“When a school reinforces an English-Only policy, it sends a message to all children that minority languages have less value than English as tools of learning. And because the school is a microcosm of society, this message also suggests that those languages are not an integral part of the American society. This message equally deprives mainstream children of the opportunity to experience the cultural diversity in this country, and robs every child of the chance to learn the full potential of human possibilities” (Heath).
- I analyze my family’s social perspective as subject for critical self-reflexivity.
- I focus on my family’s educational networks and our adaptation to English dominance in a single generation after emigrating from Mexico to southeastern Arizona.
- I describe the cultural context of the Arizona borderlands in the 1950s and assimilative political pressure for monolingualism.
- I document this narrative with personal interviews with my parents that illustrate the rich literacies in my family’s immigrant history, and also our institutional encounters and sometimes easing and sometimes constraining experiences with the dominant language.
- I conclude with a discussion of current subtractive schooling practices in Arizona grounded in denying students access to their histories and a call for autoethnographic composition assignments in writing classrooms.