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

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

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

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

Synopsis

Choice Magazine Outstanding Academic Titles 2005 Winner

Amidst the vast array of literature on the First Amendment, it is rare to hear a fresh voice speak about the First Amendment, but in Truth, Autonomy, and Speech , Susan H. Williams presents a strikingly original interpretation and defense of the First Amendment, written from a feminist perspective. Drawing on work from several disciplines- including law, political theory, philosophy, and anthropology- the book develops alternative accounts of truth and autonomy as the foundations for freedom of expression. Building on feminist understandings of self and the social world, Williams argues that both truth and autonomy are fundamentally relational.

With great clarity and insight, Williams demonstrates that speech is the means by which we create rather than discover truth and the primary mechanism through which we tell the stories that constitute our autonomy. She examines several controversial issues in the law of free speech- including campaign finance reform, the public forum doctrine, and symbolic speech- and concludes that the legal doctrine through which we interpret and apply the First Amendment should be organized to protect speech that serves the purposes of truth and autonomy.

Excerpt

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). 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.

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 . . .

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