Álvaro Corral coauthors publication on anti-Latinx rhetoric in high school curriculum

Research reveals that nationwide curricular standards promote harmful stereotypes

February 9, 2021   /  
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Álvaro Corral, assistant professor of political science

Álvaro Corral, assistant professor of political science at The College of Wooster, coauthored the recently published “‘All Enemies, Foreign and Domestic’: The Presence of Anti-Latinx Political Rhetoric and Latinxs as Third World Threats in Secondary U.S. Citizenship Curriculum,” a study that analyzes anti-Latinx ideas in high school social studies standards and curriculum nationwide. The article was published in Teachers College Record, a top journal in education, with two coauthors, Christopher L. Busey and Erika Davis.

To complete their research, the three authors collected data on high school civics and social studies standards and curriculum across the country and closely analyzed the way that Latin America and Latinx people, a gender-neutral term that refers to people of Latin American origin or descent, were characterized. “Across the standards, Latin America is often positioned as a backwards region politically that is rife with violence, political instability, political violence, corruption, and drugs,” Corral said. The authors argue that the presence of these harmful stereotypes in curriculum contribute to anti-Latinx immigration political beliefs in the United States. “A major thrust of the article is to say the way that we talk about Latin America shows itself in anti-Latinx immigration positions,” Corral said.

In Corral’s research and teaching, he emphasizes the racial diversity of people who identify as Latinx, another element that he found was missing from the high school curriculum he analyzed. “My work in political science highlights these lines of the internal diversity of this group that are absent in the curricular standards,” he said. “Latinos are homogenized into this one monolithic, essentialized group,” something the article strives to point out and push against, since Latinx people come from a wide variety of backgrounds and countries.

Corral, Busey, and Davis began their research in the middle of Donald Trump’s presidency, and were interested in investigating how social studies curriculum contributed to the significant acceptance of Trump’s anti-Latinx rhetoric. Corral emphasized that while Trump is no longer in office, anti-Latinx sentiment is still present across the country and in curriculum, and was even before his presidency. “The work of trying to amend curricular standards across the country in a way that doesn’t reproduce harmful stereotypes is ongoing work that predated Trump and that we need to continue to do,” he said.

“‘All Enemies, Foreign and Domestic’” builds upon critical Latino studies in education as well as existing research of curriculum in individual states, but the publication is the first study that looks at the curricular standards in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. Corral hopes that this publication will both contribute to academic research and encourage change in curricular standards. “I think good research does both; it has an audience in academia and then hopefully helps practitioners take stock of where things are and what needs to be done,” he said. “Another part of the piece is to have people hopefully notice that history is socially constructed by the winners and those in power, so we need to bring a critical lens about power and oppression to everything about curricular standards. We need to think about how we dismantle some of these ideas and reorient our goals for students so that we can arrive somewhere else.”