Madres Unidas: Parents Researching for Change

Produced by: Andrea Dyrness

58 min. Color. 2003.

Captioned: No

Catalog #: 0134

Price: $225.00

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Product Description

This unique and inspiring documentary follows five immigrant mothers who became involved in an effort to start a new small school for their children, and later became researchers and videographers to document their journey. Their stories are set in the context of a city-wide school reform and community organizing movement in Oakland, California.

The small-schools movement began as an effort to improve education in Oakland’s flatlands, where the majority of immigrants live, by creating new small autonomous schools and involving parents and community members as leaders in reform. The video explores parent participation in the reform through the eyes of the five parent researchers, and reveals unexpected lessons about the barriers to community participation. The video also chronicles the personal transformation of each of the mothers as they evolved into vocal advocates and skilled educational researchers, and the impact that their research had on the new small school.

The video thus tells two intersecting stories as one: the story of the parent researchers in Madres Unidas, and the story of the new small school they helped found. In elaborating on the process undertaken by the women, the video shows how the experience of engaging in research was tremendously empowering and transforming for them.

The video itself not only generates new knowledge about school reform, but the process of making it also leaves a group of Latina mothers with new powers to act. In the end, the video is a strong testament to the value of participatory research as an alternative method that expands the possibilities for democratic participation and social change.

“Madres Unidas” will generate discussion in a variety of courses in sociology, ethnic studies, social psychology, education, Hispanic-American studies, cultural anthropology, and women’s studies. It was produced by Andrea Dyrness.