Plessy to Brown: Education of Mexican Americans in Arizona public schools during the era of segregation
AuthorLucero, Herman Robert
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThis study provides an analysis of the historical events that shaped the public school education of Mexican American children in Arizona in the first half of the twentieth century. This study also examines how segregation was established in two cities in northern Arizona and how schooling affected the feelings and emotions of former students. From about 1900 to 1950 Mexican American children were required to attend segregated schools or were segregated in different classrooms even though there were no laws that mandated segregation. Segregation was established under the guise of providing special accommodations for Spanish-speakers. However, it was clear that the education policies of Arizona in the 1930s and 1940s were to prepare Mexican children for "Mexican" occupations. These educational programs had their roots in Americanization policies implemented earlier in the twentieth century. At the root of the Americanization policies in the Southwest was the notion that the Mexican immigrant was culturally inferior and could not be assimilated into the American mainstream until the Mexican culture and language were eradicated. Included in these policies were Mexican Americans, although they were United States citizens. Mexican children in school were publicly humiliated, physically and verbally abused for speaking Spanish on school grounds. The high school dropout rates for Mexican Americans in those years were very high. Mexican students were not encouraged to go to college by educators because they felt that the students did not have the mental skills to achieve academic success and because they did not need a higher education for the "Mexican" jobs they would be working. Most people are unaware of the extent of public school segregation of Mexican Americans in the state of Arizona. The public is generally aware of the segregation of African Americans in public schools and to some degree of the segregation of Native Americans in boarding schools. Segregation of Mexican Americans in the public schools is an important chapter in Arizona history that must be told to illustrate the struggle in the daily lives of past generations of Mexican Americans to overcome the numerous racial and discriminatory practices they experienced.
Degree ProgramGraduate College
Language, Reading & Culture