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Teaching in Tensions: Latino Immigrant Youth, Their Teachers, and the Structures of Schooling


by Susan Roberta Katz 1999

This article examines the tensions inherent in the relationship between Latino immigrant youth and their teachers at a desegregated urban middle school in Northern California, exploring these tensions from both the students' and teachers' perspectives. It is based upon data from a year-long ethnographic study of the school experiences of 8 immigrant students from Central America and Mexico, all of whom had older siblings or close friends involved in neighborhood gangs. It also includes interviews with the students' teachers regarding their perceptions of the students. Significantly, students named teachers' discrimination against them as Latinos as the primary cause of their disengagement from school, refusing to invest in learning from these teachers. At the same time, these teachers felt they were trying their best to do a good job, responding to the school administration's mandate to invest in other students who were considered most likely to keep standardized test scores high. Thus this article explores how teachers' attitudes and practices perceived by students as racist may be actually linked to structural conditions within the school, such as tracking and high teacher turn-over, that preclude caring relationships with students.


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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 100 Number 4, 1999, p. 809-840
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 10343, Date Accessed: 10/22/2017 8:51:30 PM

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About the Author
  • Susan Katz
    University of San Francisco
    E-mail Author
    Susan Roberta Katz is assistant professor and chairperson of the Teacher Education Department in the School of Education at the University of San Francisco. Her research study from which the data for this article are drawn won the National Association of Bilingual Education (NABE) Outstanding Dissertation Award for 1996.
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