Things That Matter

Latino Students Are Being Put Into School With Fewer White Students And That Often Means Schools With Fewer Resources

If you’ve been paying attention to the Democratic debates, you might be feeling some type of way about CNN’s repeated taking to task of Vice President Joe Biden for voting against busing to desegregate public schools in the 1970s. Some feel frustrated to hear this issue be brought up. One Twitter user lamented. “Good grief. Enough about busing. Focus people. We have a corrupt, racist criminal in the White House. Stop helping him.”

Meanwhile, Latinx journalists like Yamiche Alcindor are wondering out loud, “Why are we talking about busing 50 years ago when schools are segregated today? We need a conversation about what is happening now.” The research from three universities definitively conclude that Latino students in California public schools are more racially segregated from white peers than any other state. In fact, it’s only “intensifying.”

Last week, University of California Berkley released a study that concluded that, nationwide, Latino children are likely to enter elementary schools with fewer white peers than a generation ago.

@educationweek / Twitter

The definition of segregation in the case of the study isn’t by individual race or ethnicity, but rather by the obvious educational and funding benefits that white students receive over black and brown students. The authors of the research report that this matters because “”racially segregating students of color … often corresponds with unfair financing of schools, regressive allocation of quality teachers and culturally limited curricula.” It benefits minority students to be integrated with a white majority (read: better funded) school. 

In 1998, the average Latino student in elementary school found themselves in a student body where 40% of the students were white. By 2015, that number dropped to 30%, even though the population of Latinos in this country has skyrocketed.

The numbers just become drastically worse in urban areas.

@FDCSD / Twitter

Again, the problem isn’t inherent in a black and brown student body. It’s systematic racism that determines that implicitly implies that the more white students in the classroom, the better the funding and, therefore, education is going to be for everyone. Research shows that black students who attend integrated schools have higher rates of earning bachelor’s degrees and higher wages overall compared to black students who are effectively segregated.

In urban areas across the country, the average Latino finds themselves in a student body that is just 5% white. That reinforces class lines and prevents the diversity of ideas to be spread across those very lines.

The good news is that Latina mothers are progressively becoming more educated.

@kayashley_x / Twitter

UC Berkley’s research team produced an in-depth report on the intersection of education and the Latino community, which includes the impacts of segregation and beyond. Bruce Fuller is the lead researcher and a professor of education and public policy at Berkley. Fuller is happy to report that his “Berkeley-led team found that college-going rates of Latina mothers have climbed steadily since 1998. These women show little hesitation to assimilate, while enriching their bilingual skills, then moving into better jobs and suburbs that host integrated schools.”

The seemingly largest factor in Latino children having a better education is a result of their parents becoming more and more educated.

@latimes / Twitter

The research confirms our own personal anecdotes. As Latinos finally enter the middle class, families are moving to middle class neighborhoods with schools that are just likelier to be more integrated. In an interview, Fuller says that as young Latino families become more educated, it “allows for movement into more economically-integrated communities. Now [these communities] might still be predominantly Latino, but at least we’re achieving economic integration for many, many Latino kids.”

“If we can get poor kids in the same classrooms as middle-class kids,” Fuller said, “we’re probably going to see stronger educational outcomes.”

*Shocking* research that bilingual skills offer higher pay is also motivating schools to implement dual-language campuses.

It doesn’t have to be Spanish either. According to Fuller, “One popular elementary school immerses students in classes taught in both Mandarin and English, starting in kindergarten. It’s a “microcosm of the world,” Principal Darlene Martin said.”

Fuller’s research compares the demographics of various counties across the U.S. and tries to understand what policies allow for greater racial integration. “Part of this stems from differing patterns of housing segregation,” he reports. “Still, educators differ in their will to build magnet schools and dual-language programs, which white parents find rigorous and attractive.”

Fuller wants to see political leaders explain “how they aim to bring the nation’s kaleidoscope of children under one roof.”

@13Who_Gaga / Twitter

Fuller concludes his research with this powerful statement: “Let’s look forward and build from what works, recognizing that nurturing mutual respect grows from tender mercies each day in classrooms, not from polarizing squabbles over the past.”

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

The Significance Behind Today’s Google Doodle of Puerto Rican Activist Felicitas Mendez

Things That Matter

The Significance Behind Today’s Google Doodle of Puerto Rican Activist Felicitas Mendez

Today’s Google Doodle is an eye catching image: an illustration of a smiling brown-skinned woman. She watches children of all colors go into a sun-drenched school, palm trees lining the walkways. A man in a suit escorts two of the brown-skinned children into the building.

The Doodle is of Puerto Rican activist Felicitas Mendez, a woman instrumental in the fight against school segregation between whites and Latinos in the 1940s.

Born in the town of Juncos in Puerto Rico, Mendez moved to the mainland United States when she was 10-years-old. It was here that she experienced her first taste of American racism and inequality.

Because of their mixed-race Puerto Rican heritage, Mendez (née Gómez) and her family were racialized as “Black” by white Americans, and therefore subject to anti-Black discrimination. But when her and her family moved to Southern California to work the fields, she was racialized as “Mexican” and discriminated against by anti-Hispanic racists.

Felicitas Mendez and her husband, Gonzalo Mendez, were the key figures behind the landmark anti-segregation case, Mendez vs. Westminster.

Mendez vs. Westminster was a California civil rights desegregation case which successfully ended the segregation between Latino and white students in the state of California.

As the story goes, the Mendez family moved from the integrated town of Santa Ana, California to Westminster, California, where they were shocked to discover the students were divided into “white” and “Mexican” schools. Since the doctrine of “separate but equal” schooling was a myth, Mexican schools received far less government funding and gave inferior education.

The school for Mexican students was so bad, that Mendez’s daughter Sylvia (an activist in her own right) later described it as a pair of wooden shacks on a dirt lot, surrounded by an electric fence.

school segregation
via Getty Images

Instead of going along with Westminster school district’s policy of segregation, Felicitas Mendez and her husband decided instead to challenge their policy.

In 1945, on behalf of roughly 5,000 Hispanic-American school-aged students, Mendez and her husband filed a lawsuit against Westminster School District of Orange County. And they ended up winning.

The Westminster school-board appealed, but to no avail. In 1947, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the district court’s ruling in favor of the Mendezes.

This lawsuit, Mendez v. Westminster, would eventually become the spark that ignited the larger fight against school segregation throughout the nation. Shortly after the win, then-California Governor Earl Warren ordered all California public schools other public spaces to desegregate as well.

Mendez’s experience as being labeled as both Black and Mexican at various points in her life made her an active anti-racist, sensitive to the plight of people and children of all colors.

“We had to do it. Our children, all of our children, brown, black,
and white, must have the opportunity to be whatever they want to be, and education gives them that opportunity,” she said in a 1998 interview.

As today’s Google Doodle illustrator Emily Barrera says: “When I see Felicitas, I see a strong woman, a fighter, a mother, a pioneer in the Civil Rights movement, fighting for the same rights as her own family and heritage.” And that is what she was. A brave activist, yes. A fighter, yes. But above all, a loving mother who wanted a better future for her children.

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

A Judge Has Ruled That The University of California System Can No Longer Use SAT And ACT Tests For Admissions And It’s A Huge Win For The Underprivileged

Things That Matter

A Judge Has Ruled That The University of California System Can No Longer Use SAT And ACT Tests For Admissions And It’s A Huge Win For The Underprivileged

Kevork Djansezian / Getty

Advocates against the use of standardized tests for college admissions have long argued that the use of such exams sets back students from underprivileged backgrounds and those who have disabilities. Aware of the leg up it gives to privileged and non-disabled students an advantage in the admittance process, they’ve rallied for schools to end such practices.

And it looks like they’ve just won their argument.

A judge has ruled that the University of California system can no longer use ACT and SAT tests as part of their admissions process.

Brad Seligman is the Alameda County Superior Court Judge who issued the preliminary injunction in the case of Kawika Smith v. Regents of the University of California on Tuesday. The plaintiffs in Kawika Smith v. Regents of the University of California include five students and six organizations College Access Plan, Little Manila Rising, Dolores Huerta Foundation, College Seekers, Chinese for Affirmative Action, and Community Coalition.

In his decision, Judge Seligman underlined that the UC system’s “test-optional” policy on UC campuses has long given privileged and non-disabled students a chance at a “second look” in the admissions process. According to Seligman, this “second look” denies such opportunities to students who are unable to access the tests.

The decision is a major victory for students with disabilities and from underprivileged backgrounds.

News of the decision comes on the heels of the university system’s ruling to waive the standardized testing requirements until 2024.

In May, a news release asserted that if a new form of a standardized test had not been developed by 2025, the system would have to put an end to the testing requirement for California students. On Monday, the judge’s ruling took things further by banning the consideration of scores from students who submit them all together.

“The current COVID 19 pandemic has resulted in restrictions in the availability of test sites,” Seligman wrote in his ruling. “While test-taking opportunities for all students have been limited, for persons with disabilities, the ability to obtain accommodations or even to locate suitable test locations for the test is ‘almost nil.'”

A spokesperson for the University of California said the university “respectfully disagrees with the Court’s ruling.”

“An injunction may interfere with the University’s efforts to implement an appropriate and comprehensive admissions policies and its ability to attract and enroll students of diverse backgrounds and experiences,” the spokesperson said. According to the spokesperson, the UC system is considering further legal action in the case. The system said that its testing has allowed for an increase in admission of low-income and first-generation-to-college-students for the fall of 2020.

With UC being the largest university system in the country, Seligman’s ruling is a massive deal. Students and advocates have long fought for the elimination of these standardized tests arguing that they do not accurately reflect a student’s academic ability.

“Research has repeatedly proved that students from wealthy families score higher on the SAT and ACT, compared to students from low-income families,” reports CNN. It’s important to note that the analysis by Inside Higher Ed revealed that the “lowest average scores for each part of the SAT came from students with less than $20,000 in family income. The highest scores came from those with more than $200,000 in family income.”

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com