Cultural Organizing review: Mothers United
Relationships between urban schools and parents have long been troubled by misunderstandings, fear, and racism. Latina/o parents, for example, are made unwelcome in schools that do not make space for Spanish speakers, that hold negative assumptions about parents’ abilities, and that remain alienated from the communities in which they reside. In response, the last 20 years have seen a massive increase in parents and communities of color successfully organizing to reform schools. Many have fought for and won the creation new schools, in order to change these long-standing patterns.
But what happens after the win? Once a new school is founded, how do parents, teachers, and community members negotiate the complicated terrain of designing and running a school? In Mothers United, Andrea Dyrness takes an in-depth look at this process through rich critical ethnography and participatory research with a group of Latina mothers. What she and the “Madres” discover is that the organizing win is only the beginning, and relations of domination and colonialism seep into even the most well-meaning school-community partnerships.