Skip to main content
Social Sci LibreTexts

8.1: The Crisis and Hope in Education

  • Page ID
  • \( \newcommand{\vecs}[1]{\overset { \scriptstyle \rightharpoonup} {\mathbf{#1}} } \)

    \( \newcommand{\vecd}[1]{\overset{-\!-\!\rightharpoonup}{\vphantom{a}\smash {#1}}} \)

    \( \newcommand{\id}{\mathrm{id}}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\)

    ( \newcommand{\kernel}{\mathrm{null}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\range}{\mathrm{range}\,}\)

    \( \newcommand{\RealPart}{\mathrm{Re}}\) \( \newcommand{\ImaginaryPart}{\mathrm{Im}}\)

    \( \newcommand{\Argument}{\mathrm{Arg}}\) \( \newcommand{\norm}[1]{\| #1 \|}\)

    \( \newcommand{\inner}[2]{\langle #1, #2 \rangle}\)

    \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\)

    \( \newcommand{\id}{\mathrm{id}}\)

    \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\)

    \( \newcommand{\kernel}{\mathrm{null}\,}\)

    \( \newcommand{\range}{\mathrm{range}\,}\)

    \( \newcommand{\RealPart}{\mathrm{Re}}\)

    \( \newcommand{\ImaginaryPart}{\mathrm{Im}}\)

    \( \newcommand{\Argument}{\mathrm{Arg}}\)

    \( \newcommand{\norm}[1]{\| #1 \|}\)

    \( \newcommand{\inner}[2]{\langle #1, #2 \rangle}\)

    \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\) \( \newcommand{\AA}{\unicode[.8,0]{x212B}}\)

    \( \newcommand{\vectorA}[1]{\vec{#1}}      % arrow\)

    \( \newcommand{\vectorAt}[1]{\vec{\text{#1}}}      % arrow\)

    \( \newcommand{\vectorB}[1]{\overset { \scriptstyle \rightharpoonup} {\mathbf{#1}} } \)

    \( \newcommand{\vectorC}[1]{\textbf{#1}} \)

    \( \newcommand{\vectorD}[1]{\overrightarrow{#1}} \)

    \( \newcommand{\vectorDt}[1]{\overrightarrow{\text{#1}}} \)

    \( \newcommand{\vectE}[1]{\overset{-\!-\!\rightharpoonup}{\vphantom{a}\smash{\mathbf {#1}}}} \)

    \( \newcommand{\vecs}[1]{\overset { \scriptstyle \rightharpoonup} {\mathbf{#1}} } \)

    \( \newcommand{\vecd}[1]{\overset{-\!-\!\rightharpoonup}{\vphantom{a}\smash {#1}}} \)

    \(\newcommand{\avec}{\mathbf a}\) \(\newcommand{\bvec}{\mathbf b}\) \(\newcommand{\cvec}{\mathbf c}\) \(\newcommand{\dvec}{\mathbf d}\) \(\newcommand{\dtil}{\widetilde{\mathbf d}}\) \(\newcommand{\evec}{\mathbf e}\) \(\newcommand{\fvec}{\mathbf f}\) \(\newcommand{\nvec}{\mathbf n}\) \(\newcommand{\pvec}{\mathbf p}\) \(\newcommand{\qvec}{\mathbf q}\) \(\newcommand{\svec}{\mathbf s}\) \(\newcommand{\tvec}{\mathbf t}\) \(\newcommand{\uvec}{\mathbf u}\) \(\newcommand{\vvec}{\mathbf v}\) \(\newcommand{\wvec}{\mathbf w}\) \(\newcommand{\xvec}{\mathbf x}\) \(\newcommand{\yvec}{\mathbf y}\) \(\newcommand{\zvec}{\mathbf z}\) \(\newcommand{\rvec}{\mathbf r}\) \(\newcommand{\mvec}{\mathbf m}\) \(\newcommand{\zerovec}{\mathbf 0}\) \(\newcommand{\onevec}{\mathbf 1}\) \(\newcommand{\real}{\mathbb R}\) \(\newcommand{\twovec}[2]{\left[\begin{array}{r}#1 \\ #2 \end{array}\right]}\) \(\newcommand{\ctwovec}[2]{\left[\begin{array}{c}#1 \\ #2 \end{array}\right]}\) \(\newcommand{\threevec}[3]{\left[\begin{array}{r}#1 \\ #2 \\ #3 \end{array}\right]}\) \(\newcommand{\cthreevec}[3]{\left[\begin{array}{c}#1 \\ #2 \\ #3 \end{array}\right]}\) \(\newcommand{\fourvec}[4]{\left[\begin{array}{r}#1 \\ #2 \\ #3 \\ #4 \end{array}\right]}\) \(\newcommand{\cfourvec}[4]{\left[\begin{array}{c}#1 \\ #2 \\ #3 \\ #4 \end{array}\right]}\) \(\newcommand{\fivevec}[5]{\left[\begin{array}{r}#1 \\ #2 \\ #3 \\ #4 \\ #5 \\ \end{array}\right]}\) \(\newcommand{\cfivevec}[5]{\left[\begin{array}{c}#1 \\ #2 \\ #3 \\ #4 \\ #5 \\ \end{array}\right]}\) \(\newcommand{\mattwo}[4]{\left[\begin{array}{rr}#1 \amp #2 \\ #3 \amp #4 \\ \end{array}\right]}\) \(\newcommand{\laspan}[1]{\text{Span}\{#1\}}\) \(\newcommand{\bcal}{\cal B}\) \(\newcommand{\ccal}{\cal C}\) \(\newcommand{\scal}{\cal S}\) \(\newcommand{\wcal}{\cal W}\) \(\newcommand{\ecal}{\cal E}\) \(\newcommand{\coords}[2]{\left\{#1\right\}_{#2}}\) \(\newcommand{\gray}[1]{\color{gray}{#1}}\) \(\newcommand{\lgray}[1]{\color{lightgray}{#1}}\) \(\newcommand{\rank}{\operatorname{rank}}\) \(\newcommand{\row}{\text{Row}}\) \(\newcommand{\col}{\text{Col}}\) \(\renewcommand{\row}{\text{Row}}\) \(\newcommand{\nul}{\text{Nul}}\) \(\newcommand{\var}{\text{Var}}\) \(\newcommand{\corr}{\text{corr}}\) \(\newcommand{\len}[1]{\left|#1\right|}\) \(\newcommand{\bbar}{\overline{\bvec}}\) \(\newcommand{\bhat}{\widehat{\bvec}}\) \(\newcommand{\bperp}{\bvec^\perp}\) \(\newcommand{\xhat}{\widehat{\xvec}}\) \(\newcommand{\vhat}{\widehat{\vvec}}\) \(\newcommand{\uhat}{\widehat{\uvec}}\) \(\newcommand{\what}{\widehat{\wvec}}\) \(\newcommand{\Sighat}{\widehat{\Sigma}}\) \(\newcommand{\lt}{<}\) \(\newcommand{\gt}{>}\) \(\newcommand{\amp}{&}\) \(\definecolor{fillinmathshade}{gray}{0.9}\)

    Community Cultural Wealth as a Tool for Social Justice

    Today Latinx students make up 54% of the student population in California K-12 schools, yet they remain a numerical minority when it comes to educational attainment in all of the critical transitions between elementary school, high school, college, and graduate school.1 In fact, according to the Chicano Studies Research Center 2015 report “Still Falling Through the Cracks: Revisiting the Latina/o Educational Pipeline,” the Latinx student population is falling behind all other major racial/ethnic groups in the U.S.2 What attributes to the cracks causing Latinx students to "leak out of" the educational pipeline? Patricia Gandara and Frances Contreras tackled this question in their book, The Latino Education Crisis pointing to failed social policies that position Latinx children at a disadvantage, even before they enter school.3 The authors point to the need for comprehensive support in health care, quality school facilities, enriched curriculum, qualified teachers, language support, and intervention/support programs. Furthermore, they point to poverty, segregation, and the lack of a sense of belonging that students and their families experience in schools. 

    The American public educational system from its inception was inherently violent for Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC), and immigrants. Referring to the educational experiences of Black children, Bettina Love (2016) builds upon critical race and legal scholar, Patricia Williams (1991), articululation of “spirit murder” within the school context, noting it “is the denial of inclusion, protection, safety, nurturance, and acceptance because of fixed, yet fluid and moldable, structures of racism.”4 The everyday attempts to kill the aspirations and spirits of BIPOC in education occurs methodically through systemic, institutionalized, state-sanctioned violence built on racism and colonization. Education has never been able to fully humanize our existence, recognize our intellectual brilliance, and offer a place of protection. Instead, the educational system has historically been informed by deficit-based discourses that communicate a particular view of Latinx cultures, histories, and traditions as backward, inferior, deficient, and an impediment to educational success.5

    Pause and Reflect

    Muxerista and joteria activist-scholar and professor Anita Tierina Revilla (2021) defines spirit protectors and spirit restorers "as people, places, organizations, beliefs, and/or practices (they can also be art, poetry, books, music, and dance) that give marginalized people the strength to reject and survive attempted spirit murder and/or restore our wounded spirits, especially in the face of repeated attacks and woundings both inside and outside of institutions of education.”6 While it is important to name and identify the trauma inflicted violence caused by education, we must equally make space to ask, “Who are your spirit protectors and your spirit restorers?"

    Critical Race Theory scholars have challenged dominant orientations of education with asset-based discourses, noting that working-class Latinx students in particular come from communities with extensive funds of knowledge (i.e. skills, abilities, ideas, practices) that schools do not reflect or honor.7 Funds of knowledge view households and communities as essential educational settings where learning takes place and knowledge is generated, transmitted, and preserved, providing a form of non-monetary educational capital or value that is either unrecognized and when it is, is devalued in mainstream education. 

    Chicana education scholar Tara Yosso contributes to this understanding of educational capital, adding that students possess six forms of cultural capital, which she identified as community cultural wealth (aspirational, familial, social, navigational, resistant, linguistic).8 From this standpoint, Latinx cultures are an asset not a detriment to student educational success and achievement. Taking it one step further, Yosso and Burciaga remind us that a focus on the cultural wealth of Latinx communities is foundational to locating how communities acquire and enact power in the educational landscape. The community cultural wealth of marginalized groups strengthens their survival and resistance to racism and other forms of oppression. This theoretical orientation allows us to observe what we may miss otherwise due to active projects of erasure, co-optation, marginalization, and re-writing of our histories.9

    Theory Spotlight: Tara Yosso's Community Cultural Wealth Framework

    “As we consider the generations of communities who have preserved and passed down cultural wealth despite harsh conditions, let us be fierce visionaries for generating opportunities to cultivate community cultural wealth as a tool of reclamation––a tool for social justice.”11 The act of reclaiming our stories is a tool for social justice. This chapter  presents historical snapshots in which Latinx communities activated change in education and society, employing and expanding their community cultural wealth in the process of doing so.12 It is through these activist traditions that Latinx communities continue to maintain hope and possibility to activate change today.


    1 Latinos are 54% of the student population, followed by White (24%), Asian (9%), African American (6%), Filipino (3%), two or more races (3%), non reported, American Indian or Alaskan Native, and Pacific Islander (2%). Manuel Buenrostro, “Latino Students in California’s K-12 Public Schools,” CSBA FactSheet (October 2016): 1–5.

    2 Lindsay Huber Pérez, Maria C. Malagón, Brianna R. Ramirez, Lorena Camargo Gonzalez, Alberto Jimenez, and Verónica N. Vélez, “Still Falling Through The Cracks: Revisiting the Latina/o Education Pipeline,” Chicano Studies Research Center, No. 19 (November 2015): 1–23.

    3 Patricia Gandara and Frances Contreras, The Latino Education Crisis: The Consequences of Failed Social Policies, (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2010).

    4 Bettina L. Love, “Anti-Black State Violence, Classroom Edition: The Spirit Murdering of Black Children,” Journal of Curriculum and Pedagogy, Vol. 12, No. 1 (2016): 22–25; Bettina L. Love, “I see Trayvon Martin”: What teachers can learn from the tragic death of a young black male, The Urban Review Vol. 45, No. 3 (2013): 1–15; Patricia J. Williams. The Alchemy of Race and Rights, (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1991). 

    5 Richard Valencia, ed. The Evolution of Deficit Thinking: Educational Thought and Practice. (New York and London: Routledge, 1997).

    6 Anita Tijerina Revilla, “Attempted Spirit Murder: Who Are Your Spirit Protectors and Your Spirit Restorers?,” The Journal of Educational Foundations, Vol. 34, No. 1 (2021): 36.

    7 Luis C. Moll, Cathay Amanti, Deborah Neff, and Norma Gonzalez, “Funds of Knowledge for Teaching: Using a Qualitative Approach to Connect Homes and Classrooms,” Theory into Practice Vol. XXXI, No. 2, (Spring 1992): 132–141; Norma González, Luis C. Moll, Cathy Amanti, eds. Funds of Knowledge: Theorizing Practices in Households, Communities, and Classrooms. (New York and London: Routledge, 2006).

    8 Tara J. Yosso, “Whose Culture Has Capital? A Critical Race Theory Discussion of Community Cultural Wealth,” Race Ethnicity and Education, Vol. 8, No. 1 (2005): 69–91.

    9 I am reminded here of mythical claims of reverse racism where the idea of a post-racial America enables white Americans among others to make claims of racial victimhood that give credence to proclamations such as “White lives matter”. Also, the way Dr. Martin Luther King’s work is used to propel narratives of individualism and colorblindness, stripping away his more radical orientations rooted in a socialist, anti-imperialist, and anti-racist worldview.

    10 Tara J. Yosso and Rebeca Burciaga, “Reclaiming Our Histories, Recovering Community Cultural Wealth” Center for Critical Race Studies at UCLA, No. 5 (June 2016): 1–4.

    11 Yosso and Burciaga, “Reclaiming Our Histories” pg 2.

    12 As Tara Yosso reminded me when I was her student at UC Santa Barbara, history matters.

    This page titled 8.1: The Crisis and Hope in Education is shared under a CC BY-NC 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Lucha Arévalo (ASCCC Open Educational Resources Initiative (OERI)) via source content that was edited to the style and standards of the LibreTexts platform.