted me to understand that a critical bicultural education must engage the many intersecting forms of oppression. This is a view that I now strongly hold, and it is the view that informs the work I do at the University of Oregon. I am fortunate to be a faculty member in a teacher preparation program that goes beyond building tolerance, by engaging both the notion of cultural democracy and schooling and educators as change agents. In our department, for example, we have done away with the all-encompassing multicultural education course that allots a different week out of the term to discuss “learning styles” and “differences” that are particular to a certain cultural or racial group. Instead, we have elected to have students study more in-depth topics that engage more specific forms of inequalities, with the understanding that interconnectedness always exists across all forms of oppression. For example, students in our undergraduate program are required to take a course called Living in a Stratified Society. This course “examines the stratification of wealth, status, and opportunity for advancement in our society.” In other words, students engage the notion that we live in a stratified society; that mechanisms (both explicit and implicit) are in place that serve to legitimize and reproduce this stratification; and that certain groups are more vulnerable to oppression than others. It moves beyond, in my opinion, the belief that subordination exists as a consequence of deficiencies to an understanding that it exists as a product of institutionalized inequality and domination, as Darder repeatedly argues in her work. After taking the aforementioned required course, students then choose two classes from a “menu” of equityrelated courses. These courses provide students with an opportunity to study in-depth a topic of oppression. These courses are different from traditional multicultural education courses on several fronts. First, the entire course is dedicated to engaging oppression along one particular racial, ethnic, cultural, or other social marker. In other words, unlike many higher education multicultural education courses that typically spend just one week on a different group, these courses provide an opportunity for students to examine a particular dynamic of inequality through various angles and domains and to find links across other forms of social stratification. Courses in this series are poverty (class), racism, homophobia, patriarchy, immigration, colonialism, and genocide (Native American education), ecological sustainability, and so on. Key to the structure of these courses is that they are specifically framed as an examination of oppression and not “difference” or “diversity.” In other words, students examine how colonization, genocide, misdistribution of wealth, environmental destruction are legitimized and reproduced through societal ideologies, beliefs, and practices. This inequity is problematized rather than assumed to be “normal,” or just a way of life. The presence of these courses in the department is a demonstration of the ideology and values that drive our programs. Although not perfect, we (the faculty) understand that education must be examined within a certain social, historical, and political context. This argument was evident for me in Culture and Power in the 177

Classroom, and it still influences the work I do as I constantly try to engage my students in a critical bicultural education.

Bicultural Education in a University Setting Working in a higher education setting has required me to rethink how I teach about the bicultural experience and how I relate to my students. Whether right or wrong, I believe that attending university or working as a faculty member in a university setting is a privileged position. My time here has caused me to examine the purpose of my work with regard to addressing and challenging inequities, particularly as I still believe that bicultural K–12 students are far more vulnerable than university ones. Thus, my primary goal here at the university is often dedicated to creating a context where students from dominant communities learn and engage the bicultural experience through a humanizing perspective. One such example is an immigration class that I teach that takes University of Oregon students to the U.S.–Mexico border for a week to study the issue of immigration alongside humanitarian groups that work to assist immigrants, particularly undocumented immigrants. It is impossible for students (or even me) to put themselves in the shoes of undocumented migrants, but this experiential pedagogical process provides them an opportunity to examine in vivo global inequities that lead people to abandon their families and countries in search of better lives. Students often begin these classes by casually using the descriptor “illegal” to describe undocumented communities or by subscribing to other myths about immigrants and their families. After meeting families on the “migrant trail,” hearing stories of despair and exploitation from the migrants themselves, learning firsthand about the work of organizations that support them, and examining their own privilege and implicit and explicit benefit at the expense of these folks’ labor, I witness a dramatic transformation in the attitudes of students. Students who entered into the course wondering why “these people” come to the United States often finish the class pledging to help immigrant families and communities. This example also well exemplifies the power of humanizing our teaching, through breaking the objectification of “the other” that is so prevalent in our society.

Conclusion My experiences as a professor of education have been very rewarding but at times very challenging. However, it is the knowledge that our work as critical educators and scholars can, in some small way, contribute to improving the educational conditions of schooling afforded marginalized students that keeps me engaged and committed to the work. I attribute a great deal of my current life’s direction to the academic preparation I received as a doctoral student in California and to my direct exposure to the critical bicultural theories and practices found highlighted in Culture and Power in the Classroom. Darder’s work supported me in developing a critical language of analysis and grounded insights into the complexity of the bicultural education experience in the United States. My goal as a college professor is to share these tools with my students, with the hope of someday having the profound impact on them that Antonia’s work has had on me.


De Levantarse γ Seguir Caγendo Taking a Critical Stance in Troubling Times Theresa Montaño, Chicana, Chicana/o Professor and Teacher, Union Activist De levantarse y seguir cayendo Pero hay que correr el riesgo, de levantarse y seguir callendo. Enerna Soledad, Los Enanitos Verdes, 2006

These words, so beautifully articulated by Los Enanitos Verdes, describe my personal journey, my critical bicultural project. As a Chicana union activist and a critical pedagogue, I remain committed to both securing workers’ rights and community justice. As a Chicana/o studies professor, I hold fast to the tradition of activist scholarship that places our work within the “context of political change” (Ortega, 2007). I have selected the public education system as my activist site, although I recognize that the struggle for educational justice is inextricably linked to the broader sociopolitical movement against social and economic injustice. In my work, I apply Antonia Darder’s definition of critical biculturalism to the critical project of defending public education, working within one of the most powerful teachers’ unions. As a member of the California Teachers Association (CTA), I work alongside some of the most phenomenal activists in CTA and CFA (California Faculty Association). As a member of the CTA Board, where I have been elected to represent CFA, CCA (California Community College Association), and SCTA (Student California Teachers Association), I often have to take the risk of alienating well-meaning, well-intentioned, liberal teacher unionists. As an anti-neoliberal, leftist, bicultural Chicana activist, I struggle to implement a revolutionary praxis (Darder, 2002) not only with conviction but also with a clear sense of the culturally democratic objectives this requires. In an interesting twist of fate, I was union before I was Chicana. It was the testimonios of my father’s involvement in the union that facilitated the development of my political consciousness. I grew up in a home where both parents were “union.” The union provided my family with health insurance, whereas others living in Florencia had none. The union provided my family a secure income. We owned our home, whereas others in the same neighborhood rented substandard dilapidated homes. We never ate grapes or crossed a picket line, and I was always reminded that all we had was “thanks to the union.” Now, as a union member in a predominately white educators’ union, my political and professional career can be summed up as the negotiation between what is good for the Chicano/a-Latina/o community and what is good for the union. However, mine is not a unique experience. Ethnic minorities and union activists have always had to negotiate such tensions. I must constantly keep in mind that unions, by their very nature, are not revolutionary organizations. A quick review of union history reveals that the early craft unions of the 1920s were “antiforeigner,” “antiblack,” and “antiwoman.” It was the socialists, communists, and other progressive antiracist forces who taught the trade union movement—previously divided along the lines of race, language, immigrant status, and gender—that it would be necessary to unite to fight the oppression of U.S. workers. yet, even today, unionists of color must constantly remind our white sisters and brothers that “union work” requires unions to take pro-immigrant, antiwar, prosocial justice stances. By so doing, bicultural unionists have worked hard to place our issues at the forefront of union negotiations. It is always tough, but not impossible. Like many Chicano/a activists of the 1970s and 1980s, I was introduced to my history as a high school and college student. In high school, I helped organize the first UMAS (United Mexican American Students) chapter, and in college I was an antiwar activist and an early mechista (member of Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano/a de Aztlan). I became a Chicano/a activist, in part because I believed that educational change could only happen by radically restructuring an educational system that had lied to us about our history, dishonored and disrespected our language, and endeavored to confine our population to the lower rungs of the economic ladder. 179

I remain passionate about securing justice for my people, but I now realize that we cannot seek justice for our own without uniting with others who suffer, especially ethnic minorities and those who live in poverty. As the mother of an incredibly talented, committed, and activist gay Chicano, I also understand firsthand the viciousness of homophobia and will not rest until all forms of discrimination are ended. I resonate strongly with Darder’s insistence here that class inequalities and racism directly impact the quality of education that a bicultural student can attain. As such, the inequalities our students face in public schools and colleges reflect the unequal distribution of resources and class formation that functions to support educational opportunities for those who can afford them and to thwart opportunities for those who cannot. Hence, in keeping with the principles Darder posits for a culturally democratic education, I am passionate about ending educational inequalities that threaten the future of our children and communities. In college, I was introduced to the writings of Karl Marx and Paulo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed (1970b). Along with these important writings, Darder’s Culture and Power in the Classroom (1991) moved me to integrate the concept of biculturalism to the larger critical project of restructuring public education. These works, along with many others, have also connected me as an educator to the oppression of working people internationally. To this day, it is the lessons I garnered from Marx, my work as a professor of Chicana/o studies, and the theories and practices of a critical bicultural pedagogy that keep me grounded and my praxis focused.

Biculturalism and My Work as a Chicana Union Activist As a Chicana, I have learned that my experience is one of “living in the in-between geographical and metaphorical spaces of the borderlands” (Saavedra & Nymark, 2008, p. 269). Darder’s (1991) notion of biculturalism provides educators like me a critical understanding of the process of cultural identity development that takes place for students who grow up in two different sociocultural environments. She articulates the many ways in which we (bicultural people) and our students respond to daily cultural conflicts and how we incorporate our responses into our cultural realities. But most importantly, Darder’s work pushes us to contend with the fact that biculturalism is not only a process of cultural identity development; it is also a political process that “moves us beyond the simple notions of individual psychological theories of identity, liberal paradigms of pluralism, and unproblematic notions of two distinct worlds interacting” (Darder, 1995, p. 266). Darder’s critical theory of biculturalism asks us to contend with our histories, our economic circumstances, and the asymmetrical power relations that impact how working-class bicultural populations are positioned within the context of U.S. society. As bicultural people, we come to learn to negotiate the complexity of our conflicting worlds as we affirm and enact a new unique, hybrid, and oppositional culture. The power of this political understanding of bicultural identity is that it permits educators to extend this work into other arenas of our practice. For example, a colleague and I, writing about issues of identity tied to Chicana teacher activists, posit that in accepting the identity of Chicana, they have also embraced the inherent activism and social justice leanings that are crucial to being, Chicana. Moreover, their identity or Chicana critical consciousness is subject to the social construct of race, language, gender and historical oppression. Chicana is a critically assumed identity (Alarcon, 1998) that when adopted is a social and political consciousness.” (Burstein & Montaño, 2010, p. 6)

For these educators, embracing the identity of a “Chicana” also carries a personal responsibility to critically analyze the societal context of our formation as Chicanas; to name the political and social injustices which negatively impact the community, in order to instill in bicultural students a love of Chicana/o culture; and to teach the forgotten and neglected history of their people (Montaño & Burstein, 2007). Thus, by accepting the identity of a Chicana, I accept the additional responsibility to become an agent for social and political change. This commitment to social and revolutionary change is the bicultural affirmation that Darder speaks of here in Culture and Power in the Classroom. Another critical concept of biculturalism is the bicultural voice that “functions to rupture the historical and institutional silence of students of color and the beliefs and practices that support such dehumanizing forms of silences in the first place.” In concert with Darder’s theory, I have both experienced and witnessed in my work the awakening of the bicultural voice, which is facilitated through a critical process of dialogue that provides us opportunities to reflect on our common experiences, our personal perceptions, and our common responses to 180

domination, alienation, resistance, negotiation and affirmation. As such, I bring the following principles to my work with future Chicana/o teachers and education scholars as being important to the development of our bicultural voice: (1) We must reflect on collective experiences and our individual reactions to these experiences; (2) we must critically recognize our people’s status in society, but not with a deficit gaze; (3) we must resist the many ways in which society tries to ignore, demean, devalue, or dehumanize our culture, language, and history; and, (4) we must create those spaces for building solid relationships, hacindo la conexión, with others as equal partners. Moreover, through Darder’s theory and practice, I came to more deeply understand that as Chicanas/os we must rid ourselves of our political and historical amnesia, embrace our positionality, and hold close to our hearts the concept of revolutionary love.

These Troubled Times Culture and Power in the Classroom has also consistently reminded me that the struggle for educational justice must “hold an emancipatory purpose and acknowledge the process of schooling as a political process” (Darder, 1991, p. 74). In her book, Darder challenges us to embrace critical pedagogy as the foundation of our activist work, to understand the role that cultural politics, economic oppression, historicity of knowledge, dialectical theory, praxis, ideology, and hegemony play in educational process. Darder’s critical philosophy of bicultural education has helped me to connect more fully the struggle for educational justice, my work as a Chicana activist, and the struggle against economic oppression. In other words, it urges us to remember that bicultural development and antiracist work must be linked to challenging capitalism. Accordingly, it has become increasingly important for us to place this struggle in the context of neoliberalism and its impact on our people. As I write this essay, I can’t help but acknowledge that neoliberal policies have resulted in the worst economic crisis in over thirty years. In desperate attempts to increase profit margins, neoliberals are engaged in a swift reconsolidation of power. Their efforts include busting unions and outsourcing jobs, exchanging goods and services without restriction, eliminating public social services, and privatizing public education. Meanwhile, big business works overtime to convince voters and civic leaders that unregulated markets are the best way to increase the growth of the economy. One result is the systematic removal of the “public” from “public education.” As neoliberals solidify corporate power in education and wage deliberate wars against teachers’ unions, public schools have become commodities tied to market place educational reform. Our schools are being handed over to profit charter school managers and teachers’ salaries are tied to suspect teacher evaluations. Compton and Weiner (2008) contend that the most “potentially powerful weapon” for fighting the “war over the future of education” is the teachers’ unions (p. 6). In highlighting the important role that unions play, they also issue a challenge to teachers’ unions to “use their power to fight for and bring to fruition the ideal of a quality education for every child” (p. 9). As a Chicana trade unionist, I identify my struggle as one of cultural negotiation (Darder, 1991) within the context of a predominately white union with varied politics, limited knowledge of ethnic minority issues, and a broad cross section of views regarding educational reform. Cultural negotiation, as Darder defines this bicultural response, requires me to “mediate, reconcile, and integrate the lived reality” of the Chicana/o experience while “functioning to transform” the dominant discourse in public education unions. My work is situated in circles composed of mainly Chicana/o teacher activists, allied with other marginalized voices simultaneously working on a social justice project to both protect and transform public education. As a Chicana/o professor, my project includes working with prospective teachers, preparing them to support the “emancipatory interests of bicultural students.” The struggle inside the union is one of securing the space to raise and represent our voice in a coalition composed of teachers’ union officials and activists. This is not a simple task given the onslaught of assimilative schooling practices and policies currently underway in public education.

Critical Biculturalism and Cultural Democracy As Darder describes in the book’s introduction, the educational climate faced by Chicano/a students is driven by unrealistic and unreliable measures of student learning that drive the curriculum, a curriculum that is 181

monolingual, sterile and scripted. Teaching and student learning occurs in classrooms that are often segregated, underfunded, outdated, and overcrowded. In Texas, school officials have removed the history of progressive and ethnic peoples from the Social Studies curriculum. In Arizona, we see a rise in anti-immigrant and anti-Raza sentiment as the attack reigns down on Raza Studies. Many teachers, who labor in these classrooms for little pay and with no job security, have become increasingly demoralized and begin to lose their passion for teaching. In summary, “our human sensibilities, both as teachers and as students, are trampled and pummeled by educational policies and practices that are irrelevant to the conditions and realities that students, families, and their communities face each day” (Darder, 2010, p. 2). These conditions make the struggle for cultural democracy even more relevant than it was in the 1990s. Darder (1991, 2002) has repeatedly argued that central to the struggle for cultural democracy is the need for solidarity, common interests, and the development of voice. Yet, neoliberal practices of miseducation still control the public discourse on public education, reminiscent of what Henry Giroux (2003) refers to as “the cultural wars”—a larger set of stories repeated in political speeches, on situational comedies, by neighbors, and in newspapers that shape the public commonsense discourse of U.S. schooling. These stories represent the neoliberal media’s successful manipulation of the public conversation and perception of teachers and teachers’ unions, not only among the most reactionary right-wing demagogues, but also by so-called liberal media moguls. Witness the liberal media’s oprah Winfrey actively working to promote Davis Guggenheim’s film Waiting for “Superman”, a feature documentary that blames teachers’ unions for the failure of public education. It is in this context that critical educators must work to facilitate the development of voice, not only in K–12 classrooms, but also in communities, college and university classrooms, and in activist sites like teachers’ unions. As critical pedagogues we must understand our social justice project as inextricably linked to the defense of public education. As I work among teachers’ union activists, Chicano/a studies students and prospective teachers, we collectively engage the challenge of creating a culturally democratic process for transforming education as the public good. As a bicultural Chicana, I seek to continue engaging in an “authentic praxis” of connecting critical theory to resistance, counterhegemony, and critical pedagogy. This process is not an easy one. Our spirits often feel damaged, and the work of decolonizing our minds is often carried out under stressful, hellish, and brutal circumstances. Hence, the road toward establishing a critical bicultural pedagogy is often paved with obstacles and disappointment. Yet the struggle continues, because it must. I close this essay recalling the words of Chicana educator Laura Rendon (2009), who reminds us, may we remain ever “open to see the world anew, to gather strength and courage to work only on those things that keep us present and alive. And may our collective breath be for the vision of a transformative dream of education that speaks the language of heart and mind and the truth of wholeness harmony, social justice and liberation.” And may all this fuel our daily commitment y nos ayude a lavantarnos.


Everyone Has a Story/Everyone Has Something To Say Caron Salazar, Parent and Community Educator I’ve been a teacher for twenty years. During most of that time, I worked in public school programs with children and their parents in the greater Los Angeles areas. Currently, I coordinate a family literacy program in the small town of Cudahy, located in the southeast region of the city. It is a part of the city with a large Spanish-speaking immigrant community that for the most part struggles economically. Yet, the population is one that is very familiar to me, and I have developed my activities in my program that are attuned to its cultural and linguistic needs. The title of this essay, “Everyone Has a Story/Everyone Has Something to Say,” is actually the title for a writing project that I frequently do with parents in my work as a parent educator. The responses to this project are generally very powerful, and I always am left feeling humbled and grateful for the small opportunity I get to be a part of these families’ lives. More importantly, it is inspiring to see families develop their abilities to move, timidly at first, and then more confidently, through a critical process of reflection and critique, as they grapple to name and act on behalf of their education, their own current life conditions, and their own future. Over the years, women and men (mothers and fathers) have shared so many stories of tears, joy, sorrow, insight, strength—all in the process of naming their cultural values, their identity, their personal and family histories; or as Paulo Freire would say, “reading the word and the world” (Freire, 1971). Over time, as I entered into passionate dialogues with parents about life, children, family, community, voice, and identity, I often was struck by the manner in which they struggled to give voice to the differences they faced daily in this society. Bicultural tension and moments of crisis were easily observable in the angst expressed about their older children’s rejection of Spanish or the difficult moments they experienced in their efforts to navigate the school system. And in listening to them, I knew that, although my experiences of growing up as a Chicana were different, true to the discussion earlier in this book, our bicultural voices were still part of what Darder calls the continuum of biculturalism. The parents were simply more on one side of the continuum and I on the other, but together we struggle, laugh, and share our experiences and histories of survival. In her work, Darder identifies what she calls the bicultural process, which is experienced by those, like the parents and me, who navigate and must survive and learn to function within a dominant culture and language that is very different from the subordinate culture of our own families. In a similar way, the stories shared by the parents also point to a process of biculturation that is dynamic and changing, experienced over time, shaping how we experience both our individual and community identities. As part of the family storybook writing activity, I often include ideas that are fundamentally rooted in Darder’s theoretical framework, given its effectiveness in assisting teachers to both identify and develop important notions that serve as focal points for the critical exploration and understanding of bicultural identity and bicultural community empowerment. With all this in mind, I will attempt to show how I utilize her framework of bicultural development in my practice, as this essay unfolds. On one particular Friday, while I was encouraging parents to engage in the praxis of telling their story, I realized that I too had my own bicultural story. So on that very Friday, I began to piece my own story together, at the nice ripe age of fifty. I thought of it as my story of becoming Chicana. I share it here because it well illustrates the heart of Darder’s theory of biculturalism and her efforts to create a theoretical language that could speak to the social experiences of bicultural populations, whether they are new immigrants like the parents I teach or people whose families, like mine, had third-generational roots on U.S. soil.

Growing up Chicana Growing up, I always knew that I was Mexican, or as most in my immediate world would say, I was Mexican American. I liked being Mexican; I was proud of being Mexican. When I was young, my sister Denise told me 183

that being Mexican meant we were part Indian and part Spanish but that our family was from Mexico, not Spain, and that we descended from Apaches. I felt cool being Apache, with my long black hair and my beak nose. My nose was inherited from my grandma Ramona and my mom, Amelia (a.k.a., Molly). Our beak noses were small, not like the nose of my grandpa Arnulfo, who had a giant hooked beak nose; his skin was darker too, which made him look unquestionably indigenous. As a kid, I felt I had a wild side, untamed like the Indian women in those old cowboy movies. My childish notions, as I discovered later, were immature and naïvely romantic. Yet, this physical difference actually supported my self-esteem, making me feel somehow more confident around the white kids. Secretly, I bolstered myself by thinking: Watch out—here comes the Apache girl! Another memory, as a small girl in the ‘60s, was hearing and seeing people in the community organizing for human rights. My Uncle Arthur (Arturo) was, for a while, a member of the brown berets. I still can recall that he wore all brown, with a patch on his pants that read: Chicano Power! and Que Viva la Raza! Unfortunately, Que Viva la Raza! was one of the few Spanish expressions I could understand. By the time I was born, almost everyone in my family was bilingual, yet most spoke English as their primary language. In many ways, they lived a dualistic existence. Out of the house, they tried to blend in and unconsciously assimilated, but in the home they would speak some Spanish with other family members and friends. For example, my mom would help me speak with my grandparents. I remember thinking they were hard of hearing and I would lean into them to speak louder and slowly so they would understand me. They usually just found my antics humorous. So, in this environment, I never thought much about not knowing Spanish. This never made me feel any less Mexican, because everyone around me spoke English. When I first went to college, I had to fill out forms and check off my ethnic group and race. But there wasn’t a category for brown when it came to race and there wasn’t a category for Mexican, only Hispanic. Each time I had to answer these types of questions on college forms, I would stumble over the questions, leaving me to wonder: “Why isn’t there a space for me? What the hell is wrong with being Mexican and brown?” Something felt wrong as the idyllic fantasy of my childhood faded and I became aware of the labels and terms that people outside our community used to describe people like me. Wetbacks, Beaners, Coconuts, Hispanics, Illegals, Lazy Mexicans. But none of these coincided with what I knew being Mexican meant in my world. To say the least I was frustrated! It wasn’t until I finally found myself, out of curiosity, in a Chicano studies course that I finally began to understand that Chicano was a political term for radicals in our community who struggled to recover Aztlan. But at the time, I didn’t think of myself as radical, and so therefore I must not be Chicana. But I enjoyed the classes and usually I simply went along. It was difficult for me to fully understand at the time the depth and impact of the “Americanization process,” the indoctrination of my family, and consequently how I saw myself. In class, my professor, with a great deal of passion would say to us: “Don’t ever forget where you come from! No one else on this campus will tell you to look back, only ahead.” I must confess that at the time, I thought the teacher was a bit crazed and had some individual political notion. Words were scribbled on the chalkboard: Gramsci, critical mass, hegemony, Marxism, pedagogy. I only remember thinking, “How am I going to get through the test? How am I going to remember all those strange words? And, oh yeah, what am I going to wear to the dance tonight?” When I think back, I was in such a state of alienation and dichotomy, naïve and more concerned with how I was fitting into the mainstream pop culture than with trying to understand or grapple on any critical level with why I was so uprooted from my primary culture.

Becoming Bicultural After I graduated from college and began my work as an early childhood educator, I began to feel more curious about issues of diversity and in particular about myself as a Mexican. There was so much talk about diversity and multiculturalism everywhere, and I wanted to try to understand just what it all meant. So I would attend workshops and conferences to learn about what was current in the field, but I felt frustrated when I began to experience the issue of diversity treated with a sort of tokenism and paternalism. In particular, I was frustrated that, despite all the celebrating of diversity, Latinos and other folks of color were still described as having deficits—deficits in culture, language, class, intelligence, capabilities. It would make me feel like yelling across the room, “I’m not a deficit. Hey, look at me, I am a Mexican too!” To which some responded, confused, 184

because they didn’t see Caron the Mexican: “No, not you!” Or, “You’re not like the rest of them.” Then one day, while attending another conference, I scanned the brochure again, looking under the multicultural and bilingual section, and there it was, a workshop focused on bicultural development. “What?” The description spoke about a process of bicultural development, about growing up within two cultures. The conference was at a small community college; the room was typical, gray, damp, cool, hard desks, and a dusty chalkboard. But the presenter was different, dressed with Latina flair—a tight gray skirt, a classic black Mexican leather belt, silver bracelets, silver hoop earrings, dark curly hair and bright red lipstick. Antonia Darder was the presenter that day, and her passion, knowledge, and spirit inspired me to rethink how I saw myself and the world. As she spoke and scribbled on the board, I felt a part of me awakened. A part of me that had been dormant for years was now given a place to speak, to have voice! Darder’s concepts of biculturalism, bicultural development, and the bicultural voice helped me to put words to how I experienced my life. In the company of these ideas, many expressed in this book, I felt like a more complete human being, and my life was forever changed. All the distortions, confusions, and struggles I had experienced for so long, trying to make sense of the world, could now be engaged with legitimacy and meaning. As my understanding of bicultural development— in myself, the children, and their parents—grew, I felt a greater sense of personal equilibrium. I had a language and theory that helped to explain what most of my life I could only vaguely sense within me. As I worked with parents, I also saw them discover this sense of place when we looked at their stories together, with respect to this question of bicultural development. I also saw their struggles to raise their children within a society that was so different from the one they had known as children. Through our work together, they and I found a renewed way to understand our fears and to frame the vagueness and confusion that so often disempowers us in an effort to struggle for justice in schools and in the world.

The Power of a Critical Bicultural Pedagogy A critical bicultural pedagogy has first and foremost provided me clarity with respect to my own identity as a bicultural woman. From studying and practicing these concepts in my classroom, I’ve learned to teach with greater social consciousness, because I’ve learned to respect my life and my own struggles. In embracing more of my history and culture as a third-generation Chicana and learning to speak Spanish, I have gained a greater sense of confidence in myself and a greater sense of appreciation for the struggles of immigrant parents as they endeavor to learn English. Through this pedagogical process, I have also learned to teach from the heart, to reach out to children and their parents with honesty and respect. Incorporating cultural democracy in my classroom—by creating a space where all present can participate in reflection, dialogue, and action collectively —has guided me in creating a context for greater empowerment and self-determination. The ability to connect the concepts of biculturalism with a critical pedagogy of parent education has allowed me to connect with parents as co-learners in the process, in ways that are engaging, respectful, gentle, curious, and also fun! With this said, it is not unusual that parents discuss freely a variety of topics tied to bicultural development. These discussions surface with ease because they represent the real lived experiences of the parents, most of whom are immigrants and whose children are growing up bicultural. Pivotal to our discussions and our time together, of course, is the issue of language. Most of the parents come to school to learn how to speak English and how to help their children succeed. Even when they learn English, they will speak it with an accent and their English will sound different from that of their children’s. The parents see their families trying to negotiate different stages of biculturalism—sometimes the experiences point to greater separatism; other times, dualism; and often they express fears that their children will lose their way and become completely alienated from them. As would be expected, then, some unique family stories surface. The children may not want to go back to their country of origin; or children may not want to speak to their grandparents in Spanish anymore; or they might begin to mock or question cultural norms and practices that parents hold dear; or the children may express being ashamed of their parents when they visit the school or try to speak English. The possibilities for bicultural conflicts are endless. At times, families understand and resolve the conflicts, whereas at other times they grapple with what seem to be irreconcilable conflicts. Often unsure of what to do, they bring their concerns to the class, where their stories and concerns are central to the learning process. Throughout my years of practice with parents, the most important thing I have come to understand—as 185

Paulo Freire attested before, as does Antonia Darder in this book—a critical bicultural pedagogy requires that our work with bicultural parents be founded on a deep faith, love, and trust in students’ ability to know, develop consciousness, and build solidarity with one another. This is most likely to occur when parents genuinely feel respected as valuable and capable human beings. And for me, this is paramount, because I want to see their children grow up knowing that everyone has a story and everyone has something to say!


"Better Together" Making Critical Bicultural Connections Laura McAlister, Early Childhood Teacher and Administrator I’ve worked in different areas of education for the past thirty years. As a student teacher in Richmond, California; a preschool and kindergarten teacher; a college professor; a child care director; and currently as the co-executive director of Sound Child Care Solutions, a nonprofit consortium of quality centers in the Northwest. The mission of our organization is to educate children for life, by integrating child-centered, highquality, antibiased, early childhood education with excellent business practices. We work to be an antibias organization. Our goal is to help transform the nature of child care in this country, particularly with respect to equity. Our tag line, “Better Together,” refers to the philosophy we strive to live out in our everyday practice. This is especially important given that in our community, small nonprofit schools are limited in their access to resources. Our purpose, then, is to work toward transforming the structure and values of institutions that, overtly or covertly, continue to support ethnocentric values that result in policies and practices of inequalities— values upon which the United States was first founded, despite the national rhetoric of “justice for all.” But as one might imagine, this is a very tough job. Most young children in the United States today are cared for outside of the home. This change has created a huge shift from the way families raised children in the past. A disproportionate number of bicultural children are in center care, most having access to only the lowest quality child care. According to Adams, Zaslow, and Tout (2007), In 2005, over 7 million children under age 5 in the United States were in non-parental care or education programs (U.S. Census Bureau, 2008). Despite this widespread use of center based care and education, many programs are not of sufficient quality to support children’s healthy development. Specifically, large-scale studies in differing geographic regions suggest that much of the care in the United States falls below a rating of “good” on widely used observational measures, and that 10 to 20 percent of child care settings have overall ratings of quality low enough to be potentially harmful to children’s development. (Adams, Zaslow, & Tout, 2007)

Hence, to address the growing need for child care in this society, an industry in the educational field has grown to accommodate the shifting realities of family life. As one might imagine, building and growing an organization with a critical bicultural approach is both exciting and terrifying. There are no established templates to follow and few mentors to lead the way. So, we are inventing Sound Child Care Solutions as we go along, trailblazing. More often than not, the issues we contend with among the staff, with teachers, or in the classroom are related to culture and power—every grant application, every organizational issue, every educational programming decision, every aspect of everything we do with more than eighty-two teachers and the 320 children who are attached to the centers. For example, conflicts between the dominant organizational culture and the home culture are some of the toughest issues we face. The structure of meetings can also interfere with contending with interpersonal needs within the organization. When we talk about race and racism, our notions of hierarchy and authority can get in the way and prevent us from entering into truly open dialogues, especially when people are coming from different cultural and racial perspectives or are at very different places in their understanding of inequities. Aware of the conflicts that can surface when working with bicultural children and their parents, our organization invests heavily in the continuous development of staff and teachers. Everyone is expected to attend a professional development program focused on “undoing institutional racism,” provided by the People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond.5 To bring the principles of antibias work to our practice, we hold monthly dialogues about race and class in our central office staff and in our child care centers. We have mandatory inservice training using the concepts of bicultural development as formulated by Antonia Darder in this text to prepare teachers to work more effectively with children and families, as well as with one another. We examine together issues raised by teachers or staff and consider how these are being played out in the communities we 187

serve. We also work offer assistance to public agencies that seek to improve their outcomes with bicultural children and teachers of color. We are members of the Black Child Development Institute, and some of us study Spanish to increase our ability to communicate with bilingual teachers, children, and parents. We attend child care and early childhood education rallies; we support alliances; we hire, train, supervise, paint, and get the work done in whatever way is needed. More importantly, the organization has merged with several strong child care centers that have been doing good work for decades, as well as built new programs in communities where there were none. Pedagogically, we utilize the dual language approach (as discussed by Sharon Cronin in this book) to create a balanced bilingual environment for children as they become ready to enter kindergarten. Given the multicultural populations we serve, we have teachers who teach in Spanish, Somali, and Vietnamese, as well as English. All of these aspects of the work are vitally necessary, in that any effort to transform the conditions for bicultural children in child care programs requires a fully integrated approach. Moreover, as a white woman working in this field, I would not consider carrying out this work without striving to engage pedagogical issues that are linked to bicultural development—issues that are important to the future academic success of the children we serve. Similarly, questions of cultural democracy and the institutional dynamics of social oppression are also central to my work. Many of us white folks (how I choose to identify myself) are socialized to expect others to assimilate. We often enact this dynamic unconsciously because of our unexamined assumptions related to power and privilege, based on our skin color. Moreover, we expect people of color to willingly (or unwillingly) participate in our mainstream view of the world. When folks of color do so, simply to survive and progress, we easily dismiss our ethnocentrism. It is for this reason that, as early childhood educators, I believe it is our responsibility to grapple with current policies and practices and take action, as advocates of children and families, in order to change an educational system that perpetuates racism and other inequalities within schools and society. To do otherwise is tantamount to utilizing our privilege to oppress others.

Reflections on Commitment The commitment I made to children when I first entered teaching—to do everything in my power to ensure that all children have the opportunity to live out their full potential, as both individuals and as members of their communities, persists in my life today. My commitment to social justice evolved directly from my lived experiences as a white working-class woman who grew up in a predominantly Latino neighborhood in Los Angeles. I was the first person on both sides of my family to attend college. Growing up as a white woman in that community, I had the unique opportunity to experience a number of situations that I later learned were not common to my white peers. My family was involved in social justice movements in the early 1960s, mostly related to our own experiences with poverty, prison, and drug abuse. We were also homeless for a period of time. Also, all my grandparents were in biracial relationships in the 1930s and suffered economic, legal, and social consequences. My family, though identified as white by the time I was born, was extremely liberal and welcomed the civil rights movement of the 1960s. As a child, I danced naked with Hari Krishnas in Griffith Park and attended street protests in my stroller. I visited my mother in prison. Over time, I came to learn that the civil rights movement created opportunities for white women—some would say that white women actually gained more from the movement than folks of color, who suffered the greatest indignities. My studies in bicultural development and antibias curriculum (Derman-Sparks & ABC Task Force, 1989) helped me to gain a better grasp on the experiences of both my peers and myself as white woman. Confronting issues of white privilege as defined by Peggy McIntosh (1988) was significant to my development as a teacher, particularly as a teacher working with bicultural children and their parents. But from my work, I also came to understand differences beyond only those of language that existed between me, as a member of the dominant culture, and those who came from radicalized communities. At different moments in my life, I was pushed to contend with the manner in which racism and class inequalities worked similarly and differently for poor white students. For example, as a student at the University of California at Berkeley, I did not do well, given that the poor inner-city school I attended had not prepared me for the rigor and expectations of the university. I went from being an excellent student at my high school in the barrio to being on academic probation in my first quarter. Although I attended remedial English 188

and math courses and managed to survive, I knew that many of my Latino and Black counterparts were not so fortunate. As I developed my understanding of racism in education, I began to understand that, often, low expectations, stereotypes, and false assumptions about the abilities of bicultural students inadvertently thwart their academic progress. While working for the Affirmative Action Administration as a student, I coordinated a peer program helping other Equal opportunity students facing expulsion. I was trained in monitoring employment practices for the largest student-housing cooperative in the country. Yet, I found it shocking to hear what white people said when the doors were shut and no people of color were around. It wasn’t just the stereotypical jokes, but also the fear, resentment, and need to hold onto power and privilege, at any cost. Even if we claim to see the unfairness, we still, consciously or unconsciously, want to hold onto the money and power that privilege gives us. We want to protect what we have been taught to believe is ours and to get more of it for our own children. Sadly, these same attitudes are at work in the arena of early childhood education.

Critical Bicultural Pedagogy at Work at Sound Child Care Solutions Whether with children, parents, teachers, or community members, we promote a culture of connection. We are invested in building a whole new way of creative quality child care, and we share what we are learning with others. We have monthly gatherings opened to people outside of our organization to come together informally for dialogue. We try to stay on top of news and events and research on early learning, teacher development, and worthy wages. Darder’s work consistently supports the idea that we must be at once critical educators and social change agents within the larger society. Hence, we attend rallies together for immigration reform and educational and health reform. We lobby in olympia and establish alliances with other organizations that also share the goal of eradicating racism and rooting out injustices. We create partnerships with Solid Ground, Southwest Youth and Family Services, the City of Seattle, Seattle Public schools, Child Care Resources, El Centro de la Raza, and other community organizations. Some of these activities we do because it helps us create resources for low-income communities, and others we do simply because it is the right thing to do—it nourishes the soul of our community and keeps us all ever present in the ongoing struggle to better the quality of life for bicultural children and their families. To teach critically means to embrace a culturally democratic way of life that supports a place for all children and their families to grow and learn. Here, I offer three examples of our bicultural praxis, although Darder’s ideas are also integrated in the way we contend with issues of the curriculum, assessment, standards, distribution of resources, employment practices, and organizational growth. In this work, we are never “done,” but rather strive daily to engage organically with everything we do. Such a paradigm shift is a journey, not a destination, and as Paulo Freire encourages us to do, we are always beginning anew (Darder, 2002). With this in mind, the following are three examples of how we strive to live this pedagogy in our programs.

Teacher Development We prepare teachers who are ethnically, culturally, and linguistically in sync with our school population. We actively recruit from communities from which we do not have a large teacher pool. We pay a living wage for our city, offer benefits, and work daily to improve the quality of life for our teachers. We have sought scholarships for teachers to attain their advanced degrees and put time in our budgets to pay for them to study. We provide coaching and time to assist teachers in making sense of what they are learning in their coursework and to implement it in their classrooms, utilizing a bicultural lens. We have discussions and workshops where we intentionally work on the critical principles related to bicultural development, and linguistically and culturally relevant teaching activities. We create time for teachers to participate in dialogue about what they are learning. w e hold monthly “pocket” gatherings across the organization, where we talk about issues tied to race, class, and gender. We use the term pocket because we want to keep these issues always in our top shirt pockets. These happen in each center, but also at the central office of our organization. We work to review our policies and procedures through the lens of an antiracist organization and a critical bicultural pedagogy. We are careful with classroom 189

evaluations and teacher and child assessments, to make sure they are relevant to the needs of a bicultural community. We advocated for and send teachers and staff to assessment workshops, to ensure a cultural match with the children and classrooms where assessment takes place. We refuse to be evaluated on Eid (an important Muslim holiday) in a classroom with Somali teachers and children. We have learned not to step between Mecca and a person offering prayers. And we teach these lessons to one another, that we might together work to better our relationships with all the communities we serve. We also participate in a group called Liderazgo Latino, where the goal is to create a pool of Latino educational leaders whose native language is Spanish. We have volunteers from a reading program who are prepared in the same way we prepare teachers, and we select books and languages that are specifically targeted to our populations. Recently, we held a family literacy event using the book Caps for Sale in eight different languages. In a room full of families and children, food and good times, at the end one child yelled, “Read it again!” and there was a universal chuckle from Latino, African American, Somali, Cambodian, Filipino, Chinese, Anglo (German-, Czech-, and English-speaking) parents. We knew, as a group, as a diverse community, that this is truly a place where bicultural children can thrive.

Work with Families We make sure that teachers are from similar ethnic and linguistic backgrounds as the families they serve in their classrooms. We are careful in how we think about time in relation to our populations. We have “tea parties” rather than parent orientations. It is friendlier and more welcoming. We always have food and music, and always have enough. We focus on the trust and relationships necessary to build within the communities. We know events and meetings will start and end in less than timely ways, and plan accordingly. Communication is translated in up to four languages, or people are available to assist with translation. We don’t rely just on emails or written signs for parent communication, but instead speak individually with families. We often must be involved in lots of conversations with many different family members when we want to make sure to communicate accurately and effectively. We seek this level of communication, which means working to fund a budget that allows us the time and staff this requires. We wholeheartedly believe that it is our responsibility to communicate “with” not “to” families. We do not expect older siblings to act as interpreters, and for this reason we provide appropriate interpreters for parents at all meetings. We hire, train, and promote a staff who can speak the home languages of the families served, in order to facilitate and ensure effective relationships with parents.

The Classroom Environment We use a dual language approach in nine of our twenty classrooms. We believe that all families deserve appropriate learning environments that are both culturally and linguistically relevant to the needs of the children we teach. Children “live” in these spaces, and so we use cutting-edge design. Our environments are pristine, yet created on a tiny budget with lots of community participation and volunteer labor. Our classrooms are lovely places, developmentally and aesthetically appropriate for the cultural communities we serve. True to a critical bicultural pedagogy, our philosophy is about learning with children rather than teaching to children. We pay close attention to not only providing culturally specific items and books but also to integrating deeper and more meaningful ways of engaging children, teachers, and families. Teachers make decisions about culturally appropriate items for their classrooms. Some put cactus and aloe vera plants in classrooms with Spanish-speaking children, whereas others might put bamboo and palm plants in the classroom where children speak Vietnamese. We do this to honor the families and communities. We include headscarves in the “housekeeping” area, where children do dramatic play. We use colors that feel familiar to children and families, who often say to us that “something about this place reminds me of home.” We use rattan baskets for their scent; familiar monkey pod bowls, rugs for the texture. We offer ever-changing menus that include foods that our children and parents recognize. We try to use whole foods, organic and locally purchased, as much as possible. We provide plenty of food, knowing that some children receive up to 80 percent of their nutritional sustenance at the center because of the difficult economic conditions of their families. We put smallish, adult190

size couches in the learning environment because we want parents to stay, or have a place to be comfortable with younger siblings. At the heart of a critical bicultural pedagogy is a deep faith in children, families, and communities. In sync with this important principle, we believe in the children we teach. Parents sense it by the respectful manner in which teachers treat their children; they see it when the beautiful pictures of their children are displayed prominently. Many of the things we do simply require us to be attentive to those things which are meaningful to children and parents, like remembering the year of the Tiger by putting a basket of orange tiger balls in a parent welcome area, or teaching the children activities to celebrate the Day of the Dead. A critical bicultural approach clearly stems from a core value of living authentic relation-ships—liberating relationships that can only be built upon an ever-evolving praxis of cultural democracy in our classrooms and in our world.


Epilogue1 Paulo Freire ANTONIA DARDER’S CULTURE AND POWER IN THE CLASSROOM PRESENTS A PASSIONATE analysis of the pedagogical dimension of culture, particularly when she critically describes cultural experiences or the experiences of cultural subjects within a xenophobic context that too often treats difference with disrespect. Her book makes us confront the experience of cultural subjects that are not allowed to live a fully multicultural life in a society that is, by definition and makeup, multicultural. I say this with much conviction; I fear that most of these cultural subjects are living only a form of multicultural formality and not a substantive multicultural existence —to the extent that the U.S. cultural hegemony systematically relegates all forms of multicultural expression considered outside of the so-called “common culture” to the margins. Darder describes the cultural experience of the “other,” which also constitutes her own personal narrative, because she herself is a living testimony of cultural subjugation in a society that purports to be the model democracy. Her book provides us with important theoretical tools with which to deconstruct the colonial educational practice within the larger context of culture. By analyzing the structures of cultural dominance within the ever more present cultural hegemonic forces that now characterize the U.S. educational landscape, Darder unveils the very methods, practices, and raison d’être of the colonialist educational ideology.




Chapter 1 1. As noted in the Author’s Preface, the term bicultural is utilized here instead of minority, specifically to designate students who identify themselves as black, Latino, Chicano, Asian, Filipino, Native American Indian, Arab, and so forth. 2. See 3. According to Education Trust’s report, “Big Gaps, Small Gaps: Some Colleges and Universities Do Better Than others in Graduating African-American Students” and “Big Gaps, Small Gaps: Some Colleges and Universities Do Better Than others in Graduating Hispanic Students,” of the 57 percent of all students completing bachelor degrees within six years, the graduation rates for different groups of students vary significantly. Nationally, 60 percent of whites but only 49 percent of Latinos and 40 percent of African Americans who start college earn bachelor degrees six years later, according to the data. 4. See 5. See 6. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, the overall poverty rate climbed to 14.3 percent, or 43.6 million people, leaving 1 in 7 people Americans living in poverty. Poverty rose in all race and ethnic groups, but stood at higher levels for blacks and Hispanics. The number of Latinos in poverty increased from 23.2 percent to 25.3 percent; for blacks it increased from 24.7 percent to 25.8 percent. The number of whites in poverty










Low&HBx_PK=poverty_level_2010&utm_source=Google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_term=poverty%2Blevel%2B2010&utm_campaign=G_Money&360cid=SI_173411 7. The Social Stratification in the United States’s American Profile Poster, published by The New Press in 2007, indicates that data on economic distribution of wealth in the United States demonstrates the following: The wealthiest 1 percent of the population accounts for more than 33 percent of the nation’s wealth; the top 10 percent holds 71 percent of the wealth; the top 20 percent of the population holds 85 percent of the all the wealth in the country; the next 40 percent owns 15 percent of the wealth; and a full 40 percent has virtually zero net worth (p. 34). This means that only 15 percent of the wealth is distributed among 80 percent of the population. Most of the bicultural population is found in the bottom stratum of the 80 percent figure. Rose (2007) states, “while inequality has always existed, it has become worse since 1973 (p. 27) . . . Blacks and Latinos suffer disproportionately from poor living conditions, low-paying employment with frequent intervals of unemployment, and a troubled public school system” (p. 22). over the last twenty years, the biggest change has been movement up by 5 percent of those who previously were in the upper-middle range of the chart and some “trickling down” from the top 1 percent across the top 10 percent. The lowest stratum of the population, however, has remained grossly impoverished. The data to construct the poster was derived from the March 2005 annual U.S. Census survey. 8. See “Manhattan’s Elite Competition to Place their Children in the Best Nursery Schools,” and “Cracking the Kindergarten Code” in New York Magazine, November 20, 2005, 9. For an important and insightful discussion of the politics of colonization and knowledge construction, see Red Pedagogy by Sandy Grande (2004). 10. It is important to note that Giroux (1981) is not referring to a particular philosophy of positivism, of which there are many complex, historically constructed strands. Instead, what he is referring to here is a culture of positivism as a constellation of ideological assumptions that supports a technocratic view of the world. 11. For one of the most complete and incisive discussions of the history of intelligence testing and its impact on bicultural children, see R. Valencia and L. Suzuki, Intelligence Testing and Minority Students: Foundations, Performance Factors and Assessment Issues, Thousand oaks, CA: Sage, 2001. 12. In any discussion relating to the self-concept and/or self-esteem of bicultural students, it is significant to note that a number of studies exist (Gay, 2010; Valentine, 1971; McAdoo, 1977; Cross, 1978; Porter & Washington, 1979) that strongly challenge the validity of the essentially monocultural criteria utilized in earlier studies to assess the self-concept/self-esteem of bicultural children. Although most of the major work in the field has focused on Black children, there is sufficient indication that assessment of self-concept/self-esteem in other bicultural children would also yield similar results under similar conditions. Also worth noting is the need for critical research with subordinate cultural groups that would specifically examine the differences in self-concept and/or self-esteem among bicultural individuals as they move back and forth from primary cultural environments (e.g., home, church, cultural events, etc.) to monocultural


(Anglo) institutional environments (e.g., schools, government offices, occupational and professional settings, etc.).


Chapter 2 1. See Robert William’s (1975) Ebonics: The True Language of Black Folks and Ernie Smith’s (1998) discussion of “what Is Black English? what Is Ebonics?” in Theresa Perry’s The Real Ebonics Debate, for an incisive discussion of language within African American communities. 2. For a discussion concerning the effects of language domination on colonized native populations, see The Colonizer and the Colonized (Memmi, 1965, pp. 104–111). 3. Kwame Ture was formerly known as Stokely Carmichael. 4. Although women of color in the United States must indeed deal with the issue of sexism and its impact on their lives, due to the limited focus of this project, it will not be dealt with directly in this book. For excellent discussion of this issue with relationship to women, see Teaching for Change (Weiler, 1985), Feminist Theory from Margin to Center (hooks, 2000b), and Feminism Is for Everybody (hooks, 2000), and Feminisms and Critical Pedagogy (Luke & Gore, 1999). 5. The lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and transsexual individuals are subjected to institutional forms of control and regulation within the context of their schooling. For an important and thoughtful treatment of this question, see Disrupting the Subject of Sex: Sexuality and Public School Controversies (Mayo, 2007) and Troubling Intersections of Race and Sexualities: Queer Students of Color and Anti-oppressive Education (Kumashiro, 2001). 6. For an incisive interrogation of critical theories of disability, space, and embodiment, within a historical context of contemporary scenarios of disability, see Geographies of Disabilities (Gleesen, 1998). For texts that engage questions of disabilities within the classroom, see Everybody Belongs: Changing Negative Attitudes toward Classmate with Disabilities (Shapiro, Kincheloe, & Steinberg, 2000); Widening the Circle: the Power of Inclusive (Sapon-Shevin, 2007). 7. An excellent historical account on the development of Black caricature in the United States is found in the film Ethnic Notions, by Marlin Riggs (California Newsreel, 1987) and in Ethnic Notions: Black Images in the White Mind, published by Berkeley Art Center and based on Janette Faulkner’s collection of artifacts that was the inspiration for the project. 8. For an excellent post on this issue, see “The Tea Party and Race in America” by Noura Erakat, 9. A historical documentation of the impact of racism on social science theories is found in The Mismeasure of Man (Gould, 1981).


Chapter 3 1. Ramirez and Castañeda have included in their text Cultural Democracy: Bicognitive Development and Education (1974) an “Appendix C: Field-Sensitive-Independent Behavioral observation Instruments: Child and Teacher,” which includes field cognitive assessment tools for use in teacher and student evaluations. The primary purpose of these instruments is to assist educators in determining the degree to which a child may be bicognitive and, from the results, plan a program to increase the child’s cognitive flexibility. 2. Nearly twenty years after I first proposed this critical theory of biculturalism, Swiss scholar Françios Grosjean (2010), in his book Bilingualism: Life and Reality, posits a more traditional reading of biculturalism and describes a “situational” continuum: “At one end they are in a monocultural mode, since they are monocultural or with biculturals with whom they share only one culture. In this situation they must deactivate as they best can their other cultures. At the other end of the continuum they are with other biculturals who share their culture. With them, they will use a base culture to interact in (the behaviors, attitudes of one culture) and bring in the other culture, in the form of cultural switches and borrowings, when they choose to.” It is interesting to note that despite the fact that the first edition of Culture and Power in the Classroom is one of the first texts on the Amazon site that surfaces when the term bicultural is used, and that Grosjean refers to other U.S. authors who have written about the subject, he seems to sidestep all references to scholars who engage more deliberately with the political implications of subordinate-dominant relations of power. Also interesting is that the book is published by Harvard University Press. I say this because a graduate student at Harvard was explicitly told to delete all references to my work on biculturalism if she had any hopes of having her dissertation proposal accepted. Certainly these are not related events, but rather coincidental in showing us the manner in which knowledge is promoted or stifled, depending on the ideological stance of those who hold power within the particular enterprise. All this said, I believe that Grosjean makes an important contribution that might be useful to those who are attempting to understand the manner in which language and culture are always simultaneously implicated in our engagement with the world. 3. Absolute thinking for the purposes of this discussion is related to a view of a social reality as a totality or whole. This mode of engagement with the world is clearly sustained by the ideological tenets of identity thinking. The Frankfurt School has addressed this notion of identity thinking in its work related to culture. A discussion of the Frankfurt School’s views on this theme can be found in “Materialism and Metaphysics,” in Critical Theory: Selected Essays (Horkheimer, 1972); The Dialectical Imagination (Jay, 1973); and Introduction to Critical Theory (Held, 1980. 4. For an excellent investigation into the definition, historical nature, and principal ideas related to the nature of democracy, see Democracy by Anthony Arblaster (1987). 5. Funds of knowledge is defined by researchers Luis Moll, Cathy Amanti, Deborah Neff, and Norma Gonzalez (2001) “to refer to the historically accumulated and culturally developed bodies of knowledge and skills essential for household or individual functioning and well-being” (p. 133).


Chapter 4 1. Again I want to point readers to Richard Valencia and Linda Suzuki’s (2001) seminal work in the field, Intelligence Testing and Minority Students: Foundations, Performance Factors, and Assessment Issues. 2. Concepts related to brain development are drawn from the writings of Joe Dispenza (2007), Evolve the Brain. I also want to recognize my colleague Sharon Tettegah at the National Science Foundation, who is exploring the field of neuroscience with respect to what it can tell us about questions of emapthy and other teachers’ responses related to students of color. 3. For an important and insightful discussion of this issue, see Critical Neurophilosophy and Indigenous Wisdom (Four Arrows, Cajete, & Lee, 2009). This book begins a long overdue dialogue between western neuropsychology and indigenous wisdom. The latter holds that technology, including that which supports the neurosciences, is an important aspect of humanity, but that without a deeper understanding of the sacred, natural world, its consequences will continue to disrupt the balance of life on Earth. The authors argue that without incorporating Indigenous wisdom into theories relating to brain research and scientific assumptions about human nature, humanity may never learn how to avoid this problem. After summarizing current studies about such important topics as generosity, truthfulness, courage, humor, art, spirituality, and lateralization, two indigenous scholars and a South Korean neuroscientist discuss the research conclusions. In most cases, the ancient knowledge of indigenous peoples reveals significantly contrasting perspectives. By offering students of neuropsychology and the various schools of neurophilosophy radically different views from those seen through the lens of Western science, the book helps assure that understandings about the human brain may lead to a more healthy balance in human affairs. 4. See Fostering Effective Instructional Strategies on the Teach Safe Schools website, 5. Ibid. 6. For insightful discussions of the question of empathy in the classroom, see “Preservice Teachers’ Empathy and Cognition” by Tettegah and Anderson (2007); “Empathy among Black youth: Simulating Race-Related Aggression in the Classroom” by Tettegah and Neville (2007); and Hoffman’s (2000) Empathy and Moral Development: Implications for Caring and Justice.


Chapter 5 1. For a more substantive introduction to critical pedagogy and its foundations, see The Critical Pedagogy Reader (Darder, Baldodano, & Torres 2002/2009); Critical Pedagogy Primer (Kincheloe, 2008a); Life in Schools: An Introduction to the Foundations of Critical Pedagogy (McLaren, 1989/1998); Critical Pedagogy: Notes from the Real World (Wink, 2010). 2. over the last twenty years, there has been a third wave of critical pedagogy scholarship from theorists who branched out and brought diverse interpretations to contemporary notions of a critical pedagogy (Macedo, 1987; Shor, 1987, 1992; hooks, 1994, 2009; Weiler, 1985; Fine,1991; Luke & Gore, 1992; Daspit & Weaver, 2000; Denzin, 2003; Trifonas, 2002; Wink, 2010; Christensen, 2000; Leistyna, 1999; Grande, 2004; Kincheloe, 1995, 2008a, 2008b; Monchinski, 2008; Steinberg, 2009, 2010; Kanpol, 1999; Bigelow, 2006; Mayo, 2004; Kahn, 2010; Hinchey, 2006; Bartolomé, 2007; Duncan-Andrade & Morrell, 2008; Au, 2009; Carr, 2010). 3. For an excellent introduction to the historical and philosophical roots of dialectical theory, see The Emergence of Dialectical Theory (Warren, 1984).


Chapter 6 1. See o’Neill, M. (2010), “Talk of Fairness Is Hollow without Material Equality,” The Guardian (Tuesday, october 12), 2. See “Ethnic Imbalances Persist in Gifted Programs,” by K. McCrimmon and N. Mitchell (2010) in Education News, 3.














(2011), 4. The panel also created what they called a “Diversity Within Unity Principles Checklist,” which includes questions informed by each principle. The checklist appears at the back of the 2001 report by Banks et al., Diversity Within Unity: Essential Principles of Teaching and Learning in a Multicultural Society. See 5. Carol Brunson Day (formerly Carol Phillips) is Former Executive Director of the National Association for the Education of young Children. She is currently CEo & President of the National Black Child Development Institute. 6. Rethinking Schools, established in 1986, is a phenomenal resource for critical educators. The publication is “firmly committed to equity and to the vision that public education is central to the creation of a humane, caring, multiracial democracy. writing for a broad audience, Rethinking Schools emphasizes problems facing urban schools, particularly issues of race.” The publication especially encourages teachers to submit articles that engage issues tied to their everyday practice in the classroom. See .shtml. 7. The concept of teachers as researchers has a long history that incorporates the concept of participatory research, with a clear emphasis on the critical identification of an actual problem/ issue, and a move to learn and better understand the issue/problem, in order to collectively transform it. Moreover, the idea of “teachers as researchers” recognizes teachers as intellectuals and central to the process of transforming schooling. For a very useful critical discussion on the issue, see Teachers as Researchers: Qualitative Inquiry as a Path to Empowerment by Joe Kincheloe (2003).


Chapter 7 1. See 2. See 3. See J. Taylor, “California’s Proposition 21: A Case of Juvenile Injustice,” Southern California Law Review 57 (2002): 983–1019,, for a discussion of the negative legal repercussions of the initiative; and also Louise Cooper’s overview, “youth Confront California’s Prop 21,” Solidarity website, available at 4. Source: U.S. Department of Education. 5. The People’s Institute teaches that it is each individual’s responsibility to dismantle the legacy of technical assistance to communities and organizations, and they teach basic skills in effective community organizing, leadership development, coalition building, fundraising, and public relations skills.


Epilogue 1. This epilogue is the original preface Paulo Freire wrote in 1991 for the first edition of Culture and Power in the Classroom.


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Index Absolute thinking, 53, 237 Achievement education value, 35 Adorno, Theodor, 29–30 Africentricity, 143 Akinyela, Makungu, 142–149 Alliance for Excellent Education, 1–2 Allman, Paula, 29, 31, 42 American pedagogy. See Traditional American pedagogy Ancestral predispositions, 72 Anti-intellectualism, 107–108 Anyon, Jean, 6 Anzaldua, Gloria, 99 Apple, Michael, 6, 21 Arblaster, Anthony, 24 Aristotle, 2 Aronowitz, Stanley, 6, 20–21 Article 13, 187 Artze, Isis, 160–161 Assessment: See also testing; bicognitive development, 49; Diversity Within Unity Essential Principles, 120; history of, 66–68; self-concept/selfesteem, 236 Atraditional individuals, 48 Attention, power of, 75–76 Authoritarian populism, 5 Authority: 12, 20, 32, 40, 64, 66, 90, 91, 94, 98; of experience, 63; institutional racism and, 40; question of, 109–113; scientific, 67; white educators, 64 Back-to-basics education, 19–20 Banking education, 8, 80, 111–112, 190 Banks, James, 119 Behavioral objectives, 20 Beings of praxis, 88, 201 Bennett, William, 3 Bicognitive development concept, 49 Bicultural affirmation, 52 Bicultural dialogue, 62–64 Bicultural educators, 125–126 Bicultural identity, xix, 45, 49, 56 Bicultural mirror, 63, 202 Bicultural students: See also Traditional American pedagogy; dropout rates, 1–2; hierarchical socialization, 6–7; IQ scores, 14; underachievement, 2–4 Bicultural voice: 44, 55, 61, 106, 120, 123, 126; awakening of, 62-64, 74, 101 Biculturalism, xi, 45–55 Biesiendinski, Vivian, 152 Bilingualism: Life and Reality (Grosjean), 237 Binet, Alfred, 66–67 Biracial identity, 53 Bissell, Patricia, 110–111 Black Families in Therapy (Boyd-Franklin), 142 Blauner, Robert, 38 Bootstrap mentality, 117


Bowers, C.A., 100 Bowles, Samuel, 6 Boyd-Franklin, Nancy, 142 Brain, 70–76; genetic and cultural predispositions, 73–74; making new synaptic connections, 74–75; overview, 70–73; power of attention and experience, 75–76 Brosio, Richard, 6 Cadiero-Kaplan, Karen, 191–198 California Community College Association (CCA), 217 California Faculty Association (CFA), 217 California Teachers Association (CTA), 217 Cam Do Wong, 204–210 Capitalist ideology, 30–31 Carnoy, Martin, 6 Carr, Paul, 57–58 Castañeda, Alfredo, 44–45 CCA (California Community College Association), 217 Center for Multicultural Education, 119 CFA (California Faculty Association), 217 Childhood determinism theory, 10 Clark, Mallory, 152 Class size, limiting, 128–129 Classroom Authority and Critical Pedagogy (Bissell), 110 Coleman, James S., 2 Collective public voice, 201 The Color of Culture (Jones), 174 Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC), 196–197 Common Destiny Alliance, 119 Common sense, 31, 33, 41, 89, 89, 107, 107, 175 Concrete context, 88 Conscientization, 80, 96–97, 135, 140, 186 Consciousness: bilingual/bicultural, 52, 54, 160; colonialist, 34; contradictory, 41, 54; cultural, 73, 74; differential, 54; double consciousness, 46; emancipatory, 190; free and creative, 60; hegemonic, 37; ideology and, 30, 31; individual, 27; resistance, 41; historical, 8, 84, 86; critical, 31, 96, 112, 167, 169, 219; Marx’s theory of, 42; political, 217, 219; social, 106, 179, 186, 226; of struggle, 78; subjective, 9; transformation of, 113; transitive, 60 Conscious Parenting Family Circles, 143–144; knotting, 145–148; overview, 142–143; politics of parenting, 144–145; unknotting, 148–149 Conservative perspective: overview, 4–5; power, 110; school curriculum, 21–22; Traditional American pedagogy, 5–8 Counterhegemony, 91–94 Critical bicultural praxis: “Better Together” (essay), 227, 229–233; “Bicultural Breakthroughs that Empower our Lives” (essay), 204–210; “Bicultural Education & Issues of Culture and Power From Classroom Practice to Educational Leadership & Advocacy” (essay), 191–198; “Bicultural Education and Teacher Preparation” (essay), 210–216; “Consciousness Parenting Circles” (essay), 142–149; “Consuming Dora the Explorer” (essay), 182–191; “De Levantarse y Seguir Cayendo” (essay), 216–222; “European-American Teachers as Cultural workers” (essay), 149–157; “Everyone Has a Story/Everyone Has Something to Say” (essay), 222–227; “Influence of a Critical Bicultural Theory to Development of the Soy Bilingüe Adult Dual Language Model” (essay), 134–142; overview, 131–134; “Stop Braiding My Hair” (essay), 158–165; “Teaching Umoja” (essay), 174–181; “Transforming Practice” (essay), 165–173; “young Chicanas and the No on 21 Campaign” (essay), 199–204 Critical democracy, process of schooling and, 57–62 Critical Neurophilosophy and Indigenous Wisdom, 71, 238 Critical pedagogy, 79–102; bicultural, 101–102; epistemological concerns, 97–101; overview, 79–81; principles of, 81–97 The Critical Pedagogy Reader, 97 Critical race theory of education (CRT), 99 Critical reason, 94–95 Cronin, Sharon, 132–142 Cross-cultural teaching teams, 127


Crossing Tracks (Wheelock), 16 CRT (critical race theory of education), 99 CTA (California Teachers Association), 217 CTC (Commission on Teacher Credentialing), 196–197 Cultural alienation, 51, 137 Cultural artifacts, 117 Cultural democracy, 44–64, 103–130; authority, 109–113; bicultural dialogue, 62–64; biculturalism, 45–55; challenging racism in classroom, 120–122; critical democracy and process of schooling, 57–62; language, 105–109; multicultural curriculum, 116–120; overview, 44–45, 103–105; philosophy for bilingual classroom, 55–57; redefining fairness and equality, 113–116; teacher, 122–126, 129–130; transforming context of teaching, 126–129 Cultural deprivation model, 47 Cultural difference model, 46–47 Cultural dualism, 51, 137 Cultural hegemony, 32 Cultural negotiation, 51, 137, 220 Cultural politics, 81–83 Cultural predisposition, brain, 73–74 Cultural separatism, 51, 137 Culture and power, 24–43; cultural invasion, 34–41; dominant and subordinate cultures, 28–29; hegemony, 32–34; ideology, 29–32; overview, 24–25; power and truth, 25–28; resistance, 41–43 Culture industry, 30 Curriculum: hidden, xviii, 20, 21, 27, 62, 90, 113; multicultural, 116–120; Traditional American pedagogy, 19–23; ways in which hegemony is actualized through, 33–34 Darwin, Charles, 14 Das Institute für Sozialforschung (Institute of Social Research), 29–31 Davidson, Fran, 152 DeAnda, Diane, 47–48 Decolonizing sexual politics, 97–98 Deficit model, intelligence testing, 67 Delavan, Garrett, 18 DeLone, Richard, 10 Delpit, Lisa, 179–180 Demoralization of teachers, 128–129 Depth psychology, 31–32, 89 Descartes, René, 2 Dewey, John, 1, 44, 58–59 Dialectical theory, 85–87 Dialogue: bicultural, 62–64; conscientization and, 96–97 Directivity, 111–112 Discursive practices, 94 Dissimulation domination mode, institutional hegemonic process, 33 Distribution of wealth, U.S., 235–236 Diversity Within Unity Essential Principles, 119–120 Does Your Vote Count: Critical Pedagogy and Democracy (Carr), 57 Dominant culture, 28–29 Dora the Explorer, 184–185 Dropout statistics, 1–2 Dualistic individuals, 48 Ecological commitment, 100–101 Economics: critical pedagogy, 83; testing and, 68–69 Education for Critical Consciousness (Freire), 59–60 Education under Siege (Aronowitz and Giroux), 20–21


Education values, 34–35 Educators: authority, 109–113; culture of, 122–126; demoralization of, 128–129; development of multicultural curriculum, 117–118; Euroamerican (white), 63–64; expectations, 17–19; feminist, 97–98; frustrations of, 129–130; teacher education programs, 104, 119; teacher-proof curriculum, 19–20 Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, 67 ELL (English language learners), 185 Ellsworth, Elizabeth, 97 Empowering students, 110 English as a Second Language (ESL) instruction, 36, 185 English language learners (ELL), 185 English Men of Science: Their Nature and Nurture (Galton), 2 English only movement, 36 Episodic memories, 75–76 Epistemological concerns, critical pedagogy, 97–101; decolonizing sexual politics, 97–98; ecological commitment, 100–101; overview, 97; teaching in borderlands, 98–100 Equality, redefining, 113–116 Equity, school, 120 ESL (English as a Second Language) instruction, 36, 185 Essentialism, 99 Estrada, Judith, 182–191 Ethnic Minority Coalition, 132–133 Ethnocentrism, 37–38 Euroamerican educators: “all people are the same” belief, 38; handling racism in classroom, 121; role in development of bicultural voice, 63–64; role in establishing solidarity among culturally diverse groups, 124–125 Euroamerican values, 123 Experience, 75–76 Experiential memories, 75–76 Facilitators, Conscious Parenting Family Circles, 143–144 Fairness, redefining, 113–116 Fay, Brian, 93 Fear of theory, 108 Feminist educators, 97–98 Forester, John, 95 Foucault, Michel, 25–26 Fragmentation domination mode, institutional hegemonic process, 33 Freedom of mobility, classroom, 126 Free-form language play, 164 Freire, Paulo: Education for Critical Consciousness, 59–60; English only movement, 36; historical neglect of oppressed groups, 84; Pedagogy of the City, 111–112; Pedagogy of the Heart, 197; Pedagogy of the Oppressed, 8, 75–76, 191; Teachers as Cultural Workers, 131; Teachers as Cultural Workers; Letters to Those Who Dare Teach, 149 Freud, Sigmund, 31 Funding, school, 120 Galicia, Laura, 198–204 Galton, Charles: nature versus nurture debate, 2; “survival of the fittest”, 14 Gay, Geneva, 18 Genetic predisposition, brain, 73–74 Genetics (nature), 2–3, 72–73 Gintis, Herbert, 6 Giroux, Henry: critical theory and resistance, 92–93; culture of positivism, 7; Education under Siege, 20–21; historicity of knowledge, 84; Ideology, Culture, and the Process of Schooling, 86; The Mouse That Roared: Disney and the End of Innocence, 182; resistance, 41–42; Schooling and the Struggle for Public Life, 44; student voice, 60–61; theory and practice, 88–89; unearthing political nature of culture, 27–28; ways in which hegemony is actualized through school curriculum, 33–34


Giving Kids the Business (Molnar), 65–66 Goddard, H.H., 67 Golden-white, Jodi, 152 Gore, Jennifer, 97 Gould, Stephen Jay, 65 Govan, Ilsa, 152 Gramsci, Antonio, 81; contradictory consciousness, 41; cultural hegemony, 36–37; hegemony, 32; Selections from Prison Notebooks, 103 Grande, Sandy, 34-35 Greene, Maxine, 81 Grosjean, Françios, 236 Habermas, Jurgen, 81 Hamilton, Charles, 39 Hegemony, 32–34, 90–91 Held, David, 30 Heritability concept, 14–15 Hernstein, Richard, 3 Hidden curriculum, xviii, 20, 21, 27, 33-34, 62, 90, 113 Hierarchical socialization, 5–7 Historicity of knowledge, 84–85 Home language loss, 135–136, 161–162 Horkheimer, Mark, 30 Horton, Myles, 81 Hudson, Liam, 13 Humanism education value, 35 Hybridity (hybrid identity), 53 Ideal speech situation, 95 Identity thinking, 237 Ideology, 29–32, 88–90; capitalist, 30–31; positivist, 7, 20; victim-blaming, 3 Ideology, Culture, and the Process of Schooling (Giroux), 86 Ideology and Curriculum (Apple), 21 Illich, Ivan, 81 Immersion documentary (Levien), 195 Immigration Act of 1924, 67 Independence education value, 34–35 Indigenous wisdom, 72, 238 Individual racism, 39–40 Inequality: brain, 70–76; perpetuating, 11; pluralism and, 9 “Influence of a Critical Bicultural Theory to Development of the Soy Bilingüe Adult Dual Language Model” (essay): identifying power relations and challenges, 134–135; power of theory of bicultural development, 135–142 Inner histories, 84 Institute of Social Research (Das Institute für Sozialforschung), 29–31 Institutional racism, 39–40 Intelligence testing: intelligence quotient (IQ) scores, 13–15; relationship between tracking process and, 16 Intergroup relations, 119–120 Islamophobia, 121 Jackson, Phillip, 20 Jensen, Arthur: heritability concept, 14–15; nature versus nurture debate, 2–3 Johnson, Richard, 28 Jones, Mona Lake, 174 Juvenile Justice Initiative (No on 21 campaign), 198–204 Kincheloe, Joe, 5, 19, 20, 27. 68, 97, 120, 123 Kohl, Herb, 81


Kozol, Jonathan, 81, 115–116 Language: cultural democracy, 105–109; domination, 35–37; free-form language play, 164; home language loss, 135–136, 161–162; of practice, 107; theoretical, 107 Lather, Patti, 97 Learning environment, physical structure of, 126 Legitimation domination mode, institutional hegemonic process, 33 Lenear, Theressa, 174–181 Lentz, Mary Grace, 152 Levien, Richard, 190 Lewis, Magda, 97 Liberal perspective, 4–5; power, 110; Traditional American pedagogy, 8–11 Liderazgo Latino group, 232 Life in Schools (McLaren), 82 Locke, John, 2 Lopez, Eduardo, 165–173 Los Enanitos Verdes (Soledad), 216 Luke, Carmen, 97 Macedo, Donald, 36, 43, 93, 95 Marcuse, Herbert, 31 Martínez, Bárbara, 140 McAlister, Laura, 227–233 McIntosh, Peggy, 230 McLaren, Peter, 33; dialectical theory, 85; ideology, 89; Life in Schools, 82; meritocracy, 12 Melting-pot theory, 38, 55–56, 117 Mentally gifted status, 115 Meritocracy, 11–13, 149–150 Mexican American children, 48–49 Michaels, Denise, 152 Mills, C. Wright, 5 The Mismeasure of Man (Gould), 65 Mode of engagement, cultural identity and, 53 Molnar, Alex, 65–66 Monahan, A. C., 158 Montaño, Theresa, 216–222 The Mouse That Roared: Disney and the End of Innocence (Giroux), 182 Multicultural curriculum, 116–120 Multimedia technology, 127 Murray, Charles, 3 Native Americans, 1, 37, 39, 46, 101, 118, 123 Nature versus nurture debate, 2–3, 72–73 NCLB (No Child Left Behind) policy, 11, 20, 67 Negative dialectics, 86–87 Neuroplasticity, brain, 72 Neuropsychology, 238 New Mexico, rural schooling, 158–165 The New Mexico–Centered Hispano Homeland, 159 No Child Left Behind (NCLB) policy, 11, 20, 67 No on 21 campaign (Juvenile Justice Initiative), 198–204 Olivos, Edward M., 210–216 O’Neill, Martin, 114 Organization, schooling, 120 Ortega, Dolores P., 158–165


Panethnic identity, 53 Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test, 67 Pedagogy. See Traditional American pedagogy A Pedagogy for Liberation (Shor & Freire), 96 Pedagogy of the City (Freire), 112 Pedagogy of the Heart (Freire), 197 Pedagogy of the Oppressed (Freire), 8, 79, 81, 191 Persell, Caroline H., 17 Phillips, Carol, 121 Pluralism, 9 Political power, and hegemony, 32. See also hegemony Positivist ideology, 7, 20 Poverty rate, 2010 U.S. Census, 235 Power, 25–28. See also culture and power The Power Elite (Wright), 5 Practical discourse, 95 Praxis, 87–88. See also critical bicultural praxis Preexisting information, 72 Preservice teachers, 212–213 Problem-posing educational approach, 96, 145–149 Proposition 187, 211 Proposition 203, 187 Proposition 209, 211 Proposition 227, 80, 187, 196, 211 Race and Intelligence (Hudson), 13 Race to the Top (RTT) policy, 11, 20 Racelessness (acting white), 55 Racism: See also inequality; challenging in classroom, 120–122; overview, 37–41 Ramirez, Manuel, 44–45 Rashid, Hakim, 49 Red Pedagogy (Grande), 34 Reification domination mode, institutional hegemonic process, 33 Reinvention of power, 95 Rendon, Laura, 222 Resistance: counterhegemony and, 91–94; overview, 41–43 Resource distribution, public schools, 114 Rethinking Schools, 239 Rosenbaum, James, 18 RTT (Race to the Top) policy, 11, 20 Rural schooling (New Mexico), 158–165 Rushton, J. P., 14–15 Ryan, William, 18 Salazar, Caron, 222–227 School governance, 120 Schooling and the Struggle for Public Life (Giroux), 44 Schooling in Capitalist America (Bowles and Gintis), 6, 16–17 SCTA (Student California Teachers Association), 217 Self-concept/self-esteem assessment, 236 Semantic memories, 75–76 Sexual politics, decolonizing, 97–98 Silencing agent, 199 Simon, Roger, 82


Slurs, racial, 121–122 Smith, Tilman, 149–157 Social Darwinism, 38, 116 Soledad, Enerna, 216 Solidarity: chicanas, 202; Euroamerican educators role in establishing among culturally diverse groups, 124–125 Solis, Arnoldo, 49 Sosa Massó, Carmen, 136 Soy Bilingüe: Language, Culture, and Young Latino, (Cronin and Sosa Massó), 136 Spanglish, 160–161 Sphere of biculturalism, 52 Standardized testing, 67 Standards of Quality and Effectiveness for Programs Leading to Bilingual Authorization: A Handbook for Teacher Educators and Program Reviewers, 197 Stanford-Binet 5 test, 67–68 Stereotypes, racial, 40 “Stop Braiding My Hair” (essay): critical bicultural pedagogy in rural Hispano context, 162–165; rural schooling, 158–165 Student California Teachers Association (SCTA), 217 Student learning, 119 Subject–object dichotomy, 88 Subordinate culture, 28–29 Synaptic connections, brain, 74–75 Tabula rasa, 2, 72–73 Tactical subjectivity, 54 Taylor, Frederick, 66 Tea Party, 5 Teacher Education Program (TEP), UCLA, 168–173 Teachers: authority, 109–113; culture of, 122–126; demoralization of, 128–129; development of multicultural curriculum, 117–118; education programs, 104, 119; Euroamerican (white), 63–64; expectations, 17–19; feminist, 97–98; frustrations of, 129–130; teacher-proof curriculum, 19–20 Teachers and Teaching Conditions in Rural New Mexico, 159 Teachers as Cultural Workers (Freire), 131 Teaching, transforming context of, 126–129 Teaching in borderlands, 98–100 “Teaching Umoja” (essay): bicultural praxis, 177–179; collective reframing and libratory act of love, 179–181; cultural response patterns, 175–177; mother’s story, 174–175 TEP (Teacher Education Program), UCLA, 168–173 Terman, L. M., 67 Testing: bicognitive development, 49; Diversity Within Unity Essential Principles, 120; economics and, 68–69; history of, 66–68; IQ scores, 13–15; overview, 65–66; relationship between tracking process and intelligence testing, 16; self-concept/self-esteem assessment, 236; unintended consequences, 76–78 Texas, influence on curriculum and textbook content, 21–22 Theoretical context, 88 Theoretical language, 107 Theory and practice, dialectical relationship between, 88 Theory of biculturality, 49 “Thirty Years of Research on Race and Cognitive Ability” (Rushton and Jensen), 14–15 Totalizing theoretical traps, language, 105 Tracking and ability grouping, 15–17 Traditional American pedagogy, 1–23; conservative educational discourse, 5–8; liberal educational discourse, 8–11; overview, 1–4; practices, 11–23 Traditional community, 48 Transformative intellectuals, 95


“Transforming Practice” (essay): bicultural pedagogy for wholeness, 165–167; evaluating students’ experiences, 171–173; implementing critical bicultural pedagogy, 170–171; reclaiming biculturalism, 167–168; urban teaching program, 168–169 Transitive consciousness, 60 Triliteracy, 178 Ture, Kwame, 39 UMAS (United Mexican American Students), 217 Underachievement, bicultural students: childhood determinism theory and, 10; conservative versus liberal view of, 3–4; intelligence testing, 13; nature versus nurture debate, 2–4; tracking and ability grouping, 16–17 Union activism, 217–218 United Mexican American Students (UMAS), 217 Valentine, Charles, 46–47 Victim-blaming ideology, 3 Voice: See also cultural democracy and bicultural voice; collective public, 201; development of, 60–61; language domination and, 37; role of Euroamerican educators in development of bicultural voice, 63–64 WE-ACT (Work of European-Americans as Cultural Teachers), 152–157 Wealth distribution, U.S., 235–236 Wechsler Intelligence scales, 67 Wheelock, Anne, 16 White educators. See Euroamerican educators White Women Organizing Against Racism (WWOAR), 152 Work of European-Americans as Cultural Teachers (WE-ACT), 152–157 WWOAR (White Women Organizing Against Racism), 152 Xenophobia, 121 Yerks, R. M., 67 Young, Iris Marion, 186 “Young Chicanas and the No on 21 Campaign” (essay): building solidarity across differences, 201–202; critical understanding of power, 202–204; overview, 198–199; power of political participation, 199–201


About the Author Antonia Darder holds the Leavey Presidential Endowed Chair in Ethical and Moral Leadership at Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles and is internationally recognized for her contributions to critical pedagogy and contemporary theories of racism, social class, and schooling. She is the author of numerous books, including Reinventing Paulo Freire: A Pedagogy of Love and A Dissident Voice: Essays on Culture, Pedagogy and Power. Darder, who is also a poet and visual artist, was born in Puerto Rico and raised in East Los Angeles.