Critiquing Community in Community College: Critical Event Narrative Inquiry Into Subtractive Schooling and Culture Loss With Immigrant ESL Students



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The English as a second language (ESL) student population is one of the fastest growing demographics in U.S. public schools (National Center for Education Statistics, 2021). ESL students who attend post-secondary schools are more likely to choose community colleges (David & Kanno, 2020). Despite this, a dearth of research on immigrant ESL students in community colleges exists (Bunch et al., 2011; Conway, 2009; David & Kanno, 2020; Park, 2019; Teranishi et al., 2011). Moreover, research suggests a graduation gap exists with ESL college students graduating at lower rates than non-ESL counterparts (Razfar & Simon, 2011).Community colleges must ensure they can meet the needs of this student population. I conducted a one-year critical event narrative inquiry (Kim, 2016; Webster & Mertova, 2007), which explored seventeen immigrant ESL students’ lived experiences with college. I identified eight critical events, representing students’ most meaningful and transformative experiences. These included the lack of authentic caring relationships, loss of being part of a group-oriented supportive community, and challenges and benefits of becoming more individualistic. These findings suggested subtractive schooling (Valenzuela, 1999) and culture loss (Wong Fillmore, 1991) contributed to students’ meaningful experiences. I shared implications in the form of letters, inviting administrators and content faculty to partake in action-oriented discussions to enhance equity and inclusion for immigrant ESL students through examining institutional policies, processes, curriculum, professional development, and support services through culturally relevant and culturally sustaining lenses (Ladson-Billings, 2014; Paris & Alim, 2017). The significance, strengths, and limitations of the study, as well as potential for future studies were also discussed.



Community college, Culture loss, English as a Second Language (ESL), Immigrant students, Subtractive schooling