What Does It Mean When Your Teacher Changes Your Name?

Rethinking Schools

“Ayyy, I already told you, your name is too long! We don’t go by two names here and we don’t go by two last names. Pick a name. Maria or Edith. And as far as last names, you are Espinosa. We don’t use your mother’s last name. So what’s it going to be?”

When we put out the call for articles for Rethinking Bilingual Education, we received several personal stories from teachers who themselves felt the effects of linguistic discrimination when they were students. Edith Treviño was one of those teachers and wrote a short narrative for the book that underscores a complex reality for many children in our schools.

Treviño wrote about how, when she was in 5th grade, her teacher told her that her name wasn’t “American” enough, insisted she could only go by one last name, and forced her to choose — in front of…

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