Language Politics and Classroom Practices in Upstate New York

Document Type


Department (Manual Entry)

Dept. of Educational Studies


Contemporary historians of U.S. immigration and ethnicity, and those who chart the experiences of Puerto Ricans on the mainland, may recognize the flaws inherent in usingthe "immigrant analogy" to evaluate and anticipate the Puerto Rican experience on themainland. However, my ethnographic research in an upstate New York city with a growingPuerto Rican population suggests that such perspectives have yet to make their way intothe mainstream. In analysis of community and school discourse over a three-year period, Ifound ethnic success stories being used by community "old-timers" to "discipline" thosewho are judged to have failed through a dearth of hard work. Within such discourses, thecontinued maintenance of Spanish (including "Spanglish") among Puerto Ricans indexesthe unwillingness of the speaker to conform to "American" ways, is perceived as a keycontributor to the low socioeconomic status of the Puerto Rican community, and threatens the unity of the nation.