COMMENT: Knocking on the Schoolhouse Door: Mendez v. Westminster, Equal Protection, Public Education, and Mexican Americans in the 1940's Skip over navigation
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Copyright (c) 1995 La Raza Law Journal 
La Raza Law Journal

COMMENT: Knocking on the Schoolhouse Door: Mendez v. Westminster, Equal Protection, Public Education, and Mexican Americans in the 1940's

Fall, 1995

8 La Raza L.J. 166

Author

Christopher Arriola +

Excerpt

INTRODUCTION
The problem with American schools has been not their lack of purpose but their continued commitment to purposes rooted in social inequality and its attendant culture. 1


When the United States invaded Mexico and annexed half of its territory in 1848, a process of domination and subordination was set in motion that relegated Mexican Americans 2 to the status of second-class citizens. Among the many principal American institutions that maintained a subordinate position for Mexican Americans, none were more effective than the public schools. This study of schools in Orange County, California, in particular the small town of El Modena, illustrates how institutions created or adapted by Anglos 3 structured inequality within a society stratified by race and class divisions. As reflections of the larger society, public schools provide an excellent example of how a southern California community at a local level instituted practices and policies of segregation and racial discrimination which continue to the present day.

The status quo, however, did not go unchallenged. Disgruntled Chicano parents began attacking the Orange County school systems that had been segregated for generations. The law suit they filed against several school districts resulted from grass roots community efforts to desegregate local schools. 5, traveled from then rural Orange County, all the way to the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco, where the court held that Mexican Americans could not be discriminated against on the basis of national origin; that in fact, segregation was a ...
 
 
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