Nelson Flores began his career as an ESL teacher in Philadelphia and New York City public schools. Many of his students were categorized as “Long Term English Learners” who had been officially designated as English Learners for seven or more years. The disconnect between the deficit perspectives typically used to describe these students and the fluid bilingualism he observed them engaged in on a daily basis led him to pursue a Ph.D. in Urban Education from the Graduate Center of the City University of New York.
Dr. Flores has collaborated on several research projects focused on the education of language-minoritized students in U.S. schools, including a study of students officially categorized as “Long Term English Learners” and a study of successful high schools serving large numbers of Latinx students. He also served as project director for the CUNY–New York State Initiative on Emergent Bilinguals, a New York State Education Department initiative seeking to improve the educational outcomes of emergent bilingual students through an intensive seminar series for school leaders, combined with onsite support by CUNY faculty. His most recent collaboration has been with The Center on Standards, Alignment, Instruction, and Learning (C-SAIL), where he is studying the historical development of and contemporary implementation of standards-based reform for students officially classified as English Learners.
Dr. Flores was the recipient of the 2017 AERA Bilingual Education SIG Early Career Award, a 2017 Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship, and the 2019 James Atlas Prize for Research on Language Planning and Policy in Educational Contexts. He is also on several editorial boards including The International Journal of the Sociology of Language, Annual Review of Applied Linguistics, and Multilingua.
Research Interests and Current Projects
Dr. Flores examines the intersection of language, race, and the political economy in shaping U.S. educational policies and practices. He analyzes the historical origins of raciolinguistic ideologies that have framed the language practices of racialized communities as inherently deficient and in need of remediation. He also analyzes the ways that these raciolinguistic ideologies continue to be reproduced within contemporary bilingual education policies and practices.
Dr. Flores is currently working on a book project tentatively titled Becoming the System: A Raciolinguistic Genealogy of Bilingual Education in the Post-Civil Rights Era. This book has four major objectives: (1) to situate the institutionalization of bilingual education within broader political struggles emerging in the late 1960s related to community control of schools and other institutions, (2) to examine the ways that the professionalization of bilingual education divorced it from these broader political struggles, (3) to trace the ways that institutionalizing bilingual education was both a precursor to contemporary neoliberal education reforms and has been shaped by the growing hegemony of neoliberalism in education, and (4) to conceptualize an alternative framing of bilingual education that re-centers political struggles against White supremacy.
Dr. Flores is also the principal investigator of a longitudinal study of students in a dual language charter school in a predominately low-income Latinx area of Philadelphia. This project seeks to challenge deficit perspectives by documenting the complex linguistic practices these students engage in on a daily basis as part of their lived experience residing in a long-standing bilingual community and attending a bilingual school. The major objective of this project is to use insights from an analysis of these metalinguistic conversations to develop tools for bilingual teachers to more effectively build on their rich linguistic practices that their students bring into the classroom.
Ph.D. (Urban Education) The Graduate Center of the City University of New York, 2012
M.A. (Teaching English as a Second Language) Lehman College, 2007
B.A. (Political Science & Education) Swarthmore College, 2003
Areas of Expertise
Language education policy
Race and racialization