The Strange Career of Bilingual Education in Texas, 1836-1981
Texas History - Education - Western History
6.125 x 9.25, 216 pp.
17 b&w photos.
Pub Date: 01/23/2007
Fronteras Series, sponsored by Texas A&M International University
Price:        $19.95 s


Published by Texas A&M University Press

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Awarded the Texas State Historical Association Coral Horton Tullis Memorial Prize; presented March 2005

The Strange Career of Bilingual Education in Texas, 1836-1981

By Carlos Kevin Blanton

Despite controversies over current educational practices, Texas boasts a rich and vibrant bilingual tradition—and not just for Spanish-English instruction, but for Czech, German, Polish, and Dutch as well. Throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Texas educational policymakers embraced, ignored, rejected, outlawed, then once again embraced this tradition.

In The Strange Career of Bilingual Education in Texas, author Carlos Blanton traces the educational policies and their underlying rationales, from Stephen F. Austin’s proposal in the 1830s to “Mexicanize” Anglo children by teaching them Spanish along with English and French, through the 1981 passage of the most encompassing bilingual education law in the state’s history. Blanton draws on primary materials, such as the handwritten records of county administrators and the minutes of state education meetings, and presents the Texas experience in light of national trends and movements, such as Progressive Education, the Americanization Movement, and the Good Neighbor Movement.

By tracing the many changes that eventually led to the re-establishment of bilingual education in its modern form in the 1960s and the 1981 passage of a landmark state law, Blanton reconnects Texas with its bilingual past.

CARLOS KEVIN BLANTON, an assistant professor of history at Texas A&M University, earned his Ph.D. from Rice University. His research in Mexican American educational history has been published in journals such as the Pacific Historical Review and Social Science Quarterly.

What Readers Are Saying:

“A masterful work. The author’s writing style is superb. This one is a trailblazer and will be useful for anyone with an interest in Mexican American education, history, and sociology.” --Arnoldo De Leon, Angelo State University

“This is a brilliant piece of scholarship. I applaud Carlos K. Blanton for providing a moving and thought-provoking account of Texas’ ‘bilingual tradition.’ Blanton unearths the very important historic tension between assimilation and ethnic maintenance of local cultures. For all immigrant groups, bilingual classroom instruction was a crucial tool for successful incorporation. Against this backdrop, it is tragic to see how shifts in policy and practice– cloaked in the language of efficiency and rationality– worked to diminish local cultures. Blanton urges us to engage this past so that it may serve as a guidepost to Texas’ ever multi-cultural future.” --Angela Valenzuela, University of Texas–Austin

“Carlos Blanton offers an excellent historical account of the vicissitudes of bilingual education in Texas from the inception of the Republic of Texas to the passage of the 1981 Texas statute still in effect. Blanton’s book epitomizes historical scholarship. The book is an excellent research tool.” --Texas Books in Review

“This book is a must read for anyone who thinks the best way to teach (and help) non-English speaking children is to immerse them in English and prohibit teachers form teaching them in their native language.” --Choice

“Carlos Kevin Blanton has given us a good reminder of how important it is to establish the historical context of education policy as an essential part of the ongoing debate.” --Journal of South Texas

“He nicely ties bilingual education to local control and his description of the development of early Texas educational history is commendable. The book has a wide audience and readers will benefit from Blanton’s thorough research.” --East Texas Historical Journal

“Blanton has provided a major service to historians for language policy by providing a framework of the major developments in Texan bilingual education and by linking these to key national trends.” --Journal of American Ethnic History

“Blanton’s combination of engagement and detachment, his attentiveness to counter-evidence, his graceful writing style, and the brilliant way in which he draws out the big lessons of his narrative mark him out as an absolutely first-rate historian.” --The Journal of American History

“This is a wonderful book with many fascinating details and insights on the evolution of bilingual education policy and practice in Texas. It adds significantly to the existing historiography on language policy in education, on ethnicity in American education, and on the plight of Latino students in the schools.” --Southwestern Historical Quarterly

“Well-researched and written, the book is also richly illustrated with rare archival photographs...Blanton’s (2004) outstanding book is an exemplary historiography of language and education and will be of interest to all concerned with the rise and falls of bilingual education in the USA, with the origins of the current field of English as a Second Language, and with ways in which language ideologies shape language and education policies and curricula.” --The International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism

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