Department of Teaching, Learning and Teacher Education


Date of this Version



Stacy, J. (2015). Partnerships through adult education: re-conceptualizing family literacy in the New Latino Diaspora. PhD diss., University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Lincoln, Nebraska.


A DISSERTATION Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy, Major: Education Studies (Teaching, Curriculum, and Learning), Under the Supervision of Professor Edmund T. Hamann. Lincoln, Nebraska: May, 2015

Copyright (c) 2015 Jennifer Leigh Stacy


Schools are complex social institutions that mediate the experiences of newcomer families in the US. In recent years, a body of scholarship known as New Latino Diaspora has followed the migration of Latino families as they have moved away from traditional gateway communities and settled into territories that have previously been home to few, if any, Latino families. As a result, both institutionalized and grassroots educational initiatives have emerged as vehicles to support newcomer families as they learn English and adapt to living in a new community. This dissertation looks at the cultural space of a family literacy program that was hosted by a large urban school district in Chesterfield, Nebraska, a city whose Latino population had nearly doubled between the years 2000 and 2010. Specifically, this ethnographic study depicts how the cultural space of ELL family literacy was constructed at three elementary schools and how Latina mothers interacted within this space.

Findings show that when the program was appropriated into practice, the enacted family literacy experience diverged from the original model and embodied varying perceptions about what constituted the program. Ironically, the notion of “family” was largely absent from the program: families were separated upon entering the program and interacted with each other under strict regulations. The program personnel held varying perceptions about the participating parents; in turn, the Latina mothers responded to these perceptions with silence, compliance, and subversion. English language learning was viewed mostly from a traditional perspective and incorporated elementary school concepts. Sociocultural literacies emerged, but often went unnoticed. Re-conceptualizing the family literacy program as a partnership through adult education would be more reflective of its enacted reality and it would counter placing elementary attributes onto parents. Furthermore, moments when sociocultural literacies emerged in the family literacy classroom offer a starting point from which to develop culturally relevant pedagogies that are reflective of and responsive to parents’ realities. Finally, this family literacy program provides one model for the professionalization of the field of family literacy and is fertile ground on which to develop and implement culturally responsive pedagogies that integrate sociocultural literacy learning.

Adviser: Edmund T. Hamann