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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 3. Brown and Beyond

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Brown and beyond

Beware of false knowledge; it is more dangerous than ignorance.

George Bernard Shaw

It was the mid-twentieth century that signaled a new epoch for America. This was when middle-class America began to flourish like an episode from twilight zone. It was a calm period. It was a pleasant repose. It was a time of new prosperity. This was when everyone was going back to work. It was a Levittown period of serenity, when suburban America began growing by leaps and bounds once again. Everything was coming up roses after the war. Without doubt, everyone was seemingly settling down to raise a family, huddled around a new TV, sitting back and enjoying life. But Pleasantville was not without its challenges.

With conformism as the new culture, it was difficult for those that did not fit in, as “they” were coming from the “outside,” either the South or somewhere else. They were strangers much before neighbors. They did not belong with the entitled. They were not to become masters of the universe, and not all had served in the war. This was the time when Black families continued with their migration, with second-generation Mexican Americans coming up from the Southwest and Puerto Ricans flying from the island. All were reshuffling life, many into large cities, with the majority in barrios and a select few←91 | 92→ in the suburbs. Yet nearly all found it hard to rent, even...

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