The state of education for students of Mexican descent on the Texas/Mexico border: then and now
Thompson, Wally D.
MetadataShow full item record
Much of the territory from the Sabine River, the border between present day Texas and Louisiana, to the Pacific Ocean was occupied by persons of Mexican descent long before it became part of the United States. There are still many persons of Mexican descent in that area, and it is the education of their children, as well as the education of students of Mexican descent in the entire United States, which is the focus of this investigation. There are two principal reasons for singling out this population. The first is that persons of Mexican descent compose a very large segment of the population of this country: just over ten percent of the population of the entire United States (Ennis, Rios-Vargas, & Albert, 2010, p. 2) and almost forty percent of the population of the state of Texas (Texas Quick Facts, 2010) are of Mexican descent. The second is that there is an extraordinary need. Nearly all indices of educational problems; absenteeism, retention, and attrition, to name but a few indicate that students of Mexican descent have greater difficulties than their Western European descent counterparts (Arias, 1986; Kohler & Lazarin, 2007; National Center for Educational Statistics, 2003). These obstacles possibly contribute to the discrepancy between the academic performance of students of Mexican descent, and students of other ethnicities (Hess, 2000; Matute-Bianche, 2008). To approach this problem, the researcher investigated the total educational milieu of students of Mexican descent of two periods of time which are separated by thirty years: 1975 and 2005. Researching documents, reading school board minutes, and talking to students from those eras developed a picture of the educational environment of those times and allowed for a comparison. The analysis of the assembled data revealed two significant findings. The first finding is that factors external to the Mexican-descent community, such as racism and segregation, have been affected by federal regulations, and no longer are present in the educational system to an ascertainable degree. The second finding is that several components of the community’s culture have survived and appear to be influencing the education of Mexican-descent students both positively and negatively. The primary societal value which is present in the interviews of all of the time periods which are included in this study is familism. It is this feature of the community which appears to have a lasting impact on education. These findings will benefit classroom teachers across America who teach students of Mexican descent. Knowing what aspects of the Mexican descent culture relate to their educational success, or lack thereof, is important and will contribute to teachers being better prepared to teach this large and growing population.
A dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Curriculum and Instruction/Reading