Developing Transformative Space for Student Resistance: Latina/o Students’ Interruption of Subtractive Schooling Practices

Karina Chavarria


Social reproduction scholars and the literature on critical race theory and student resistance contend that schools are not neutral institutions existing in a vacuum free of the political and social struggles for rights and resources (Delgado Bernal, 1998; Fine, 1991). Instead, schools can be institutions that reproduce dominant ideologies and oppressive hierarchies or arenas from which to challenge power and status-quo policies (Freire, 1970). Drawing from two years of participant observations at Hillcrest High School, this study explores how Latina/o students in collaboration with their teacher engage in transformational resistance to subtractive schooling. I document how co-leadership in the classroom between teacher and students supports the co-creation of a transformative space for critical reflection. Similar to activist groups creating spaces to cultivate youth political engagement, classrooms can be reconstructed to foster the development of students as agents of change. This article presents the process through which Latina/o students gain critical reflection of social inequalities and systems of oppression that enables them to advocate for more inclusive and just schooling practices.

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