Much of the history of Mexican American educational reform efforts has focused on campaigns to eliminate discrimination in public schools. However, as historian Guadalupe San Miguel demonstrates in Chicana/o Struggles for Education: Activisim in the Community, the story is much broader and more varied than that.
While activists certainly challenged discrimination, they also worked for specific public school reforms and sought private schooling opportunities, utilizing new patterns of contestation and advocacy. In documenting and reviewing these additional strategies, San Miguel’s nuanced overview and analysis offers enhanced insight into the quest for equal educational opportunity to new generations of students.
San Miguel addresses questions such as what factors led to change in the 1960s and in later years; who the individuals and organizations were that led the movements in this period and what motivated them to get involved; and what strategies were pursued, how they were chosen, and how successful they were. He argues that while Chicana/o activists continued to challenge school segregation in the 1960s as earlier generations had, they broadened their efforts to address new concerns such as school funding, testing, English-only curricula, the exclusion of undocumented immigrants, and school closings. They also advocated cultural pride and memory, inclusion of the Mexican American community in school governance, and opportunities to seek educational excellence in private religious, nationalist, and secular schools.
The profusion of strategies has not erased patterns of de facto segregation and unequal academic achievement, San Miguel concludes, but it has played a key role in expanding educational opportunities. The actions he describes have expanded, extended, and diversified the historic struggle for Mexican American education.
What Readers Are Saying:
"This book is well researched and written. It is a unique and valuable contribution to the field that offers a detailed account of long-term changes achieved through litigation, legislative action, and other forms of advocacy. As such, it will be useful to scholars and also accessible to a student audience."--Edwina Barvosa, Associate Professor of Chicana/o Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara
“This is an eloquent and thoughtful book that provides a rich history of the multiple and complex strategies Mexican Americans used to improve the educational opportunities of their children from 1960 to 2010. San Miguel documents how those who were involved in these efforts intensified the struggle that earlier activist had initiated. This is a readable, intelligent, and important historical narrative of Mexican American activism.”—Rubén Donato, University of Colorado at Boulder
"Like his pioneering work, Let All of Them Take Heed, Guadalupe San Miguel’s Chicana/o Struggles for Education is destined to become a standard. Tapping into a massive bibliography of sources that includes court cases, legislative acts, policy reports, and numerous secondary works, San Miguel documents the strategies Mexican American activists used since the 1960s to challenge entrenched schoolroom practices; chronicles the campaigns Mexican Americans launched to implement curricula relevant to the Mexican American experience; and details Chicana/o efforts to found alternative schools that used innovative methods designed to produce Mexican American success. Chicana/o Struggles for Education is a master tome by the recognized authority on Mexican American historical struggles to achieve educational equity."--Arnoldo DeLeón, professor of history, Angelo State University
“San Miguel Jr., renowned historian of Mexican culture and education, brilliantly demonstrates how Mexican Americans’ insistence upon equitable education persisted in different forms beyond the post-activist era of the 1960s and 1970s. Through detailed documentation and persuasive argumentation, San Miguel Jr. expands the narrative of Mexican American agency and collective action through his extension of educational history from pre-school through higher education. Inclusion of the lesser-known role of private secular and religious schools as forms of resistance accurately broadens our historical lens. In Chicana/o Struggles for Education we learn how activists creatively adapted strategies in response to the modern era’s shifting political and economic contexts. New tactics and victories in judicial decisions and congressional legislation during the late twentieth century nonetheless represented continuity in the powerful and enduring stance of Mexican communities to preserve core cultural values and language without sacrificing excellence and quality in education. Historians, policymakers, teachers, students, community leaders, and all individuals who seek to understand the tension between our country’s democratic commitment to public education as a vehicle of social equity and mobility in relation to the Mexican American community must read this invaluable history.”--Victoria-María MacDonald, author, Latino Education in the United States, 1513-2000, and Assistant Professor in the Department of Teaching, Learning, Policy and Leadership, University of Maryland College Park
"A lot can be learned from this book about social movement politics, education policy, and the struggle to assert local control over the education of Mexican American children." -- New Books in Political Science
"Chicana/o Struggles for Education will stand as a pioneering work in the historiography of Mexican-American educational history."—Southwestern Historical Quarterly
"Chicana/o Struggles for Education: Activism in the Community is an excellent synthesis of Chicana/o efforts to obtain quality education in the United States. As a leading scholar in the field, San Miguel has collected an impressive amount of literature on the subject of Chicana/o education. His real contribution is that he has managed to chronicle it all in a single text that is both coherent and manageable. It is well documented, and the citations are extremely valuable, as are the tables that appear throughout the book." — Journal of Southern History