Mexican Migrant Parents’ Access to School Resources and Perceptions of U.S. Schools: The Interstice of Linguistic Structural Realities and Family Cultural Backgrounds

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The two goals of this chapter are: (1) to investigate the resources provided by public schools to students from migrant farmworking families with varying citizenship status; and (2) to understand how their parents perceive their children’s U.S. school experiences. These Mexican and/or Indigenous families have come to the U.S. in fear of violence, to escape poverty, and with a lack of educational or social opportunity in Mexico. This study contributes to understandings of how U.S. schools might better meet the needs of children and families from migrant farmworking (often Indigenous) backgrounds who are forcibly displaced from their homelands due to economic inequality and political upheaval. As Campbell-Montalvo has written about elsewhere (2019), “Indigenous migrants are at the margins of multiple racial, ethnic, and national spaces” (see also Casanova SB. Hisp J Behav Sci 34(3):375–403, 2012; Casanova SB, O’Connor B, Anthony-Stevens V. Lat Stud 14(2):192–213, 2016; Zúñiga ML, Lewin-Fischer P, Cornelius D, Cornelius W, Goldenberg S, Keyes D. J Immigr Minor Health 16:329–339, 2014). Of the one million Indigenous Latinos who have migrated to the U.S., the largest groups are Mixtec, Zapotec, and Triqui from Oaxaca (McGuire S, Georges J. Adv Nurs Sci 26(3):185–195, 2003). Set within the agricultural and rural Florida Heartland, this chapter draws on more than 100 observations of elementary school offices and classrooms, 21 interviews with teachers and staff, and 13 interviews with Mexican migrant parents. Analysis of data shows that language accessibility and access to school resources differed between two elementary schools (Emerald and Apple) in a rural district serving migrant farmworking families fleeing economic insecurity, social unrest, and political turmoil in Mexico. One of the elementary schools (Emerald) was known to be accommodating to families and comparatively more linguistically accessible. Although half of the interviewees’ children attended Apple, which grappled with linguistic accessibility, all parents interviewed had positive views of both schools. The chapter outlines the ways these parents put forth extra effort, through emotional and unpaid labor and ingenuity, in the face of linguistic inaccessibility in order to access school resources for their children.

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Educational Linguistics



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