Date of Graduation

5-2014

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Sociology (MA)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

Sociology and Criminal Justice

Advisor

Shauna Morimoto

Committee Member

Anna Zajicek

Second Committee Member

Juan Bustamante

Keywords

Immigration

Abstract

This paper explores the structure of the secondary education system in Northwest Arkansas and how it shapes the culture of education for newly arrived Latino immigrants. Significant achievement gaps remain between non-Hispanic white students and Latinos within secondary education. Uncovering possible causes for this gap is necessary in order to allow equal educational opportunity for all students. While prior researchers debate the method of language instruction as a barrier to education, there has been little attention to the relationship between organizational structure and levels of achievement. In-depth interviews with teachers and administrators reveal a consistent theme: large amounts of time and energy spent focused on accountability measures seem to privilege the middle-class, native-English speaking student. I find that attempts at English education for a large influx of non-English speakers constructs secondary education as a type of inequality regime by creating and maintaining a class- and race-based concept of the `ideal student.' Latino students, in particular, struggle to attain the ideal student status.