Linguistic and racial re-formation of indigenous Mexicans’ languages and races in Florida Heartland K-12 schools

Rebecca Campbell-Montalvo


I interrogate how consequential representations of student characteristics are fashioned by analyzing identification, recording, and reporting of student and parent language, race, and ethnicity in K-12 school registration, school records, and state reporting. In the Florida Heartland, analysis of ethnographic school observations, school electronic records, a language inventory (survey), interviews, and official state data show that language, race, and ethnicity information for some K-12 students and parents (especially indigenous Mexicans) collected during enrollment are not recorded accurately and undergo transformation from collection to reporting. According to my language inventory, students’ parents were indigenous language speakers 19 times more often than reflected in raw school records. In records from the local middle school, 10 percent of students were American Indian, though the state reported this as 0 percent. This linguistic and racial re-formation resulted from several factors, including registrars recording languages as others (i.e. Spanish instead of Náhuatl), differential questioning practices, and state reporting policy. As discussed, enhanced procedures and updated policy should improve areas affected by inaccurate data.


educational research methods; ethnicity; raciolinguistic ideologies; Latinization; QuantCrit

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