Between cultural erasure and awareness: a study of the practices of translation that educational institutions implement to communicate with Spanish-speaking parents

Due to a steady growth of a non-English speaking, Latinx population within the United States, federal policies (Elementary and Secondary Education Act in 1965 and reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, Every Student Succeeds Act in 2015) have mandated that schools provide non-English speaking parents with translation services. Effective communication with Spanish-speaking parents is crucial to guarantee the success of formal educational practices. If schools do not adequately establish trustworthy communication with their stakeholders, meaningful parental involvement is impossible. Translation, previously ignored as a substantive issue, now constitutes a crucial school practice to examine. This constructivist, pragmatic case study explores the processes of English-to-Spanish translation utilized by a small, rural school district in the Central Valley of California. Document analysis, focus groups, and interviews yielded data that resulted in four themes that explain the socio-cultural construction of translation practices within the school setting: (1) the challenges of translation in the school settings, (2) the complexity of the process of translation, (3) bilingualism as a professional expertise, and (4) the legitimization of bilingualism in the school culture.