Latinos in the Struggle for Equal Education

Latinos in the Struggle for Equal Education

Bixler-Marquez, Dennis J

Latinos in the e for E sation. By James D. Cockcroft. New York: Franklin Watts, 1995. Pp. 192. $22.70 DENNIS J. BIXLER-MARQUEZ University of Texas at El Paso

In this volume, James D. Cockcroft chronicles the salient efforts of Hispanic communities, mainly Chicano and Puerto Rican, to attain educational equality in the nation. His historical assessment builds on, and overlaps with, the work of Gilbert Gonzalez, Chicano Education in the Era of Segregation ; Francesco Cordasco and Eugene Bucchioni, The Puerto Rican Community and Its Children on the Mainland; and Guadalupe San Miguel, Let All of Them Take Hk Mexican American Education and the Campaign for Educational Equality in The 1910, 1981, among other prominent publications on the education of specific Hispanic groups. Cockcroft examines Hispanic educational development along curricular, programmatic and political lines. In a Pan-Americanist approach that allows the reader to examine the similarities and differences between Hispanic groups, he covers the regions in the nation with the largest Hispanic populations: Texas, California, the New York metropolitan area, etc.

His early history of Hispanic education focuses on the Chicano’s experience in the Southwest. Issues covered include the lack of access to schools, including blatant discriminatory practices like segregated schools, the assimila tionist posture of the educational establishment, and the overall failure of American schools to educate Hispanics – a recurring theme in the aforementioned texts.

An important dimension of this tome is the legal challenge mounted against the educational establishment by Hispanic groups that strove to acquire the first class citizenship earned with their taxes and patriotic sacrifices, particularly after World War II, when Hispanic organizations such as ASPIRA, LULAC, and the Puerto Rican Forum began to use the courts to redress educational grievances. Salient events like the Lemon Grove incident in California and the achievements of pioneer Hispanic educators and activists like George Sanchez, Josefina Silva de Cintron, Luisa Moreno, Ernesto Galarza, Arthur Campa, and Josefina Escobar are featured.

In the era of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s and 1970s, Chicanos and Puerto Ricans strongly challenged American society and the effectiveness of the education received in its public and higher education institutions. The case of Crystal City, Texas, is an example of political change – brought about by the Raza Unida Party – that immediately targeted with great success Chicano educational grievances. Federal involvement by the Office of Civil Rights in educational research and policy issues, in the same eta, is appropriately ceco-eed as an important federal response to the demand for critical information with which to formulate Hispanic educational policy at the national, state and local levels. MALDEF, ASPIRA, the Young Lords Party, MEChA, Puerto Rican Lgl Defense Fund are some of the key Hispanic political orations whose pursuit of educational equality is discussed by Cockcroft

There is consensus that the 1980s, the famous “Decade of the Hispanic,” did not result in the massive social and political status gains for Hispanics that was prognosticated by Hispanic organizations, politicians and the media. Cockcroft, however, does recognize that significant research and publications on Hispanics, and increasingly by Hispanic began to appear in owing quantities. Major Hispanic publications, like El Grito, Aztlan, Revista Chicano-Riquena, Bulletin of the Centro de Estudios Puertoriquenos, were the cumulative intellectual fruits of higher education programs like Chicano Studies and Boricua Studies. These academic programs, established in the previous decades, were well established by the 1980s and continue to make significant scholarly and political contributions to the improvement of Hispanic education. It is gratifying to note that alternative educational institutions of higher education for Hispanics such as Universidad Boricua and the Hispanic University are discussed.

Two features differentiate this book from existing individual works on Chicano or Puerto Rican education, aside from the inclusion and comparison of Hispanic groups. The first is an analysis of the current backlash against Hispanics in the form of immigrant bashing, English only legislation, the IQ. wars, and the attacks on multiculturalism. The second differentiating feature is the delineation of educational policy issues Hispanics will have to face in the future, given current areas of achievement, national and regional demographics, and educational reform trends in the nation. For that purpose, inclusion of the data in Elizabeth Weiser Ramirez and Kimberly Linde’s “The State of Hispanic Education: Facing the Facts” and Eileen O’Brien’s Latinos in Higher would have been most useful for forecasting purposes.

This book provides an excellent historical perspective and current information on the stuggle for educational equality by the largest ethnic minority group in the United States.It is recommended for school personnel and policy formulators concerned with Hispanic groups

Copyright Center for Migration Studies Summer 1997

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