“I do all kinds of work with people in the community. I work with the Private Industry Council and help people get jobs. I also work with the Historical Society. These jobs keep me busy and focused on school and help me meet lots of interesting people.”
-from “Unveiling the Promise of Community Cultural Wealth to Sustaining Latina/o Students’ College-Going Information Networks” by Liou, Antrop-Gonzalez, and Cooper.
The word “community” means different things to different people. For me, my community is multi-faceted. My blood family, my in-laws, my spiritual influences, and now, my doctoral program cohort, are all part of my community through shared passion, interests, and goals. I see my community as more than people; they are a network of resources for me to draw from for knowledge and support. The article, Participatory Action Research and City Youth: Methodological Insights From the Council of Youth Research discussed the collaboration of students, teachers, researchers and other community entities engaging in action-research to identify and solve systemic issues in education (Bautista, Bertrand, Morrell, Scorza, & Matthews, 2013). Wegner (2000) discussed how organizations should design themselves to act as social learning entities to foster a “sense of belong” thus enriching the community of practice holistically. The authors of Keeping up the Good Fight used Flores v. Arizona as a basis for presenting a framework, and approach to having a purposeful discussion on English learning programs and the ways in which the community offers rationalities in support of such programs (Thomas, Aletheiani, Carlson, & Ewbank, 2014). Communities, whether social, familial, educational, and practice-based should be the network in which educational capital and success is cultivated.
In my effort to formulate research focused on micro-inequities and their impact on student retention in higher education environments, I found Liou, Antrop-Gonzalez, and Cooper’s (2009) article on community cultural wealth to be a strong connection to not only my research interests, but to the theme of how community systems impact student learning and their aspirations to attend college. In short, the article discusses the ways that college-orientated information is shared between teacher-educators and students who have college aspirations, primarily those who come from Latina/o communities. This is a different argument entirely from the large amount of research centered upon access to higher learning for minorities. Rather, this argument seeks to expose the ways in which minority students are not provided with necessary information, also known as “high stakes” information, to be successful in obtaining a college degree (p. 542). An example of this finding can be seen when a guidance counselor holds a belief that all students shouldn’t go to college because there would be no car mechanics, landscapers, or housekeepers in society, further suggesting that these positions are of value to those who’ve obtained a higher-economic status as validation for the argument (Liou, Antrop-Gonzalez, & Cooper, 2009).
The findings of the article discovered that the Latina/o students analyzed within the study found alternative ways to seek high stakes information to fulfill their collegial dreams through social, familial, navigational, and linguistic information networks (e.g. building relationships with fellow church members and pastoral staff for guidance and encouragement to keep aspirations intact). This is in comparison to White students who are given a wealth of information such as ACT/SAT supplies, information on Advanced Placement (AP) courses, Dual Enrollment courses, and pre-professional materials (health professions and legal professions) because there is a general belief that they should reasonably be able to attend, and succeed in college.
The negation in delivering high stakes information is, in fact, a micro-inequity because the teacher-educator makes an assumption that students of color, especially those with undereducated parents, shouldn’t be expected to attend college, and thus, denies the student high-stakes information to prepare and succeed in a collegial environment. This act is largely different than overt discrimination, because it is a very small message that is sent to the student throughout their schooling that suggests they have no place in higher education. Unfortunately, some students will succumb to this aggression choosing menial employment positions which perpetuates poverty within their community, while others will use this experience to fuel their aspirations leaning on those information networks mentioned previously.
Information networks are crucial parts of cultural capital, especially for minority students (Yosso, 2005). Where a White student will contact a tutor or guidance counselor for information or advice, minority students may choose to talk to a family member or church parishioner for support. Various experiences and identities contribute the overall cultural wealth and capital of the community. As teacher-educators, it is of the utmost importance that we continue to build and draw upon the identities of our own and those of our students to maintain cultural relevance within our practice.
Bautista, M. A., Bertrand, M., Morrell, E., Scorza, D., & Matthews, C. (2013). Participatory action research and city youth: Methodological insights from the Council of Youth Research. Teachers College Record, 115(100303), 1-23.
Liou, D. D., Antrop-Gonzalez, R., & Cooper, R. (2009). Unveiling the promise of community cultural wealth to sustaining latina/o students’ college going information networks. American Educational Studies Association, 534-555.
Thomas, M. H., Aletheiani, D. R., Carlson, D. L., & Ewbank, A. D. (2014). Keeping up the good fight: The said and unsaid in Flors v. Arizona. Policy Futures in Education, 12(2), 242-261.
Wegner, E. (2000). Communities of practice and social learning systems. Organization Articles, 7(2), 225-246.
Yosso, T. J. (n.d.). Whose culture has capital? A critical race theory discussion of community cultural wealth. Race Ethnicity and Education, 8(1), 69-91. doi:10.1080/1361332052000341006
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