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The Story of Latinos and Education in American History


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 6. Contemporary Issues



Contemporary Issues

Discontent is the first step in the progress of a man or a nation.

Oscar Wilde

A host of issues have been discussed throughout the previous chapters, but several in particular need to be strongly highlighted. While many are ongoing, several important issues have been lingering since the mid-sixties and need to be tackled more strongly and rather directly. Several pertain to court cases, while others are more specific to particular trends among K–12 public schools as well as for higher education. Quite specifically, this chapter aims to review school funding, English language acquisition, higher education, and several other topics that are urgent for Latinos.

School Funding

One of the most lopsided conditions that has faced Black and Latino students throughout the past century has been disproportionate funding allocation, as fiscal allocation highly correlates with student outcomes. Resource-rich districts continually outperform resource-poor districts, regardless of achievement measure.1 Most ashamedly, our country continues←189 | 190→ to have wider inequities in school funding and allocation than nearly any other industrialized nation. The processes and formulas being used today are remnants of more than a century ago. It is time such formulaic unevenness is stopped and brought to the reality of today’s imbalance among schools.

For school funding, multiple decisions have been adjudicated that indicate the level of inequity in our schools such as San Antonio ISD v. Rodríguez (1973), where Latino parents sued...

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