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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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Epilogue: Learning from History



Learning from History

A different world cannot be built by indifferent people.

Horace Mann

Many lessons come to mind in condensing the recent review of American education and Latinos. As we take stock, let’s pause for a moment to reflect why this is so extremely important. Looking back, I recall once listening to an obituary delivered by President Kennedy about an iconic American folk artist and how it was possible for her to achieve such success in this country, the land of the free. It was an inspiring story and one that excited many in our neighborhood, including several artists among us.

As revealed, it was from deep in the farmlands of northern New York State bordering Vermont that profound words were uttered by a legendary and centenarian artist known as Grandma Moses. Born at the time of the Civil War, she eventually became an icon. So important was her desire to paint that she began in earnest at the ripe age of 73. She later claimed she did not have needed time to fully paint until age 78. Her vision of the world is what many of us aspire, as she was the gospel of tranquility, happiness, and much wisdom. In this spirit she once proudly proclaimed with great satisfaction, “Life is what we make of it, always has been, always will be.” True enough, as the phrase has resonated in my mind’s eye ever since. But is...

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