Degree Date


Document Type

Dissertation - Public Access

Degree Name

Ed.D. Doctor of Education

Academic Discipline

Educational Leadership

First Advisor

Norman Weston

Second Advisor

Vicki Gunther

Third Advisor

Richard Best


The immigration debate in the United States has been ongoing for decades. While the outcome of the debate means more for some than others, one thing is always a constant: there are families behind every story of immigration. To uncover some of these stories, four American Latino immigrant families were interviewed about their experience with assimilation and factors associated with the academic success of their children. The children of the families attended a rapidly diversifying mid-western suburban middle school. The primary research question was: what are the perceptions of Latino parents regarding their children’s education in their neighborhood school? Themes that emerged from the intervews were: the “American dream” was not what the families had hoped for; opportunities for immigrants are not the same as they are for natural-born citizens; a sense of belonging is inhibited by the stigma of being an immigrant, although; an inability to fully assimilate does not necessarily hinder progress toward becoming a citizen. Because they had been born in the U.S., the families felt their children were fully assimilated into the culture of the country. However, because they were of Latino descent, the families also believed their children would never be fully comfortable calling the U.S. home. Implications and recommendations for educators include: adopting a culturally responsive school model, employing culturally responsive teaching strategies, providing professional development for teachers and school leaders to promote empathy for immigrant students and families, establishing family-friendly community/school partnerships, enacting hiring practices and protocols that take multicultural dispositions and practices into account, and continuously reviewing and updating curriculum and leadership skills to meet the needs of all incoming immigrant students.

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