The Tale of Two Schools

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by dlrorer
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The Tale of Two Schools

Chapter 8:"The Tale of Two Schools"

Early 1900s:In California and the Southwest, Mexican Americans, or Chicanos, were excluded from “Whites Only” theaters, parks, swimming pools, restaurants-even schools.

1944:80 percent of school districts in California with large Mexican populations segregation. Also, 80 percent of agricultural labor force in southern California was Mexican.

March 2, 1945:A class action suit against the Westminster, Garden Grove, El Modena, and Santa Ana boards of education on behalf of 5,000 Mexican American children attending segregated, inferior schools was filed.

February 18, 1946:U.S. District Court Judge Paul J. McCormick pointed out that segregation “fosters antagonisms in the children and suggests inferiority among them where none exists.” Because the separate schools created social inequality, McCormick reasoned that they were in violation of the students’ constitutional rights, leading to the Orange County school boards filing an appeal.

April 19, 1947:The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco condemned the “separate but equal” doctrine of Plessy v. Ferguson.

1954:Former California Governor Earl Warren, who had been appointed chief justice of the United States Supreme Court, wrote the historic opinion that finally ended the legal segregation of students on the basis of race in American schools.

Today:The long legacy of segregation has left its mark on our current educational system, and integration and equity are issues that schools are still grappling with today.

By:Roselle AntikollCourtney BengelEvan Lipschultz

Synthesis:The articles in this chapter mainly deal with past issues in American history dealing with public, federal system, and facility segregation based on ethnicity and race. The article mainly focuses on the Mendez vs. Westminster case, dealing with school segregation in the region of southern California where the children of a Mexican family who were denied access to the 17th Street School in Westminster California based on their dark skin color and features of her children. On the other hand, the family’s mother’s brother’s children, also taken to enroll, were given remittance based solely on their lighter skinned complexions and features despite having similar ethnic and racial Mexican backgrounds as their cousins. The chapter also gives mention of an incident in northern United States Alaska, where a young lady named Alberta Schenck, who was half white and half eskimo, was arrested after refusing to move after taking a seat in her local movie theater’s “White Only” section, and had sent a telegram describing the incident to Alaskan governor Ernest Gruening. The story talks much about how things like this were a common everyday thing with native Alaskans and whites. The incident which along with the mass protesting of native people of the region with support of Alaska territory governor Ernest Gruening lead to a bill being passed, guaranteeing “full and equal accommodation, facilities, and privileges to all citizens” for everyone in the Alaska territory, forever changing Alaska so that things like that, and segregation, would never happen again.

Court Cases:The issue that takes place in this chapter is segregation with race and ethnicity in Westminster, California beginning in 1945. The article is based on the Mendez vs. Westminster case, which was school segregation in southern California. A court case that relates to this issue would be the Brown vs. Board of Education case that took place seven years after this article. The Brown vs. Board of Education was a case that in which the court declared state laws to establish that separate public schools from black and white students to be unconstitutional. This case led to civil integration in public schools in the U.S. prohibiting segregation in schools based on color and overturned Plessy vs. Ferguson ruling of “separate but equal”. “A Tale of Two Schools” relates to this, because the Mendez’s tried to put their kids in a public school and only two of them could enroll because the other children were considered too dark to attend the school. Segregation of race was taking place in California and the Mendez’s would not take it anymore, so they decided to go to court.

Hernandez vs. Texas:Hernandez vs. Texas was a Supreme Court case in 1954 that further developed the legal freedom of racial and ethnic minorities in the United States. The case was started on the basis of when Pedro Hernandez, a Mexican agricultural worker was convicted of murder, but he was put on trial against an all-white jury. After tried no guilty, debate ensued as Chief Justice Earl Warren stated e required Hernandez to be tried with a different court racial minorities and groups were protected under the 14th Amendment. This marked a point where civil legal equality had advanced even greater for the racial minority people of the United States.


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