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Quality Education for Latinos and Latinas

Print and Oral Skills for All Students, K–College

By Rita and Marco Portales

Publication Year: 2005

As educators and legislators across the country debate how to improve public schools, the most vital factor often disappears from the equation—the relationship between the teacher and the student. According to veteran educators Rita and Marco Portales, this relationship is the central issue in the education of students, especially Latino/a students who often face serious barriers to school success because of the legacy of racism, insufficient English-language skills, and cultural differences with the educational establishment. To break down these barriers and help Latino/a students acquire a quality education, the Portaleses focus attention on the teacher-student relationship and offer a proven method that teachers can use to strengthen the print and oral skills of their students. They begin by analyzing the reasons why schools too often fail to educate Latino/a students, using eloquent comments from young Latinos/as and their parents to confirm how important the teacher-student relationship is to the student’s success. Then they show how all educational stakeholders—teachers, administrators, state education agencies, legislators, and parents—can work together to facilitate the teacher-student relationship and improve student education. By demonstrating how teachers can improve students’ reading, critical thinking, writing, and oral communication skills across the curriculum, they argue that learning can be made more relevant for students, keeping their interest levels high while preparing them for academically competitive colleges.

Published by: University of Texas Press

Series: Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long Series in Latin American and Latino Art and Culture

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pp. ix-xii

As a husband-and-wife team of educators, we have written this book to make Americans aware of the nature of the interactions that often make learning particularly difficult for Latino and Latina students. We have written Quality Education to show that the failure and dropout rates among such students and among students of all backgrounds and ethnicities can be considerably ...

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pp. xiii-xiv

The Race and Ethnic Studies Institute (RESI) at Texas A&M University supplied start-up funding for the early research needed to write this book. During the past two years, our Mexican American/U.S. Latino Faculty Association (MALFA) has also been working steadfastly to establish the Mexican May 2004, we are pleased to report, the Board of Regents approved ...

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pp. 1-5

Educational foundations like the Carlos H. Cantu Hispanic Education and Opportunity Endowment increasingly recognize both the seriousness and the depth of the problems that Latina and Latino students face. The Cantu endowment is a million-dollar gift to Texas A&M University’s College Station campus donated in the fall of 1999 for the purpose of addressing the shockingly ...

PART I: Education and Latino and Latina Students Today

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pp. 7

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1. Thinking about Our Spanish-Speaking Students in the Schools

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pp. 9-18

Why do Latino and Latina youngsters tend to lag behind their peers in the same schools? Gaining proficiency in English, to be sure, is a major barrier for students who speak only Spanish, but even the great majority of Hispanic students who communicate mainly in English usually receive lower grades and less competitive college entrance test scores. No doubt many people in ...

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2. Latino and Latina Students and the Schools We Could Create

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pp. 19-39

College entrance examination scores and other college admissions criteria regularly document the fact that most minority students do not receive a K–12 education that allows them to compete evenly with non-Hispanic white college applicants. Every year we learn through the media, surveys, and research studies that minorities are academically less prepared than their white ...

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3. But Our Education Systems Are Distended

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pp. 40-51

The purpose of education is not to weed some students out, not to select only the best students, as some people appear to believe, but to discover the strengths of all students and to educate them using their talents and resources. We make a point of this objective because schools cannot “weed out” or separate out their young people without lowering the future possibilities of all ...

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4. Why Students Drop Out

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pp. 52-69

Often students stop attending classes regularly and stop completing their schoolwork a good while before they finally drop out. These early warning signals should immediately alert educators to the students’ loss of interest in school. If such signs are left unaddressed, students are likely to drop out eventually, telling us that the students themselves are quite aware that they have been ...

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5. A Mexican American Mother Who Will Not Visit School

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pp. 70-75

The teacher was distressed to hear such sentiments expressed with so much disillusionment, yet the mother’s words support statements we have made throughout this book. Like that mother, we are haunted by stories of disenchantment and signs that we also see in the faces of our Latino and Latina students. These are all signals that dramatize the ...

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6. The Tribal Mentality and Favoritism

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pp. 76-88

Pretending that racism has not existed has allowed many Native, African, Asian, and Mexican Americans like Mrs. G. to downplay discrimination. Racism has traditionally kept many ethnic minority Americans, particularly those who cannot visibly pass for mainstream white Americans, from enjoying better lives. For that reason, living as if American life is driven mainly by the ideal ...

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7. Crime and Properly Funded Schools

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pp. 89-100

Despite the millions of dollars appropriated for education by the federal and state governments, almost everywhere we look today education falls short of meeting the academic and social needs of students. Education should both equip students to be academically competitive and teach them how to be great U.S. citizens who respect the laws and who know how to behave ma-...

PART II: How to Repair an Education System

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pp. 101

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8. Teachers, Administrators, Board Members, State Education Agencies, Legislators, and Taxpayers: Which is the Most Important Group?

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pp. 103-111

Identifying the influence of the many groups of professionals and individuals in an education system that shape the curricula that teachers deliver to students is no easy feat. Effectively coordinating the contributions and the suggestions of people connected to education is difficult, yet that is exactly the nature of the challenge today. If we are to provide a quality education to every ...

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9. The K– 12 School District Team

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pp. 112-115

If quality education is the goal of a school district, then the teacher-student classroom relationship necessarily must be at the center of all educational activity in the schools. We assert this main anchoring education principle not to take the “side” of teachers, as some top administrators may incorrectly interpret our effort, but to begin to show how the carefully orchestrated efforts of a ...

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10. Teachers and Students in the Classroom

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pp. 116-127

What is the nature of the recommended relation- ship between teachers and students? In Emile (1762), Jean-Jacques Rousseau expressed the belief that a carefully selected mentor should ideally instruct only one pupil at a time, but public and private school budgets today require teachers simultaneously to teach as many students as legislators and supervisors deem reasonable. ...

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11. Understanding and Educating all Students

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pp. 128-135

A few summers ago considerable construction went on at the local high school. What adults thought and talked about were the higher taxes brought on by the new construction. Almost every adult we spoke to hoped that the school would be safer and better and that the extra taxes would translate into improved educational opportunities for the students. Although some citizens had ...

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12. The Four K– 16 Cultures

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pp. 136-141

I n the United States, students have to learn how to negotiate at least four separate school cultures as they make their way from kindergarten to graduation and on to college. We say four, although the community college level may arguably constitute a fifth culture. Then, of course, there are other variations, depending on whether we are thinking about a public or private school education. ...

PART III: A Print and Oral Approach

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pp. 143

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13. Emphasizing All Print and Oral Skills

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pp. 145-161

Children and young adults learn in a great variety of ways, not all of which are addressed pedagogically in the schools. Some ways of learning actually distract, interfere and even counter other more organized ways of learning that teachers invent and design. That is why educators need to identify both the areas of learning in which students need to succeed and the best methods to ...

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14. Blueprint for Reinstating Social Values and Civic Virtues

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pp. 162-165

Teachers who employ a print and oral pedagogy in their classrooms are in a great position to emphasize the essential social values and civic virtues that undergird American society, helping to promote academic excellence with this strong sup-porting structure, too. Excellent print and oral skills foster an academic integrity that creates responsible citizens who possess the kind of good ...

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15. A Print and Oral Approach that Champions the Importance of Clauses

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pp. 166-176

A print and oral pedagogy considerably enhances a student’s writing, and one way to demonstrate this, as an example, is by championing the lowly, unappreciated clause. Effective essays and well-constructed, informative oral presentations are basically built around clusters of words that most writers think with be-fore turning these words into clauses and phrases that capture thoughts ...

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16. A Third Dimension to Words: Choreographing Writing

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pp. 177-183

A good way to further emphasize how clauses and words can be used at every grade level to discuss appropriate ideas is to create exercises designed to teach students how to look at class materials in different, more imaginative ways. At the elementary level, for example, teachers can emphasize not only reading out loud, which is an unacknowledged art, but activities that provide ...


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pp. 185

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17. Quality Education and the Teachers in the Classroom

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pp. 187-189

We have championed a quality education for Latinos and Latinas, one that can be pursued and dispensed to all students because, we contend, too many Spanish-speaking Americans, in particular, drop out of school in numbers that have hobbled too many generations. Stating how many actually leave their schooling is difficult because most school districts count dropout ...


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pp. 191-210


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pp. 211-215


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pp. 217-225

E-ISBN-13: 9780292797093
E-ISBN-10: 0292797095
Print-ISBN-13: 9780292706330
Print-ISBN-10: 0292706332

Page Count: 239
Publication Year: 2005

Series Title: Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long Series in Latin American and Latino Art and Culture

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Subject Headings

  • Multicultural education -- United States.
  • Latin Americans -- Education -- United States.
  • Latin American students -- United States -- Social conditions.
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