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

By Richard R. Valencia | Go to book overview

Preface

Economist Thomas Sowell wrote in his chapter on “The Mexicans” (Ethnic America: A History, 1981), “The goals and values of Mexican Americans have never centered on education [italics added]” (p. 266).1 Many other scholars and media figures have similarly asserted that Mexican American parents, particularly of low-socioeconomic status (SES) background, do not value education. The contention is that because the parents fail to inculcate this value in their children or demonstrate interest in helping the children with homework, Mexican American children tend to perform poorly in school (i.e., low academic achievement). These allegations cannot be taken lightly, as much evidence shows that when parents, of any ethnicity, become active participants in their children's education, they perform better in school.2,3

The myth persists that these parents are indifferent toward and devalue education. Valencia and Black (2002), for example, in the article “'Mexican Americans Don't Value Education!'—On the Basis of the Myth, Mythmaking, and Debunking,” noted that the fallacy has appeared in sources as varied as (a) early master's theses (e.g., Gould, 1932; Lyon, 1933; Taylor, 1927); (b) published scholarly literature (e.g., Frost & Hawkes, 1966; Hellmuth, 1967; Marans & Lourie, 1967; Sowell, 1981); and (c) newspaper articles and columns. An example of the latter is The University of Texas at Austin law professor Lino Graglia's statement at a press conference on September 10, 1997. At that time, Graglia was chosen as honorary cochairman of the newly established group, Students for Equal Opportunity —a group that was “tired of hearing only from supporters of affirmative action” (Roser, 1997, p. B1). At the campus press conference, where the new student group made its debut, Graglia stated,

The central problem is that Blacks and Mexican Americans are not aca-
demically competitive [with Whites].… Various studies seem to show
that Blacks [and] Mexican Americans spend less time in school. They

-xiii-

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

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Tables and Figures ix
  • Preface xiii
  • Acknowledgments xix
  • Introduction - Understanding and Analyzing Mexican American School Litigation 1
  • 1: School Segregation 7
  • 2: School Segregation 79
  • 3: Special Education 117
  • 4: Bilingual Education 153
  • 5: School Closures 198
  • 6: Undocumented Students 224
  • 7: Higher Education Financing 251
  • 8: High-Stakes Testing 268
  • Conclusion - The Contemporary and Future Status of Mexican American-Initiated School Litigation; What We Have Learned from This Legal History 306
  • Notes 321
  • References 401
  • Index 445
  • About the Author 484
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