B is for Bilingual, Black, or Broken: Erasure and pathologization through school-based ethnic, linguistic and disability classifications
María Cioè-Peña

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship

Award Year



University of Pennsylvania

Primary Discipline

Bilingual/Bicultural Education
This project examines the racializing and pathologizing experiences of Black Latinx students who receive English language and special education services. Due to the continued use and perception of ?Latinx? as a monolithic identity, Black Latinx students are missing from data even as they are heavily impacted by racism and ableism. As such, we cannot fully account for the depth of inequity across schooling. This study will document the experiences of Black Latinx students who received English language and/or special education services, with the goal of introducing the particularities of these students? experiences to equity discourses. Using interviews and descriptive inquiry, I will gather data that represent the experiences of Black Latinx students to showcase how current practices obscure issues related to their segregation across programs designed to support marginalized or at-risk learners. By centering these students? experiences, this study has the potential to surface information that is critical to developing and applying policies focused on equity and inclusion as they relate to racialized learners who receive language and special education services. This will be the first major study of how educational labels are used to maintain hierarchies that privilege non-Black, English-dominant/bilingual, enabled students over Black, emergent bilingual students with disabilities.
About María Cioè-Peña
María Cioè-Peña is an assistant professor in the educational linguistics division at the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania. A former bilingual special education teacher, she studies bilingual children with dis/abilities, their families, and their ability to access multilingual and inclusive learning spaces within public schools. Her interests are deeply rooted in political economy, critical dis/ability awareness, and raciolinguistic perspectives within schools and families. Her work appears in Teachers College Record (2021),  Urban Review (2020), Annual Review of Applied Linguistics (2022), International Journal of Inclusive Education (2017/2022), Journal of Latinos & Education (2021/2022). Her book, (M)othering Labeled Children: Bilingualism and Disability in the Lives of Latinx Mothers, received the 2023 American Association of Applied Linguistics First Book Award. In 2022, her article ?Wanting to Leave; Needing to Stay: Issues for undocumented mothers of children with disabilities? received the Inaugural Outstanding Publication Award from the Council For Exceptional Children?s Division for Culturally & Linguistically Diverse Exceptional Learners. She was also awarded the Early Career Award by AERA?s Bilingual Education Research SIG in 2022.

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