Chicano Studies Final Exam

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Before coming to this class I could see and feel that the world around me was changing but was unaware of the significance or reasons behind the change. The Spanish language is becoming more and more a part of the American culture which can be seen in job postings all across the country indicating that bilingual is a plus. The eye opener for me is that the inevitable appears to be happening despite the fact that it has taken 162 years from the culmination of the US Mexico war, this nation of people who appear to have been bamboozled are now reclaiming their territory both legally and illegally. Prior to this class I did not fully understand the impact that immigration has on the US, which is not just economic or educational but historical as well. Assimilation into the mainstream US culture is not happening but instead Mexican and other Latino immigrants are forming political and linguistic communities in the west, south, and northeastern parts of the US. As of the year 2000 Hispanic populations have risen at such rapid rates that they have now become the largest minority population in the United States. With that said, the Hispanic population has an opportunity to do what no other immigrant group in history has ever done: challenge the current cultural, political, legal, and educational systems of the U.S. When you consider that Hispanics have the highest fertility rates and the youngest population of people when compared to whites and other minority groups it becomes apparent that Hispanic immigration is tremendously impacting the U.S. education system. “In major cities such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, New York, and Miami, where bicultural students comprise from 70 to 90 percent of the student population, dropout rates of 50 percent and greater are the norm” (Darder, 1). So the question now becomes; what is the cause of this underachievement? Darder points out in her article, The Problem with Traditional American Pedagogy and Practice, that one of the most persistent arguments regarding underachievement among minority students is that of nature vs. nurture. Those who see the problem as a result of nature believe that underachievement is simply a matter of a deficit in genetic traits. Nurture advocates, on the other hand, see the issue of underachievement as a result of the environment in which these students live and are raised, readily pointing to the cycle of poverty, cultural deprivation, and the child’s underprivileged status. The problem with both of these perspectives is that they both place the blame of underachievement on the student and not the system itself. As a result, Hispanic students are feeling isolated, lonely, and alienated within the current U.S. educational system. Even though some Hispanic students have achieved success, most have not. Consequently, we are creating an under-class of people which can eventually lead to social and economic unrest. I think at this point it is necessary to mention that I grew up in a border city that was predominately Hispanic and therefore was completely oblivious to the notion that Hispanics have ever endured any form of racism or discrimination. It was especially surprising to me to find out that this “utopian” society that I experienced was not always that way. To learn that Mexican American children were asked to not attend school here in El Paso because they could not speak English was nothing that I would have ever entertained as possible. According to Dr. Ortega the atmosphere between Anglos and Mexicans in El Paso was peaceful up until 1870. It was in 1870 that the state of Texas passed a law that mandated all classroom instruction be conducted solely in English. Prior to the passing of this law all schools in El Paso were bilingual in the classroom. There were a number of students whose English was not so good and it was decided that separate schools would need to be created. In 1883, EPISD opened its doors for the...
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