Debates about Ethnic Studies in K-12 and Higher Education have highlighted the importance of culturally inclusive pedagogy in schools. Despite discussions about Ethnic Studies, there is a more extended history of Mexican-origin people pushing for culturally responsive education. In Reading, Writing, and Revolution: Escuelitas and the Emergence of a Mexican American Identity in Texas
(University of Texas Press, 2020), historian Philis M. Barragán-Goetz
argues that through cultural negotiation, escuelitas (community schools) shaped Mexican American identity and civil rights activism in the late 19th and early 20th century.
Barragán Goetz weaves in oral histories, government documents, newspapers, and archival sources to demonstrate the power in grassroots organizing for educational justice in Texas. She debunks a popular myth that Mexican Americans have not cared for education throughout history. Barragán Goetz writes that the progressive education movement in the late 19th century was not all that progressive if we examine the lived experienced of Mexican-origin people. Activists such as Idar Family, Villegas de Magnon, Maria Villarreal, Maria Renteria, and many involved in the two main Mexican American civil rights organizations of the time provided a foundation for Latina/os to be part of the fight for educational inclusion in the 20th century. Reading, Writing, and Revolution is not merely a book about educational history; it is a trailblazing study on how Mexican Americans have relied on any tools available to create a more inclusive educational system for themselves and their community.
Philis M. Barragán Goetz is an Assistant Professor of History at Texas A&M University - San Antonio. She earned her Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin. She can be found on Twitter: @philismaria
Tiffany Jasmin González, Ph.D. is the Postdoctoral Fellow in Women’s History at the Newcomb Institute of Tulane University. You can follow Tiffany on Twitter @T_J_Gonzalez