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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.

“In this detailed and thought-provoking book, Dr. Noboa-Ríos offers a unique perspective on the historical barriers within our educational system and an insightful chronicling of the struggles faced by Latinos across the country.” Eduardo Padrón, President, Miami-Dade Community College

“Abdin Noboa-Ríos’s story is a bold exploration of a topic that resonates ever more loudly in American higher education. It constitutes a comprehensive examination of the subject. His observations are incisive and on the mark.” Arturo Madrid, Murchison Distinguished Professor Emeritus of the Humanities, Trinity University

“Dr. Noboa-Ríos’s panoramic detailing of Latino education history provides a niche for placing our episodic recollections of the events we lived through or read about. That context augments our understanding of current realities and provides reasons to hope we will, at last, be able to change the course of the trajectory.” Rosa Castro Feinberg, retired faculty, Florida International University; former member of the Miami-Dade School Board

“In a much needed and long-awaited book, Dr. Noboa-Ríos has interwoven the most comprehensive tapestry of the Latino American quest to navigate success in American society. A historical gem, certain to become the standard work in its field for many years to come.” Rosita López, Professor Emerita in Educational Leadership, Northern Illinois University

“Dr. Noboa-Ríos provides a rare glimpse of 200-plus years of the Latino educational experience in the U.S.A. in contrast to the White, Black, and Native American. Throughout early U.S. history, from the Wild West, to the Southwest, the plantation South, and the industrial North, Latinos have been part of the fabric of this country but mostly as silent partners, often neglected, dismissed, and marginalized. Dr. Noboa-Ríos expertly chronicles this story in this unique book.” Ricardo Medina, former school superintendent

“The author demonstrates a passionate and practical approach to develop an understanding of Latino educational challenges and assets. Dr. Noboa-Ríos provides a comprehensive and useful tool with unique insights to achieve educational success for the future of Latinos and America. The author articulates an explicit rationale which emphasizes the urgency of his findings with a call to action. He communicates the depth and breadth of his topic in a powerful manner.” Carlos Azcoitia, professor emeritus, Educational Leadership Program, National Louis University

“Not simply the story of Latinx in U.S. education, Noboa-Ríos tells a rather more comprehensive story of public education with a focus on various Latinx groups, particularly Mexicans and Puerto Ricans. This valuable history will put into perspective the complex, flawed, aspirational but nonetheless segregated, racialized, unequal, and inequitable education of Latinx students in our public schools. It will also put to rest the conventional wisdom that Latinx students in U.S. public schools are a recent or new phenomenon. This book should be required reading for teachers, administrators, teacher educators, and policymakers responsible for the education of Latinx students.” Sonia Nieto, professor emerita, College of Education, University of Massachusetts at Amherst

“Throughout US history, Latinos have been marginalized and discriminated against. Not surprisingly, the experiences of Latinos, particularly in education, have been obscured and rendered largely invisible. In this important new book, Dr. Noboa-Ríos begins the process of excavating that history, drawing attention to the many ways in which schools have been used to maintain the subordination of Latinos in American society. As the Latino population grows and as its influence increases, understanding this history will be essential for creating a better future. This book will serve as an important step toward ensuring that the past is not repeated and that the future for Latinos in education is better and more promising than the past.” Pedro A. Noguera, Distinguished Professor of Education, UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies

“This book is not easy to read because it is so packed with useful but frequently ignored information. At the same time, it is essential reading precisely for the same reason, as it is packed with useful and frequently ignored information. Pro-educational change agents must read Dr. Noboa-Ríos’s work. Understanding why schools continue to fail US Hispanic students and to learn how they can excel is a must for today’s educator. Practitioners must listen to and learn from the most informed voices of the nation to change tragic and shameful outcomes for Latinos. Advocates, policymakers, school of education professionals, and educators at all levels now have access to an indispensable resource for transformational leadership.” Samuel Betances, author of Winning the Future through Education: One Step at a Time

The Story of Latinos and Education is one of the most comprehensive, compelling, and passionate analyses of the education of Latinos in America, inextricably linking the persistent disparity in the education of Latinos to the long history of racial and social segregation, division, and inequality that remains to this day.” Ron Blackburn Moreno, National Executive Director, Aspira Association