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The miseducation of Mexican Americans: The crossroads of affirmative action and bilingual education

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  1. The meaning of the phrase 'bilingual education'.
  2. What bilingual education can achieve?
  3. Misconceptions regarding affirmative action.
  4. Bilingual education and maltreatment of LEP students by public and private sectors.
  5. Correction of the disenfranchisement of LEP students.
  6. Examples of how bilingual education is not a form of affirmative action.
  7. The story of Mexican Americans in the American Southwest.
  8. Conclusion.

From its inception, the US has been a nation of foreign cultures and languages, a nation with a strong ideology committed to ideals of harmony and justice. Since its inception too, the nation has time and time again fallen far short of these ideals. While waves of immigrant ethnic groups have eagerly entered the country, the country has many times violently expanded its borders and annexed new groups. Today the US is a complicated milieu of values, languages, and peoples, and continues to struggle with the idea of a singular American cultural identity. Bilingual education and affirmative action are two major policies that have lately emerged as the focal points of this discourse, though both issues are mostly treated as separate. In theory, bilingual education is a major benefactor of ethnolinguistic minorities, while affirmative action sponsors women and racial minorities with histories of being discriminated against.

[...] ?From the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo to Hopwood: the Educational Plight and Struggle of Mexican Americans in the Southwest.? Harvard Educational Review, Vol No.3, Fall. pp 353-412. Suarez-Orozco, M. M. (1987). Sink or Swim: The politics of bilingual education. New York: Praeger. Suarez-Orozco, M. M. (1993). Hispanic cultural psychology: implications for education theory and research. In P. Phelan & A. L. Davidson (Eds.), Renegotiating cultural diversity in American schools (pp. 108-138). New York: Teachers College Press. Waggoner, D., & O'Malley, J. [...]

[...] The similarities of the practice of affirmative action and bilingual education of Mexican Americans may thus seem lacking. It is true that the majority of the Southwestern Mexican Americans' descendants are today English-fluent. Still, educational policies greatly retarded the socioeconomic development of Mexican Americans such that both new generations as well as new immigrant families join a pre-existing Mexican American underclass that faces the same struggle of stereotypes, discrimination, and poverty. More to the point though, this sort of ancestor-level differentiation is not made by today's affirmative action policies. [...]

[...] In Proceedings of the Inter-American Conference on Intellectual Inter-Change. Austin: University of Texas, Institute of Latin-American Studies. Castellanos, D. (1983). The Best of Two Worlds: Bilingual-Bicultural Education in the U.S. Trenton: New Jersey State Dept of Education. Child, I.L. (1943). Italian or American? The Second Generation in conflict. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. Crawford, J. (1992). Hold Your Tongue: Bilingualism and the politics of English Only. Boston: Addison-Wesley. Gibson, E. H. (1993). The School Performance of immigrant minorities: A comparative view. In E. [...]

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