What Kind of Possibilities Do We Have?: Educators’ Complex Images of Latino Immigrant Students and Families

Stacie Kae Pettit, H. James McLaughlin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The Latino population in the United States is on the rise, but historically, Latino graduation
rates have been low. Many educators lack sufficient intercultural preparation, and therefore, teachers
may tend to blame student failure on cultural and familial deficiencies. In this study, we elicited educators’ perceptions of Latino students and the students’ families through 10 focus group interviews at 6 target schools (4 elementary schools, 1 middle school, and 1 high school). Findings include contradictory views of students’ and families’ attitudes towards education, and consistently negative views of students’ and families’ educational backgrounds. Latino families were seen as close, caring, and hardworking, but with the wrong priorities and in a state of crisis. Given these findings, we believe that there is a need for educators to question their assumptions through selfreflection, in order to overcome stereotyped images of Latino students. To that end, we recommend 3 overlapping tiers of professional learning with increasing depth of challenging experiences: (1) intercultural information, (2) intercultural inquiry, and (3) intercultural immersion.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)115-127
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Contemporary Research in Education
Issue number2&3
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2013


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