Challenging the Status Quo: What Arizona Principals of High Performing Urban Schools are Doing to Improve the Outcomes of Latino Students
AuthorWhite, Mary M Carter
developing language proficiency
equity in education
AdvisorLopez, Francesca A.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction, presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThis qualitative comparison case study investigates the beliefs and behaviors of two Arizona principals who serve predominantly Latino students in excelling urban public high schools. It also examines the structures positioned to promote equitable educational opportunities. Although the majority of K-12 students in Arizona are Latino, the public education system is designed to accommodate the White minority with Eurocentric curricula and assessment, rigorous coursework, and access to post-secondary education. However, a purposive sampling demonstrates how two high poverty schools with majority Latino student populations are disrupting the status quo as evidenced by the outstanding graduation rates and low dropout ratio; additionally, their Latino students are entering post- secondary education at higher rates than the state and National averages of their peers. Moreover, both principals cultivate a caring and supportive climate amidst politically charged concerns that disrupt the educational environment. By applying a tripartite synthesis of Scanlan and Lopez (2012) and Khalifa, Gooden and Davis’ (2016) framework, the principals’ behaviors and beliefs are analyzed through the constructs of culturally responsive and equitable leadership. Critical consciousness, deficit thinking, high quality teaching, sociocultural integration, and other themes are explored. Through a comparative case study (CCS) approach (Bartlett & Vavrus, 2016), interviews and observations of the principals as well as field notes and artifacts are analyzed on the horizontal and vertical axes. The data are triangulated for validity to determine what beliefs, behaviors and structures are utilized by principals to promote educational success for their Latino students. Additionally, Arizona’s educational policy is analyzed on the transversal axis over time and space exposing unfair practices that historically have hindered and continue to oppress the advancement of our Latino youth. The study discovers how the principals’ critical awareness of their students’ background and lived experiences contribute to the development of a caring, inclusive, and efficacious campus environment. Also discovered, the importance of principal beliefs to empower Latino youth. Both school leaders yield high expectations for every student with the belief that each can and will be successful, and the principals assume responsibility to provide access to higher education for every graduating senior. Other findings reveal deficit thinking, segregation, and discrimination continue to plague school environments which may result from the dominant culture reigning over Arizona’s educational policy, curricula, structures and practice. An unintentional finding is the influence of politics, safety and media on the schools, the students, and their families; these themes emerge as primary concerns in contemporary public education. One interesting conclusion that implicates further research is the value of principals who have similar ethnic, social, and cultural backgrounds as their students; the connection may be significant in contributing to improved academic outcomes. In the end, the study reveals the behaviors and beliefs of school leaders that can improve or inhibit Latino student outcomes; ultimately, there is urgent need for advocacy and policy reform on the local, state, and federal level if our student majority is to learn and thrive in Arizona schools.
Degree ProgramGraduate College