Department of Teaching, Learning and Teacher Education


Date of this Version



Published in Race, Culture, and Identities in Second Language Education, ed. Ryuko Kubota & Angel Lin (New York: Routledge, 2009), pp 197–214.


Copyright © 2009 Taylor & Francis. Used by permission.


Many parts of the United States are facing an increasing number of immigrant students. Focusing on mostly White teachers at a junior high school, which enrolls predominantly Mexican immigrant students, Socorro Herrera and Amanda R. Morales examine these teachers’ belief system. The authors identify the perspective of colorblind nonaccommodative denial among these teachers. • What is a colorblind perspective? How does it affect everyday teaching practices? • How would teachers justify their not accommodating minority students? What are the educational consequences of nonaccommodation?

Improving the learning experiences of culturally and linguistically diverse Mexican-American students in the United States is a complex task critical to the future stability and quality of life in the United States. A recent U.S. Census Bureau report indicates “Hispanics accounted for half of the 2.9 million population growth from 2003 to 2004 and now constitute one-seventh of all people in the United States” (Jelinek, 2005). Conversely, Hispanic Latinas/Latinos constitute the highest dropout rates of any population in the nation, 350,000 per year (Montemayor & Mendoza, 2004). In the last decade, as a proactive approach, researchers and reflective practitioners alike have sought to evaluate, understand, and improve the conditions of schools for culturally and linguistically diverse (CLD) students. Theory and research has shown that teachers, administrators, and the overall school climate they create playa critical role in the educational success of all students (Baker, 1996; Banks & Lynch, 1986; Benard, 1997; Carr & Klaussen, 1997; Ginorio & Huston, 2001; Johnson, 2002; Palmer, 2003). For better or for worse, the social climate of schools exists as the incubator for attitudes and ways of thinking about race and class that in turn affect teaching and learning (Chang, 2003; Garcia & Van Soest, 1997; Johnson, 2002). For historically oppressed peoples, determining whether discriminatory acts are based on race or socioeconomic status is not always easy. Due to social and historical factors unique to the United States, the oppressed often possess characteristics that make them a target for both. As specified by Helms (1990), “racism is a complex ideology that occurs at individual, cultural, and institutional levels” (p. 4). Because the evidence of its existence in a system is often subtle, the marriage of racism and power proves to be a subversive phenomenon that is difficult to identify and evaluate in school policy and practice (Chang, 2003; Walker, Shafer, & Iiams, 2004). Larson and Ovando (2001) discuss how this is commonly perpetuated in schools: “When inequity has been institutionalized, teachers and administrators no longer have to be biased to continue biased practices; we merely have to do our jobs and maintain the normal practices of the systems we have inherited” (p. 3).