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Citation:Auerbach, S. (2002). ÒWhy do they give the good classes to some and not to others?Ó Latino parent narratives of struggle in a college access program. Teachers College Record, 104(7), 1369-1392. EJ656617.

This study explores the role of storytelling in working-class parentsÕ presentation of themselves and their interactions with the school. Based on interviews conducted with parents of children that participated in a college access program at a large, racially and socio-economically diverse high school in the Los Angeles area, the researcher found that three types of narratives emerged: 1) parentsÕ own stories of their struggle with schooling, meant to serve as cautionary tales or counter role-models for their children and other families; 2) stories of encounters with school staff where parents felt rejected, serving as opportunities to reverse the disempowerment they felt during those encounters; and 3) counter-stories that challenged official narratives of schooling. Drawing on narrative analysis, socio-cultural theory, and critical race theory to interpret and analyze these stories, the researcher found that sharing these stories opened up Òfree spacesÓ for authentic parent learning and support, as well as the questioning of school structures. It helped previously isolated parents build social networks and a sense of commonality while providing them a forum from which to negotiate conflict with the school. It also helped parents envision new roles and identities that empowered them to take charge of their participation in their childrenÕs education. The sample consisted of sixteen parentsÑeleven of Mexican and Central American background, two U.S.-born Chicanos, and three African Americans. Data were collected through in-depth, semi-structured interviews, conducted in English and Spanish, during studentsÕ 10th, 11th, and 12th grade years. Field notes of family-school interactions in the college access program over a three year period were also used. The article presents case summaries of four Latino parents that exemplify the researcherÕs findings. It ends with a good discussion of several implications for the development of healthy school-family relations that can support student success. As in other qualitative studies with small samples, findings are meant to build theory, rather than to be generalized to the larger population.

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