Literacy After Labor: School-Age Mothers and High School English
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Since the passing of Title IX legislation in 1972, pregnant and parenting students have been protected from discrimination in federally-funded educational settings. The experiences of school-age parents in schools, however, have been primarily studied in programs that separate them from their non-parenting peers. This dissertation broadens the study of school-age mothers by examining the relationship between parenting status and student experience of four school-age mothers enrolled in an inclusive English class. Classroom talk, responses to literature, and writing were analyzed to uncover ways that motherhood functions as potential asset or Fund of Knowledge in the classroom. In this qualitative case study, ethnographic methods were utilized to observe classroom interactions and gather curricular artifacts. Additionally, interviews were conducted with the teacher and focal participants. The school-age mothers in this study drew upon their lived experiences as parents to inform their classroom literacy practices. They were the most active participants in the class, showing increased motivation and ability to self-advocate. They brought their parenting identities into transactions with texts they read, and they utilized writing to counter dominant discourses. However, they also positioned themselves as more than mothers, struggling against past and present conditions that threatened their physical, emotional, and financial wellbeing. At times the curriculum and teacher’s practices functioned to explore these realities and heal wounds.