Teaching Mexican American students in Texas: 1930s vs. 2020s

by: Chuy Ramirez
Posted: July 29, 2021

The theme of our July 2021 edition of IberoAztlan is Teaching Mexican American students in Texas: 1930s   vs.  2020s. During the 1930s, segregation of Mexican American students from Anglo students was the norm.  Educators rationalized the practice as a reasonable approach to teach English to Mexican American students through a methodology called “English-immersion”.   We feature education in this July 2021 edition of IberoAztlan and offer a unique contrast in historical approaches to public education in Texas.  From the 1930s, several articles reprinted from Texas Outlook (no longer in publication) give us the perspective from educators of that period.  We learn directly from teachers how they justified the segregation and how they implemented an English-only pedagogy.

Fast forward to 2021: In interviews with three Mexican American scholars I attempt to understand the development and evolution of bilingual and dual language programs.  Dr. Alejo Salinas implemented one of the first bilingual education programs at the Pharr San Juan Alamo (Texas) public schools during the late 1960s.  He shares the struggles early educators faced in developing approaches to using the innovative methods bilingual education offered.  Dr. Leo Gomez developed methods for teaching one-way and two-way dual language instruction in the elementary schools.  His programs are used extensively in public school districts.  Finally, Dr. Francisco Guajardo, formerly at the University of Texas – Rio Grande Valley, and currently Chief Executive Officer a the Museum of South Texas, focuses on teaching the teachers who provide dual language instruction.

Chuy Ramirez is an attorney practicing law in the Rio Grande Valley since 1983, and dabbles in writing.

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