Presentation Details

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ The Eleventh International Literacy and Education Research Network Conference on Learning

Creating a Small High School for “Language Minority” Students: The Story of ALAS

Jesus Castellon, Gregory Cramer.

This session will describe the struggle of bilingual secondary teachers, students, community members, and a university professor to establish an urban public charter school for bilingual students. The Advanced Language and Academic Studies High School (ALAS, which means wings in Spanish) was a response to the need for a smaller, more community-oriented school to serve Latino and immigrant students. ALAS members are creating a school with a rigorous, balanced curriculum which promotes high levels of academic bilingualism/biliteracy, with transformative pedagogy as its cornerstone. ALAS members share a profound belief that their students are talented, interesting, worthy, and intelligent, and see their role as one of creating optimal educational contexts in which students can develop and use their multilingual/multicultural identities. The presentation will share the initial findings of a collaborative ethnography documenting the experiences and struggles of the ALAS community in the establishment of this school. How they confronted structural and bureaucratic obstacles, weathered political opposition, and resisted coercive measures will be presented through the use of multimedia. The role of parental agency in particular will be highlighted. An analysis of how such efforts relate to the greater US public urban schooling context will be given.


Jesus Castellon  (United States)
Bilingual Mathematics Teacher
Advance Language and Academic Studies (ALAS) High School
Milwaukee Public Schools

Gregory Cramer  (Uganda)

  • Community-oriented school
  • Bilingual education
  • Critical pedagogy
  • Secondary education
  • Public urban education
  • Transformative pedagogy
  • Biliteracy
  • Ethnography
  • Parental agency

(30 min. Conference Paper, English/Spanish)