Chicana/o Struggles for Education
Activism in the Community
Publication Year: 2013
Much of the history of Mexican American educational reform efforts has focused on campaigns to eliminate discrimination in public schools. However, as historian Guadalupe San Miguel demonstrates in Chicana/o Struggles for Education: Activisim in the Community, the story is much broader and more varied than that.
While activists certainly challenged discrimination, they also worked for specific public school reforms and sought private schooling opportunities, utilizing new patterns of contestation and advocacy. In documenting and reviewing these additional strategies, San Miguel’s nuanced overview and analysis offers enhanced insight into the quest for equal educational opportunity to new generations of students.
San Miguel addresses questions such as what factors led to change in the 1960s and in later years; who the individuals and organizations were that led the movements in this period and what motivated them to get involved; and what strategies were pursued, how they were chosen, and how successful they were. He argues that while Chicana/o activists continued to challenge school segregation in the 1960s as earlier generations had, they broadened their efforts to address new concerns such as school funding, testing, English-only curricula, the exclusion of undocumented immigrants, and school closings. They also advocated cultural pride and memory, inclusion of the Mexican American community in school governance, and opportunities to seek educational excellence in private religious, nationalist, and secular schools.
The profusion of strategies has not erased patterns of de facto segregation and unequal academic achievement, San Miguel concludes, but it has played a key role in expanding educational opportunities. The actions he describes have expanded, extended, and diversified the historic struggle for Mexican American education.
Published by: Texas A&M University Press
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...I would like to thank the University of Houston history department, the Center for Mexican American Studies, and the University of Houston administration for giving me both the necessary funds to conduct the much-needed research for this project and for providing me with the opportunity to write up the results. Thanks also to all the graduate students who influenced my thinking on many of the issues dealt with in the book. Of particular importance are..
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...For over a hundred years, Mexican Americans have contested the limited and inferior educational opportunities public school officials have offered them. For most of the twentieth century, however, history books have failed to document these efforts. Not until the 1970s did historians begin to seriously record the community’s struggles for educational equality. The process of discovering and documenting Mexican American activism in education was part of a larger revisionist trend in US social and ethnic history that began a decade earlier...
1. Changing Patterns of Mexican American Education
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...Between 1900 and 1960, school officials provided Mexican Americans with limited, substandard, and inferior public educational opportunities because of their subordinate status in the society and their cultural and linguistic characteristics. Those in power made sure that the adult members of the Mexican American community were structurally excluded from influential positions in public education and denied or discouraged from participating in the shaping of public school systems and their content...
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...During the post-1960 years, ethnic Mexican responses to educational inequality intensified and diversified. In the first half of the twentieth century, activists engaged in a variety of actions aimed at contesting the exclusionary, discriminatory, and subtractive character of American public school systems. These actions challenged the many ways in which school systems excluded Mexican origin individuals from positions of power, mistreated them on the basis of race and ethnicity, and sought to stamp out or “subtract” their cultural identity...
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...The quest for education was not only about eliminating discrimination in the schools. It was also one of assertive advocacy. Mexican Americans wanted schools that were free from discrimination, that reflected their communities and their cultural heritage, and that met their academic needs and political interests. The struggles on behalf of power, access, quality instruction, and pluralism reflected these desires...
4. Advocating for Quality Instruction
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...Despite the diversity of curricular struggles, the dominant one revolved around bilingual education. This curricular innovation was supported for various reasons. It was viewed as the most important means for bringing about significant change in the education of Mexican origin children. It united all educators around several central themes in their education, especially language and culture. It also addressed the children’s linguistic, cultural, and academic concerns. For these and other reasons, the quest for access to a rigorous curriculum through quality bilingual education intensified over time...
5. Beyond Public Education
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...Most people assume that the quest for education focused solely on public schools, but this is historically incorrect. Mexican Americans also sought instruction from religious authorities and private organizations or else they established their own schools. This long-standing tradition of seeking religious and alternative forms of education continued in the post-1960 years. Although a variety of private schools have been supported or established by Mexican Americans since the 1960s, little if any...
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...In this concluding section I will summarize my arguments and then briefly discuss a few lessons learned from this study. This study examined the Mexican American quest for education in the years from 1960 to the present. It asked several important questions about those involved in school reform efforts and the factors impacting their decisions. Who were the individuals and organizations that led these struggles for education in this period and what motivated them to get involved...
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Page Count: 256
Illustrations: 19 b&w photos. 11 tables. Bib. Index.
Publication Year: 2013
Series Title: University of Houston Series in Mexican American Studies, Sponsored by the Center for Mexican American Studies