Mexican American school leadership in south Texas: toward a critical race analysis of school finance policy

Access full-text files




Alemán, Enrique, 1971-

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



The purpose of this study was to understand the nature of the discourse utilized by Mexican American educational leaders in the debate over school finance reform in Texas. After thirty years of struggle toward equity in funding, legislative reform proposals and litigation to overturn the current system are now under consideration. This study examined how educational leaders privately situate their district’s financial health in the current system. It also delineates Mexican American school leadership public discourse in this context. Because education policy analysis and the politics of education are rarely examined through a critical race framework (López, 2003; Parker, 2003, pg. 154), a methodology utilizing this perspective was employed. A Latino Critical (LatCrit) Theory framework was utilized to further investigate how racial identity, social justice goals and political organization were addressed by the Mexican American participants (Haney López, 1998; Nuñez, 1999). Interviews with school leadership, examination of legislative testimony and an analysis of state school finance policy were the primary methods of collecting data. The research suggests that school leadership discourse is informed by personal backgrounds in struggle, perseverance and work ethic. Political organization and advocacy is identified as an essential element of school leaders’ responsibilities, however, concepts of race and racism are defined narrowly and deemed ineffective in the political discourse. Although the educational leaders view school finance as unfair, inequitable, and insufficient, they deny the institutional role that racism plays. Whereas they negate the racial hierarchy instituted by the school finance system, they practice a racial, coalitional process of political participation and organization. This research further develops scholarship in educational administration, politics of education and education policy analysis. It continues on the emerging critical race policy analysis track laid by Parker (2003), heeds López’ (2003) call to introduce race analysis in the politics of education field, and builds upon the burgeoning LatCrit scholarship conducted by Solórzano & Yosso (2001). This research has implications for training school leadership in areas of critical race thought, policy analysis and politics of education. It directly connects to social justice, social activism and equity issues affecting Mexican American and marginalized communities of color.