Teaching a New Chapter of History: Educators Must Find Ways to Incorporate the Uniquely American Culture and History of Latinos into School Curricula

By Santiago, Maribel | Phi Delta Kappan, March 2013 | Go to article overview

Teaching a New Chapter of History: Educators Must Find Ways to Incorporate the Uniquely American Culture and History of Latinos into School Curricula


Santiago, Maribel, Phi Delta Kappan


When you hear "civil rights movement" you think about the African-American civil rights movement. ... I don't think that [Mexican-American history] is seen as part of the main historical narrative. ... I wanted students to connect to the material and feel that their history was being taught in the classroom. That's why I decided to teach Mendez.

-- Mr. Morado, 11th-grade U.S. history teacher

Mr. Morado, a teacher at a predominantly Latino school in California, is expressing a concern for many educators: How do I make history culturally relevant to my students? He's worried that students might not see people who look like them in the history curriculum. More important, he wants students to feel connected to what they're learning in class. Given that school curriculum and textbooks often omit Latinos (Garcia, 1980, 1993; Noboa, 2006), it's up to Morado to find a place for Latinos, specifically Mexican-Americans, in his U.S. history teaching. To do so, Morado included Mendez v. Westminster School District in his civil rights unit.

The Mendez segregation challenge began in 1945 when the family moved to Westminster in Southern California. The family tried to enroll their children at their local elementary school, but they were denied admission. The school told the Mendez children to register at the "Mexican school." What followed was a lawsuit against five Orange County school districts. After a two-year legal battle, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that since there was no state law mandating Mexican-American school segregation, the Mendez children could not be segregated. The court also legally recognized Mexican-Americans as racially white. As white, Mexican-Americans couldn't be segregated from other white students. Mendez didn't overturn any segregation policies; to the contrary, it actually reinforced segregation. Mendez left existing school segregation polices against Asian-Americans and Native Americans intact. Furthermore, Mexican-American children could still be segregated if they did not pass an English proficiency exam (Brilliant, 2010). School administrators thus continued to segregate Mexican-American children long after the case ended. "English proficiency" simply became another vehicle for justifying Mexican-American discrimination. But, later that year, California outlawed school segregation based on race.

While many educators have included Mendez in their curriculum on their own accord, only recently has California pushed for its inclusion into the classroom. After the state legislature's failed attempt in 2008 to pass a bill mandating the teaching of Mendez, the California State Board of Education included Mendez in its History-Social Science Framework in 2013 (Strum, 2010). The question now is how will Mendez included in history classrooms? How will California, where 51% of children are Hispanic (Ceasar, 2011), redress the exclusion of Latinos in its history curriculum?

To answer these questions, I observed Morado's 11th-grade U.S. History course while he taught the civil rights movements unit to a class of all Mexican-American and Mexican immigrant students. What I found after a month of observations and student interviews surprised me. Morado's students learned and discussed Mexican-American history as if it were an offshoot of African-American history. Mexican-American history was subsumed under the larger African-American civil rights story and stripped of its unique aspects. As a result, students learned an oversimplified version of Mexican-American discrimination and race. Morado and his students demonstrate that teachers and curriculum developers must be made aware in order to change the way we teach Mexican-American and Latino history in general.

Drawing parallels between Brown and Mendez

The instructional materials and class discussions constantly drew connections between Mendez and Brown v. Board of Education. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Teaching a New Chapter of History: Educators Must Find Ways to Incorporate the Uniquely American Culture and History of Latinos into School Curricula
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.