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Chicano Students and the Courts

Chicano Students and the Courts: The Mexican American Legal Struggle for Educational Equality

Richard R. Valencia
Copyright Date: 2008
Published by: NYU Press
Pages: 508
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  • Book Info
    Chicano Students and the Courts
    Book Description:

    In 1925 Adolfo 'Babe' Romo, a Mexican American rancher in Tempe, Arizona, filed suit against his school district on behalf of his four young children, who were forced to attend a markedly low-quality segregated school, and won. But Romo v. Laird was just the beginning. Some sources rank Mexican Americans as one of the most poorly educated ethnic groups in the United States. Chicano Students and the Courts is a comprehensive look at this community's long-standing legal struggle for better schools and educational equality. Through the lens of critical race theory, Valencia details why and how Mexican American parents and their children have been forced to resort to legal action.Chicano Students and the Courts engages the many areas that have spurred Mexican Americans to legal battle, including school segregation, financing, special education, bilingual education, school closures, undocumented students, higher education financing, and high-stakes testing, ultimately situating these legal efforts in the broader scope of the Mexican American community's overall struggle for the right to an equal education. Extensively researched, and written by an author with firsthand experience in the courtroom as an expert witness in Mexican American education cases, this volume is the first to provide an in-depth understanding of the intersection of litigation and education vis-a-vis Mexican Americans.

    eISBN: 978-0-8147-2404-0
    Subjects: Law

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Tables and Figures
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Preface
    (pp. xiii-xviii)
  5. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xix-xx)
  6. Introduction: Understanding and Analyzing Mexican American School Litigation
    (pp. 1-6)

    Beginning with theRomo v. Laird(1925) school desegregation lawsuit in Arizona, for more than eight decades Mexican Americans have been engaged in a hard-fought legal struggle for educational equality.¹ Yet few scholars are aware of this long-standing struggle. Contributing, in part, to this unawareness is Mexican Americans’ exclusion from much of the scholarship on civil rights history. Law professor Juan Perea (1997) has asserted that American racial thought incorporates an implicit “Black/White binary paradigm of race,” which excludes Mexican Americans, “distorts history, and contributes to the marginalization of non-Black peoples of color” (p. 1213).² This binary has evolved to...

  7. 1 School Segregation
    (pp. 7-78)

    The early forced segregation of Mexican American students became the crucible in which school failure of these children and youths originated and intensified.¹ The intentional separation of Mexican American students from their White peers in public schools began in the post-1848 decades following the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. The signing of the treaty and the U.S. annexation, by conquest, of the current Southwest signaled the beginning of decades of persistent, pervasive prejudice and discrimination against people of Mexican origin who reside in the United States (Acuña, 2007; Perea, 2003). Subsequently, racial isolation of schoolchildren became a normative practice in the...

  8. 2 School Financing
    (pp. 79-116)

    The schooling process represents one of the most influential agencies of socialization in the lives of children and youths. Yet, as adults, few of us realize the enormous size of this “big business.” Formal education employs more people than any other business in the United States (Brimley & Garfield, 2005) and is very costly. Expenditures for public elementary and secondary schools totaled $472.3 billion in fiscal year 2003—2004 (U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, 2006). The cost of education is also escalating due to, for example, increasing enrollment, inflation, and the high cost of energy (Brimley &...

  9. 3 Special Education
    (pp. 117-152)

    According to the most recent report from the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs (2002), in the 2000–2001 school year, approximately 12.7% (n= 6.1 million) of the country’s 47.8 million pre-K to grade 12 public school children (ages three to seventeen) were enrolled in special education programs in the fifty states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.¹ Students in special education (e.g., classified as having mild mental retardation or specific learning disability) perform below the norm on cognitive tests and other measures to such an extent that special intervention is necessary. Notwithstanding its importance in...

  10. 4 Bilingual Education
    (pp. 153-197)

    The United States of America has been and continues to be a polyglot nation. Even before the arrival of European explorers, the indigenous people spoke more than five hundred languages in the geographic area presently known as North America (Lawerence, 1978). During the American Colonial period, linguistic diversity flourished, as seen in the many languages spoken (e.g., English, French, German, Finnish, Swedish, Polish, and Dutch; see Castellanos, 1985). Being bi– or multilingual during this period had clear advantages:

    Because of the many nationalities represented in Anglo America, as well as the many Indian nations that existed here, knowledge of two...

  11. 5 School Closures
    (pp. 198-223)

    Four decades ago, many individuals hailed education in the United States as the new growth industry.¹ In the late 1960s and early 1970s, however, declining enrollments caught the K–12 educational system by surprise (Boyd, 1982; also, see Abramowitz & Rosenfeld, 1978). A decline in the birthrate (overwhelmingly among the White population) and an aging population meant fewer students enrolled in public schools. Adverse economic conditions (e.g., rising inflation) and a mounting societal dissatisfaction with levels of student achievement in the schools resulted in an erosion of public support and a diminished willingness to invest in education, particularly in a...

  12. 6 Undocumented Students
    (pp. 224-250)

    On April 10, 2006, nearly two million people (mostly Latino) marched in seventy cities across the United States, protesting the restrictive immigration bills before Congress (Mangaliman, Rodriguez, & Gonzales, 2006). The current “immigration crisis” (López, 2005) reflects the historical vicissitudes of America’s hostile attitudes and policies toward immigrants, especially the undocumented (Brinkley, 1993; Green, 2003; López, 2005).

    Anti-immigration sentiment also characterized the 1970s, with calls to reestablish immigration exclusion (Green, 2003). The severe inflation that gripped the decade likely triggered these emotions (DeLong, 1995).¹ As the scapegoating theory of prejudice would predict (Schaefer, 2002), immigration exclusionists blamed undocumented people for...

  13. 7 Higher Education Financing
    (pp. 251-267)

    The legal category of higher education financing significantly departs from the other groupings, withhigher educationas the target educational level. In 1990, Mexican Americans living in the “Border Region” of South Texas filedLULAC v. Clements, complaining that although 20% of all Texans reside there, the region only receives 10% of the state’s higher education funds.¹ Although plaintiff s did not prevail, the attention generated by the case prompted the Texas Legislature to provide a considerable amount of funding to a number of targeted universities in the Border Region.

    This chapter is structured as follows: (a) Mexican Americans’ limited...

  14. 8 High-Stakes Testing
    (pp. 268-305)

    Currently, an educational reform movement is sweeping across K–12 public education in the United States, affecting millions of schoolchildren and youths.¹ This collective, pervasive, and top-down course of action—which I refer to as the “standards-based school reform movement” —holds students, educators, and administrators accountable for reaching specific benchmarks (e.g., minimum test performance by students on state-mandated tests). This movement has its roots in the 1983 volumeA Nation at Risk(National Commission on Excellence in Education, 1983), produced by a commission appointed by Terrell H. Bell, Secretary of Education in the Reagan Administration. In its highly critical observations...

  15. Conclusion: The Contemporary and Future Status of Mexican American–Initiated School Litigation; What We Have Learned from This Legal History
    (pp. 306-320)

    In this final chapter, I offer some thoughts on the contemporary and future status of school litigation brought forth by the Mexican American community. First, I discuss two lawsuits that have been recently litigated. My coverage is brief because the cases may be appealed. Second, I speculate on the types of educational lawsuits Mexican Americans may file in the very near future. I close the chapter by reflecting on what we have learned from this legal history, particularly regarding race and education in the United States.

    The Mexican American—initiated school litigation covered in this book ranges over more than...

  16. Notes
    (pp. 321-400)
  17. References
    (pp. 401-444)
  18. Index
    (pp. 445-483)
  19. About the Author
    (pp. 484-484)