Despite their citizenship and English monolingualism, Mexican Americans have long been known to remain largely working class, which, academically, has meant that they tend to be mostly high school graduates, with low rates of college attendance and completion. Attempting to understand this phenomenon, Five Generations of a Mexican American Family in Los Angeles chronicles the home, work and school lives of the author's multigenerational family throughout the twentieth century. Using oral histories of 33 members across five generations, the Fuentes story illuminates the interaction between race, ethnicity and class at home, in the labor market and in schools, which circumscribe the opportunity and resources (or lack thereof) for academic success. Generally, findings show that these factors work together to reproduce the family's social standing over generations. Equally important, the analysis reveals how the persistence and strength of the Fuentes' heritage cultural values (buena educación and familism) have insulated them from the continued threat of racial discrimination and economic hardship in American life. The Fuentes story provides the reader with a keen view of the process by which Fuentes' moved from immigrants to ethnic Americans, and shows how they have gracefully survived the harsh and unpredictable nature of being of a racial minority and the working class.
A graduate of Stanford's School of Education, Dr. Christina Chavez is now an assistant professor at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona in the Liberal Studies Department. She teaches undergraduate teacher candidate courses in the history of education and politics of teaching, families and schools, and language, culture and identity. Her research interests are in Latino families, later-generation Chicanos, minority teacher education, and language and literacy issues of linguistic and racial minority students.
Part 1 Introduction Chapter 2 The Researcher: My Story as Fuentes Chapter 3 My Story's Reflection on the Fuentes Story Chapter 4 The Fuentes Family and Me: A Prelude to an American Story Chapter 5 Organization of the Book Part 6 Chapter 1: The Fuentes Family: An Overview across Generations Chapter 7 Generations of the Fuentes Family Chapter 8 Family Time: Fuentes Family Inter- and Intra-Generation Activity Chapter 9 The Fuentes Family as Working-Class Americans Chapter 10 Getting to Know the Fuentes: Sketches of Participants Part 11 Chapter 2: Home, Part I: The Original Fuentes Home Chapter 12 The Original Fuentes Home: First-Generation Parents Raising Children Chapter 13 General Mexican Traditions in the Fuentes Family Chapter 14 First Generation's System of Values Part 15 Chapter 3: Home, Part II: Later-Generation Fuentes Homes Chapter 16 Fuentes Parents' Aspirations Over the Generations Chapter 17 Change and Continuity in the Values of Later Generation Fuentes Families Chapter 18 Summary Part 19 Chapter 4: Fuentes' at Work Chapter 20 The Labor Market and Economy Chapter 21 The Connection Between Home Values and the World of Work Chapter 22 Entering the Workforce Chapter 23 Fuentes' Resources for Finding Work Chapter 24 Getting Certified to Get Qualified Chapter 25 Summary Part 26 Chapter 5: School, Part I: Fuentes' in Schools Chapter 27 Los Angeles County and Valley Schools Chapter 28 School Experiences From Kindergarten to High School Chapter 29 Teachers, Mentors and Classes Chapter 30 Fuentes' in Trouble: Drifting Away and Dropping Out Chapter 31 The Fuentes' Future: The Fifth Generation in Schools Today Chapter 32 Summary Part 33 Chapter 6: School, Part II: Fuentes' Homes, Language and Literacy Chapter 34 Language Patterns Chapter 35 The Significance of Language and Literacy in the Fuentes Homes Part 36 Chapter 7: Fuentes Homes and School: Parent Involvement Chapter 37 Fuentes Parents' Perceptions of Children's Performance and Schooling Chapter 38 Fuentes Parent Role in Their Children's Schooling Chapter 39 How Fuentes Parents Help with School Chapter 40 What It Means to be Fuentes Parents in American Schools Part 41 Chapter 8: Conclusion: What the Fuentes Family Teaches Us Chapter 42 Intersections: Race, Ethnicity and Class in the Family and School Chapter 43 Intersections: Race, Ethnicity and Class Between Family and Work Chapter 44 What We Can Learn From the Fuentes Family: Strategies to Improve Mexican American/Latino Student Performance