Bilingual education policy as political spectacle: Educating Latino immigrant youth in New York City

Jill P. Koyama, Lesley Bartlett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


To examine the ways in which high schools in New York City attend to second language acquisition is to consider everyday actions in schools, government dealings, localized policy responses, and disparate discourses on bilingualism. It is to position the circumstances of learning and teaching English in an American high school within the problems encountered and produced when multiple educational policies collide in local settings, such as individual schools. It is also to consider, and then interrogate, the 'political spectacle' in which educational actors associated with schools - teachers, counselors, parents, students, community members, activists, and administrators - become dramaturgically cast into political-policy roles as they enact federal, state, and district policies with regard not only to issues of language acquisition and bilingualism but also to increased accountability, mandated high-stakes testing, and other sanctions-driven approaches. Drawing on qualitative research conducted between September 2003 and May 2008, this article situates Gregorio Luperón High School, a successful bilingual school for Latino newcomers, within a web of politics and policies, grounded in the history of bilingual education in New York City. It reveals how this school, caught within a political-policy matrix of centralized federal authority under No Child Left Behind and decentralized accountability under the City's Children First reforms, continues to emphasize second language acquisition as the ongoing work of building a bilingual speech community, even in the face of educational policies that increasingly narrow assessment of language acquisition and intensify the overall evaluation of academic achievement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)171-185
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2011


  • Bilingual education
  • Latinos
  • Policy
  • Political spectacle

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Education
  • Linguistics and Language


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