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The Story of Latinos and Education in American History

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Abdin Noboa-Rios

The 2014–2015 academic year marked the first year that American, preK–12 public school enrollment became majority nonwhite, with Hispanic/Latino as the largest minority. Population shifts have continued to occur, with Latinos now representing 28% of public school students.

American public schools are in trouble, with national achievement reaching new lows and progress for nearly two-thirds of all 4th and 8th graders below proficiency levels and stagnant for years. According to the Nation’s Report Card, students of color rank lowest, with Latinos and African Americans consistently at the bottom.

To understand the history of Latinos in particular, The Story of Latinos and Education in American History goes back in time to recreate the story. In this book, Dr. Noboa-Ríos relates the dark legacy before and after Plessy, as well as the post-Brown challenges that linger. For a better and more balanced future for the nation, America’s challenge is to ensure that Latino students excel. Understanding how and why this dark history has occurred is imperative to rectify the situation.

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Chapter 2. Dual Systems of Education

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Dual Systems of Education

Since when do you have to agree with people to defend them from injustice?

Lillian Hellman

In tracking the growth of the country after emancipation, where some four million Blacks shed chains of slavery, it appeared like the entire nation had been liberated. But such was not fully the case. Reconstruction was too brief. Much was left uncompleted. It was insufficient to enter mainstream society. Education was highly unresolved for Blacks. Also, the promise of forty acres and a mule for the protection from abuse to former captives had become mythical as it was rescinded by President Andrew Johnson, Lincoln’s successor, in the fall of 1865.

Meantime, illiteracy was rampant and education hard to find. For Blacks, there literally was no education, as it was a new construct for most Blacks. Adequate systems were not in place. As systems started developing, the idea of same schools for children of different races was anathema, intolerable. Dual systems had to be constructed as Blacks could not enter White schools.

As it turned out, many new freedmen and women were figuratively re-enslaved as sharecroppers. Many were trapped by an unfair peonage system that Congress had to outlaw in 1876, and then again several times outlawed by the courts. In order to maintain an inexpensive and controlled labor source,←51 | 52→ Southern states after Reconstruction enacted a variety of laws restricting the mobility of Black labor in...

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