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Learning math in Hawaiian at a full-immersion Hawaiian-medium elementary school. Photo: Tiffany S. Lee, Indigenous-Language Immersion Study

their children are making a commitment to sustaining their Indigenous language and identity. Often the parents take classes to learn the language to support their child’s learning at home. Parents volunteer and spend a great deal of time at the schools. We see parents in the classrooms, working side by side with the students at their desks and with teachers. “Parents and families often relocate from distant places so that they can be near one of these schools. They make a commitment to reengineering their lives so that their children have this opportunity. What also tends to develop is a close connection with other families at the school and across generations within families.”

Across the United States, ILI schools look quite different. Some offer multiple language immersion programs (for example, both Spanish and ILI tracks) while others offer both English-medium and Indigenous language-medium tracks. One thing Professors McCarty, Lee, Nicholas, and Seltzer are interested in is why parents with demographically similar backgrounds choose to enroll their child in ILI or English-medium schooling. What kinds of opportunities to learn and outcomes are evident for students from similar backgrounds in the two programs? And what can the two kinds of programs learn from each other? Although it’s too early to talk about findings, the very motivation to conduct the study arose from positive outcomes reported for some ILI schools. “We had evidence from certain sites that attendance, graduation, and college-going rates were higher, and that test scores were on par with or better than mainstream English programs, even though the tests were in English, not the language students were learning in,” says McCarty. “So, this is a promising practice, but we didn’t have any systematic data on that.” The work of Professors Marin and McCarty illustrates that equity in education can, and should, involve more than curricular changes alone. Youth, families, teachers, and researchers must together reexamine the end-goal of education, and ultimately be willing to shift established educational practices, in order to best benefit communities and support Indigenous futures. “It’s a different kind of innovative practice—more than a single curricular change,” says McCarty. “These are whole-community efforts, looking

forward from the work that they’re doing now to the next generation, and the next generation, and the next generation beyond that. So, it’s about something larger than getting students to do better on tests, or even helping students to learn their Indigenous language.” For both Professors Marin and McCarty, their community-research partnerships are bigger than improving educational outcomes alone. As they write, “It’s a commitment to decolonizing educational environments and much more— namely, cultural continuance, reclamation, and resurgence.”

Ananda Marin

Profile for UCLA Ed&IS

UCLA Ed&IS Magazine Spring 2019  

The UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies’ magazine highlights the public scholarship of our faculty. The cover of this...

UCLA Ed&IS Magazine Spring 2019  

The UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies’ magazine highlights the public scholarship of our faculty. The cover of this...

Profile for uclaedis
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