Document Type

Dissertation

Publication Date

8-2010

Abstract

In 2002, voters in Massachusetts passed a referendum, commonly referred to as "Question 2," requiring that, "All children in Massachusetts public schools shall be taught English by being taught in English and all children shall be placed in English language classrooms" (M.G.L.c.71A§4). This dissertation investigates the system of education for secondary bilingual learners and their teachers resulting from the passage of Question 2 by examining assumptions and ideologies about race, culture, and language across policy and practice. Drawing on critical race theory (CRT) and the construct of majoritarian stories, two distinct and complimentary analyses were conducted: a critical policy analysis of state level laws, regulations, and policy tools, and a critically conscious longitudinal case study of one teacher candidate who was prepared to work with bilingual learners and then taught bilingual learners during her first three years of teaching. The critical policy analysis, conducted as a frame analysis, exposes that legally sanctioned racism and linguicism are institutionalized and codified through Massachusetts state policy. Additionally, Massachusetts state policy consistently and strongly promotes four common majoritarian stories regarding the education of secondary bilingual learners and their teachers: there is no story about race, difference is deficit, meritocracy is appropriate, and English is all that matters. The longitudinal case study demonstrates the power of these majoritarian stories in classroom practice and how they limit the opportunities of bilingual learners and their teachers while also perpetuating institutionalized racism and linguicism. Taken together, the two analyses that make up this dissertation reveal a problematic system deeply affected by majoritarian stories that obscure the role white privilege and white normativity play in perpetuating issues of inequity for secondary bilingual learners and teachers. This dissertation argues that in order to disrupt institutionalized racism and linguicism, these stories must be consistently, proactively, and powerfully challenged across all levels of policy and practice.

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