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Title:Standing up for a son at school: Experiences of a Mexican immigrant mother
Author:McClelland, J., & Chen, C.
Resource Type:Journal Article
Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences, 19(3)

pp. 281-300.
ERIC #:EJ549614 (click to view this publication's record on the ERIC Web site)
Education Level:Elementary
Literature type:Research and Evaluation

This article reports on a larger study about parentsÕ experiences standing up for their children at school. It followed the interactions of a Spanish-speaking immigrant mother with English-speaking teachers and principals in U.S. schools regarding four disciplinary actions faced by her son. This article explores the question ÒWhat is it like for a Mexican immigrant mother to stand up for her son at school?Ó After describing the sonÕs episodes at school and the motherÕs experiences, the researcher provides a discussion about three main findings. First, the mother could not understand what was happening at the schools because of language barriers and the lack of information provided by the school. Second, the mother felt profoundly alienated in her childÕs schools due to their practice of taking action on their own. Finally, she had little power or capacity to adequately protect her childÕs interests, which brought on feelings of inadequacy and intimidation. The researcher concluded that language, cultural and power structure barriers made it difficult for the mother to act on her sonÕs behalf. The data come from four conversational interviews conducted over several months. This study used a phenomenological research methodology defined by the author as Òinterpretive research that seeks a deep understanding of what it means to be human...through the study of everyday lived experiences and meanings we construct from them (van Manen, 1990).Ó Further explanation of this emerging qualitative research methodology is provided in the article. Although the researchers do not list recommendations, they do offer some reflection questions that could help practitioners think about the implications of this study for their professional practice.

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