The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which brought an end to the Mexican American War of 1846-1848, marked its sesquicentennial on February 2, 1998. The signing of the Treaty and the U.S. annexation, by conquest, of the current Southwest signaled the beginning of decades of persistent, pervasive prejudice and discrimination against people of Mexican origin who reside in the United States. In this article, Guadalupe San Miguel and Richard Valencia provide a sweep through 150 years of Mexican American schooling in the Southwest. They focus on the educational "plight" (e.g., forced school segregation, curricular tracking), as well as the "struggle" (e.g., litigation) mounted by the Mexican American people in their quest for educational equality. The authors cover four major historical eras: 1) the origins of schooling for Mexican children in the "American" Southwest, 1848-1890s; 2) the expansion of Mexican American education, 1890-1930; 3) the changing character of public education, 1930-1960; and 4) the contemporary period. In their discussion they identify a number of major themes that characterize the education of Mexican Americans in the Southwest from the time of the Treaty up to the Hopwood
decision in Texas--the landmark case that gutted affirmative action in higher education. These include the exclusion and removal of the Mexican-origin community and its cultural heritage from the schools; the formation of the template (segregated, inferior schooling) for Mexican American education; the quest for educational equality; the continuing academic gap between Mexican American and Anglo or White students; and the impact of nativism on educational opportunity, as reflected most recently in the regressive and oppressive voter-initiated propositions in California and in the legal decisions in Texas. As such, Mexican Americans face an educational crisis of an unprecedented magnitude in the history of racial/ethnic minority education.
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