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A Legacy of Neglect: George I. Sánchez, Mexican American Education, and the Ideal of Integration, 1940–1970

by Carlos Kevin Blanton - 2012

This biographical study of Dr. George I. Sánchez, a leading Mexican American educator, intellectual, and activist from the 1930s through the 1960s, opens up the idea of compensatory education—the prevalent notion of the 1960s that schools use specialized instructional programs to combat the alleged cultural deprivation of some children, particularly minorities—to a wider focus. While George Sánchez addressed key themes of compensatory education in critical and even predictive ways since at least the 1940s, he was not known to the compensatory education movement, nor was his most passionate subject, Mexican Americans, much of a factor in compensatory education thinking. And this was most unfortunate. No one captured more forcefully the tension between liberal sympathy to offer special schooling to Mexican Americans and how such innovative educational programs maintained and perpetuated the widespread practice of racial segregation. I focus on several discrete, illustrative episodes of Sánchez’s life and activism over a three-decade period: first, Sánchez’s New Deal-era idealism from the late 1930s and early 1940s in which he used stricter sociological definitions of Mexican American culture as deficient and in need of government action; second, his efforts of the 1940s and 1950s to desegregate public schools in Texas and the Southwest on behalf of the nascent Mexican American civil rights movement; third, his support for bilingual education in the 1960s for reasons of civic and political equality, but not from the perspective of sociolinguistic theory; and finally, Sánchez’s surprisingly persistent and pugnacious opposition throughout the 1960s to a preschool compensatory program that originated from within the Mexican American community. These four phases of Sanchez’s career illustrate the degree to which Sánchez wrestled with, and even predicted, some key points of later criticism of the entire compensatory education intellectual project. These aspects of Sanchez’s work also document just how invisible Mexican American struggles were to national intellectual and policy circles. But most of all, George I. Sánchez recognized that the Mexican American people in the United States, his people, suffered greatly from a sad legacy of neglect. One of the central consistencies to his pedagogical thinking regardless of the decade was his willingness to call attention to that tragic legacy in the hopes of correcting it. This underlying principle to Sánchez’s life and work, as well as his sharp diagnosis of the leading educational theories of the day, makes his marginal, almost invisible position among compensatory education thinkers of the 1960s, who also sought to correct legacies of injustice, just as tragic. Educational thinkers today should know more about George I. Sánchez as well as his perspectives on Mexican Americans, schools, and justice.

Biography can open up a wider window into a multitude of topics that go far beyond one life. Seemingly small, even microscopic discourses and events can give flesh to larger ideas in ways that structural, institutional, or abstract approaches cannot. As a biographer of intellectual, educator, and civil rights activist George I. Sánchez, I have a unique entrée into how a nationally recognized Mexican American education thinker, one of the few there were between the New Deal and the Great Society, articulated his subject and how he engaged the educational trends of the day.1 The trend at issue is the phenomenon of compensatory education programs of the 1960s designed to compensate for the alleged culturally deprived child.

This essay proposes to ask not what compensatory education was or what it sought to be, but rather what it was not. My colleagues in this collection of essays—Barbara Beatty, Sylvia L. M. Martinez, John L. Rury, and John P. Spencer—directly focus on leading compensatory education thinkers, practitioners of compensatory education at the local level, as well as the language of compensatory education in the public sphere. But the light shed by this essay is somewhat different. My employment of the Mexican American story as articulated by George I. Sánchez instead focuses on what was missing from compensatory education in a way that, it is hoped, offers a different kind of insight. Simply put, Mexican Americans did not fit into compensatory education’s thinking and for quite interesting and instructive reasons. This is odd since, on the surface, Mexican Americans benefitted from compensatory programs. And they suffered the kind of poverty and racial prejudice experienced by other minorities. But there was a distance between Mexican Americans and compensatory education thinkers. For example, in the midst of one of the main Latino legislative gains during Lyndon B. Johnson’s Great Society, the Bilingual Education Act, Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW) staff Lupe Anguiano and Armando Rodriquez, who were both lobbying for the legislation, nevertheless worried that an emphasis on remedial instruction within the compensatory education framework of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act might stigmatize bilingual education. This ambivalence about compensatory education was the product of Mexican Americans’ self-awareness of their people’s complicated and sad legacy of neglect—the focus of this essay.2 By studying the educational activism and thought of George I. Sánchez through a longer period of time, I aim to instructively relate the Mexican American experience as an ignored, analogous mirror that absorbed the projected image of compensatory education’s idealism, but instead reflected doubt and anxiety.

But before getting to the heart of this essay, it should be explained that Mexican Americans did not occasion much serious thought from leading compensatory education thinkers. This was especially tragic since even a rudimentary understanding of the Mexican American educational experience as it stood by the early 1960s could have predicted many of the criticisms that later dogged compensatory education. Why was this experience neglected? True, Mexican Americans were regarded at the time as an essentially regional population. However, the most compelling reason is that compensatory education thinkers, like most Americans, were stuck in a black-white binary conception of race. A number of intellectuals have noted that one of the challenges to scholars today is acknowledging how binary categories of race mute the diversity of the past, cut off alternative perspectives, and obscure daily acts of aggression and resistance.3

Leading compensatory education thinkers exhibited this black-white binary. In a 1963 essay, Frank Riessman, one of the key articulators of compensatory education, decried the use of loaded terms and a one-sided pessimism that had crept into the field. Though he intended to discuss socioeconomic class exclusively, the examples Riessman used were drawn exclusively from the African American experience. This conflation of class with race, of low income with African American, limited the horizons of compensatory thinkers. The writings of Martin Deutsch, one of the leading lights of the compensatory education movement, also defined which groups he regarded as disadvantaged by socioeconomic class, but the references to the African American experience are obvious.4 Historian Diane Ravitch argues that the terms “culturally deprived,” “culturally disadvantaged,” “underprivileged,” and “lower-class child” were usually “euphemisms for the black child.” This point is further advanced in Wayne Urban’s recent analysis of the National Education Association’s attempts to grapple with educational inequality and deprivation theory in the early 1960s.5

Also, compensatory education thinkers lacked an accurate sense of history. Ravitch argued that when compensatory education supporters alleged a deep failure of the schools to reach the urban African American poor as successfully as earlier schools had assimilated European immigrants, they demonstrated “a lack of historical perspective about the difficulties encountered by immigrants in urban schools.” She went on,

Few social scientists seemed to know that immigrant children had experienced high rates of ‘educational retardation’ in the early twentieth century; that relatively few immigrant children had finished high school; and that midcentury schools were being judged by a far higher standard of success than early twentieth century schools ever attained.

Nathan Glazer, a leading scholar of ethnicity, made this assumption well into the 1970s. Martin Deutch theorized that “segregated schools carry with them poor education, partly because there traditionally has been in them no middle-class group demanding quality.” This statement amazingly discounts the African American community’s constant struggles for better schools as well as similar efforts by other minority groups throughout the early 20th century. In seeking to address sticky issues that were in fact larger societal problems, compensatory education thinkers failed to reconcile their ideas to a more complicated, negative past.6

The first part of this essay explains how George I. Sánchez, in the late 1930s and early 1940s, voiced Mexican American educational aspirations through his work in New Mexico. Sánchez willingly employed harsh-sounding environmental analyses of Mexican Americans to combat hereditarian assessments that justified segregation. The second focus demonstrates how Sánchez and Mexican American activists legally challenged the rationale justifying the educational segregation of Mexican Americans during the 1940s and 1950s. But the constant state-sponsored obfuscation of this civil rights momentum hardened them toward curricular innovation since advocates for segregated schools based their justifications on pedagogy. In the third episode of this essay, Sánchez’s disagreement with Joshua Fishman in the early 1960s, then a younger scholar and early proponent of bilingual education, illustrates how Sánchez supported the concept of bilingual instruction but from a perspective that isolated him from its more academic proponents; his interpretations on language, history, and Mexican American agency instead oriented his support of bilingual education along less academic and more activist lines. The final area explored by this essay is how, throughout the 1960s, Sánchez opposed a popular compensatory project that originated from within the Mexican American community and was later adopted by the state of Texas. Once again, while Sánchez supported greater government attention to Mexican Americans, it simply meant more of the same sad legacy of neglect to him if it did not actually integrate them with other students.


Dr. George I. Sánchez (1906–1972) was a Mexican American intellectual and an education and civil rights activist whose opposition to aspects of compensatory education prefigured modern controversies. Of that generation of Mexican American scholars prior to the Chicano movement—the Mexican American Generation from the 1930s to the 1960s—Sánchez’s writings, according to one historian, continue to exhibit a “more contemporary resonance” for his constant insistence that “the Mexican American was not and had never been the problem.” For Sánchez, it was an unsympathetic and unknowledgeable government that fostered a legacy of neglect.7

In the early 1930s, Sánchez was a young man with a growing family and a hunger to make a difference. Raised in impoverished mining towns in New Mexico and Arizona, he graduated in 1923 from high school in Albuquerque, New Mexico, at the age of 16 and immediately took a job as a rural schoolteacher. After a few years in the remote Bernalillo County schools around Albuquerque, Sánchez married and began a rapid upward climb as a teacher-principal within the county school system. It should be noted that these were segregated Latino schools. Hispanos of New Mexico then suffered a rapidly decreasing socioeconomic status, and this was reflected in the poorly funded public schools provided for their children. In 1930, Sánchez earned his BA at the University of New Mexico through night and summer courses. With support from the Rockefeller-funded General Education Board (GEB), he was able to leave teaching for a year to complete an MA at the University of Texas in 1931. He then became a director within the New Mexico State Department of Education at the Division of Information and Statistics (entirely GEB funded). From this bureaucratic perch, he decried unfair public financing and racism. He earned his doctorate in education from the University of California at Berkeley in 1934 before losing his state job the next year because of his very public activism. He then worked short stints with the Rosenwald Fund in Chicago, the government of Venezuela, and the University of New Mexico before leaving in 1940 for his final professional home at the University of Texas.8

During the 1930s, Sánchez was very much a New Dealer. He schemed with a U.S. senator, a university president, and the GEB to create a federally sponsored institute for the education of bilinguals of the Southwest. He wrote pioneering academic essays arguing against the commonly held wisdom of the 1920s that Mexican American children were of hopelessly low IQ. He consistently championed the efforts of governments to aid the poor and the helpless. Specifically, he viewed as his own personal mission the rehabilitation of Mexican Americans through government programs and educational uplift. Sánchez regarded Mexican Americans as educationally backward, culturally unincorporated into American life, and victims of rapacious economic exploitation. But, as he always sharply pushed back, the United States made them so. For him, these supposed shortcomings had no basis in any cultural or genetic deficiency, but were rather a tragic legacy of neglect.9

Between February and October 1939, while essentially an adjunct professor at the University of New Mexico, Sánchez was authorized by President James F. Zimmerman to take leave of his courses and travel north to the impoverished Taos County, along the Rio Grande on the state’s border with Colorado, to fulfill a $4,000 grant from the Carnegie Foundation to study rural Hispanos.10 Sánchez believed from the first that his study was an incredible opportunity that was ultimately much more important than a mere report to be freely distributed without much fanfare. The Carnegie Foundation also believed that the report could reach a wider audience and accordingly provided funds for its ultimate publication as a book.11

This book, Forgotten People: A Study of New Mexicans, represented the coming together for Sánchez of nearly a decade’s worth of New Deal-oriented, intellectual life. It dealt with the history of New Mexicans and proposed changing their status quo through a more responsive government and a more informed citizenry. Anticipating the internal colonial model of later Chicano scholars, Sánchez insisted in Forgotten People that Mexican Americans did not choose poverty and discrimination; rather, they had it forced on them by a brutal, exploitive colonial past in which Spanish, Mexican, and then United States rule consistently championed the wealthy and powerful over the poor and powerless. He argued, “Neglected for more than two hundred years as Spanish colonials and Mexicans, their cultural situation was not greatly improved by the territorial regime” and that whatever successes some Hispanos achieved were more than offset by the fact that “the great masses of the people constitute a severely handicapped social and economic minority.”12

In attempting to hold the nation accountable for Mexican Americans’ plight, Sánchez overemphasized the victimization of Chicanos. This was, however, the new style of social science research. The social sciences in the United States in the 1930s had begun to move away from direct, race-based, hereditarian judgments of minority groups and to more paternalistic, indirect, environmental assessments. For example, during the 1930s, the more accepted reason for low minority achievement—whether African American, Native American, European immigrant, or Mexican American—was flawed culture, which was deemed correctible, as opposed to flawed genetics, which was not. And Sánchez was no stranger to applying these deprivation models to his own beloved people.13

Sánchez urged not only accommodation to the dominant society but also resistance to its varied forms of oppression. One recent historian regards Sánchez as a “cultural broker” who could invoke shame and empathy simultaneously. In doing so, he was vulnerable to attacks from multiple directions.14 For Sánchez, this supposed backwardness of culture was the sad legacy of race prejudice and neglect by the dominant society. The only solution was inclusion, incorporation, integration. He wrote,

The New Mexican often carries on inferior and obsolete practices and beliefs because he has been permitted, and forced, to remain in isolation. Of necessity, he has persisted in a traditional way of life that is below current standards. His language has suffered disuse, yet he has had little chance to learn to use English effectively. His social status reflects his economic insufficiency. His lack of education handicaps him in the exercise of his political power.

Sánchez then argued that this imposed handicap made the Hispano of New Mexico “a public charge once he has lost his land, his traditional source of livelihood. Midst the wreckage of his economy and his culture, and unprepared for the new order of things, he is pathetic in his helplessness—a stranger in his own home.”15

The integration of Mexican Americans into the mainstream of American life was the only path forward for Sánchez. Despite the tough criticism that Sánchez leveled at the United States for its exploitive history toward New Mexicans, he was still optimistic for the nation to claim its responsibilities for this forgotten people: “Released from the handicaps of his present situation, he need no longer be a problem child, a culturally unassimilated subject, but a respected and self-respecting American.” This incorporation, Sánchez argued, would mean that the Hispano would no longer be “the stepchild of a nation.” Sánchez finished, “Freed from cultural bondage and from the despair of dire poverty, the New Mexicans will have harvested the true fruits of their conquest and will cease to exist as forgotten people.” The assimilation discussed by Sánchez is as much about social and economic justice as culture; the whiff of resistance, of cultural pride in this kind of strategic assimilation, is evident. Nothing in Forgotten People could be construed as forgetting the past, blaming the victim, or abandoning Hispano culture. The culture that most needed reforming was the culture of poverty, neglect, and hopelessness. In this sense, Sánchez represents a modernist voice in Chicano literature and scholarship. According to literary scholar Rámon Saldívar, Sánchez is one of the few pre-World War II Mexican Americans who presciently captured the later 20th-century Chicano articulation of discrimination, exploitation, and struggle.16


Language in the education of Mexican American children was not an abstract problem for George I. Sánchez. It was a daily classroom reality for him in the 1920s as a rural schoolteacher and by the 1930s had become one of his major academic concerns. By the 1940s and 1950s, it was his biggest problem. The language trap represented a longstanding legacy of discrimination for Mexican Americans. Well before compensatory thinkers hit the mainstream, Sánchez battled the “disadvantaged” label with Mexican American children, especially as it pertained to special instruction for perceived language deficiency.

Academic assertions that Mexican Americans would not learn English without “special” instruction had, by the 1930s, formed the basis for de facto segregation throughout the Southwest. Given the legal record of Del Rio Independent School District v. Salvatierra (1930), Westminster v. Mendez (1947), and Delgado v. Bastrop Independent School District (1948), Sánchez’s adamant denial of language’s fundamental importance is unsurprising. These three cases (and others) upheld the general principle of essentially linguistic segregation within the lower elementary grades.17 Whereas charges of poor hygiene, low IQ, and the need to Americanize failed as legal justifications for segregated schools, the law permitted pedagogical ones concerning special, intensive language instruction that also happened to be segregated.18 This was the pre–compensatory education version of curricular enrichment for the Mexican American child. Most courts of law between the 1930s and the 1960s demurred that curriculum was not within their professional competency. They thus allowed educators in various communities free reign to conduct segregated schools on that basis. And astonishingly low matriculation rates rendered the legal limit to segregation in the early grades entirely moot. The state of Texas reported in the late 1950s that over 80 percent of the total Mexican American school population spent more than one year taking the first grade, only 25 percent reached the eighth grade, and 8.5 percent reached the twelfth grade. Sánchez in the 1940s and 1950s accurately concluded that language for Mexican Americans was a trap, not a right. By the late 1960s, younger Chicano activists would regard language as a cultural right, though they did so in very different legal and activist circumstances than the previous generation.19

Post-World War II legal action in California and Texas brought the issue of Mexican American educational segregation to the forefront. Sánchez was in the process of soliciting funding from the GEB for a national pressure group of educators that would publicly denounce school segregation (his Southwest Council on the Education of Spanish-Speaking People) and a research center to study Mexican Americans (his Study of the Spanish-Speaking People). Both endeavors aimed to provide public exposure and academic knowledge to ongoing Mexican American legal challenges to the status quo.20 So, surprisingly in the middle of this critical juncture, Sánchez engaged in a testy exchange with GEB officials over a project proposal that had independently come to them from the president of neighboring Southwest Texas State Teachers College in San Marcos, Texas. The proposal sought GEB support for improvements to the local “Mexican” school, and the GEB in turn sought Sánchez’s input. He wrote the GEB’s Fred McCuistion that he refused to endorse the proposal or in any way participate: “It is exceedingly easy, and therefore particularly dangerous, to want to make the segregated school more efficient and more attractive. Usually, this means that it becomes increasingly difficult to eliminate segregation since the segregated institution has been made more attractive, more palatable, and sometimes has attained a peculiarly prized prestige.” “But,” Sánchez continued to McCuistion, “as I have said in past addresses, the segregated school is a concentration camp—you may gold plate the fence posts and silver plate the bobbed [sic] wire and hang garlands of roses all the way around it, it is still a concentration camp!!”21

At this point in their lengthy acquaintance, McCuistion was inured to Sánchez’s occasional eruptions and did not take them personally, nor did it harm Sánchez’s GEB proposals. McCuistion disagreed in a way, however, that demonstrates how out in front Sánchez was on the segregation issue for that time: “I can understand your anxiety in the matter of elimination of segregation,” McCuistion answered. “It is a major and probably a long-time goal but, of course, I suppose there are a number of individuals and institutions anxious to take the next logical steps in the improvements of institutions and agencies serving the minority groups but who are not in a position to take a militant stand on the question of segregation.” Reminding his friend that the “final test” is whether a program can create “better educational opportunities,” McCuistion let the matter go, though Sánchez persisted in arguing the dead issue in later letters. To paraphrase future U.S. president Lyndon B. Johnson (appropriately given his alma mater’s role in spurring Sánchez’s outburst), a half a loaf was better than no loaf at all—at least it was so to Sánchez’s GEB supporter McCuistion.22 Other liberal allies (and financial backers) such as the American Civil Liberties union (ACLU) constantly urged Mexican Americans to go more cautiously in their quest to eliminate segregation. During World War II, the ACLU even went so far as to discourage Mexican Americans from building more direct alliances with other minority rights groups such as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.23

Months after this exchange with the GEB, Mexican American civil rights attorneys attempted to capitalize on the recent Mendez v. Westminster School District decision of California in their challenge to segregated schools in Bastrop, Texas, a small town just east of Austin. Delgado v. Bastrop was funded by a special League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) drive that generated contributions from local units and was managed by Sánchez, a former national president of the organization. The Mexican American legal team led by San Antonio activist Gus C. Garcia took the unique step of requesting in 1947 a legal opinion from the state attorney general, the highly ambitious Price Daniel, on the legality of racial segregation for Mexican Americans. Daniel’s office responded in Opinion V-128 that the racial segregation of Mexican Americans was indeed illegal. The opinion stipulated, however, that pedagogical segregation was permissible through the first three grades and only as the result of official testing of each individual child in order to determine the necessity for special language curriculum.24

The attorneys, and especially Sánchez, were unsatisfied. To the state’s assistant attorney general Joe R. Greenhill, Sánchez denounced the ruling’s tacit sanction for local communities desiring “to maintain a segregated school for ‘Mexicans,’ on one pretext or another.” Sánchez expounded on the ruling’s pedagogical unsoundness: “If, as your opinion indicates, pupils . . . can be segregated in separate buildings on the basis of ‘language deficiencies,’ why can’t they be segregated on the basis of deficiencies in arithmetic, or ability to draw, or muscular reaction speed, or any other arbitrarily selected subject matter, accomplishment, etc.?” And the reality of local school practices made a mockery of the court’s legal nuance. Sánchez complained to Governor Beauford T. Jester that the educational segregation of Mexican Americans in the guise of pedagogical justification occurred without any kind of evaluative measure: “segregation is based almost entirely on the basis of names, without real reference to educational criteria or considerations.” Sánchez encouraged student groups at the University of Texas, such as the American Veterans Anti-Discrimination Committee, the Laredo Club, and the Alba Club, to protest that the attorney general’s efforts did not go far enough.25

Throughout the rest of the decade, George I. Sánchez pestered anyone who would listen about the illegality of Mexican American educational segregation in Texas. In one mass missive to the state’s governor, attorney general, comptroller, superintendent, board of education, and its Good Neighbor Commission, Sánchez expanded his arguments about the loophole of curricular segregation. He also singled out several school districts throughout Central and South Texas that were operating segregated schools up through the fifth to eighth grades sans testing. To a graduate student working on a thesis entitled “Problems Encountered in Educating Spanish-Speaking Children in Southwest Texas,” Sánchez lectured on the need to maintain interpretive balance: “Remember that many non-Spanish-speaking children who come to our public schools have comparable language deficiencies and differences—even some of the English-speaking children! The public school ordinarily takes those differences and deficiencies in its stride—for Czechs, for Germans, for ‘hillbillies,’ etc.” After setting up this additional context, Sánchez posed the difficult central question for this young researcher: “The question then is: Are the language problems of Spanish-speaking children different from these, and if so why and to what extent? If you can’t make this point very clear, then you would have to advocate equally ‘special’ treatment for all those other groups of children.”26

To educators outside the state, Sánchez was equally aggressive in pitching his antisegregationist perspective. To a 1948 summer teacher’s conference on “intergroup relations” in Greeley, Colorado, Sánchez encountered audience resistance to his theme that “there is no such thing as a problem Spanish-speaking child.” Sánchez decried how schools throughout the nation took as gospel “formulas and patterns built upon a stereotype that has no real foundation in fact.” The result of this educational stereotype was that these children were often racially grouped in effect, but officially justified as a pedagogical separation because of linguistic handicaps. Perhaps it was these skeptical notions, or Sánchez’s plainspoken insistence that these children “are a group of human beings whose biological background is the same as anybody else’s [sic]” that spurred university personnel attending the workshop to vehemently disagree. They argued that the cultures of Mexican Americans and whites indicated stark difference and, thus, the need for a more separate, specialized curricular approach.27 Like African American educator Marcus Foster, as cogently explored by John Spencer in this collection, Sánchez’s employment of environmentalism was much different in tone and emphasis than that of many other experts in the field of Mexican American education. His resistance to the sad legacy of stereotyping and lowered expectations, even when such beliefs arose out of liberal sympathy, is evident.28

At one of his final Southwestern Council on the Education of Spanish-Speaking People conferences in Los Angeles in 1951, Sánchez spoke with prescience with regard to terms of identification and classification in the world of education. While certainly not anticipating the compensatory education movement per se, Sánchez’s radical skepticism certainly predicted a key point of dissent. He noted that educators saw their subjects more as sociological representations than as unique individuals: “One of the most important factors in the segregation and ostracism of population groups in this country is our uncritical use of terms. In the deceptiveness, the treachery of terminology, in the limitation of words, lies much of the misunderstanding about American minorities.” Sánchez went on,

To assume that all people of the same economic circumstance, or of the same color of skin, or of the same faith or national origin are culturally homogenous is absurd. Yet, as with Indians, we have let a term like Negro, or the Jewish faith, or national origin (Mexican, German, Irish) become determinants in spheres where the physical features, the religion, or the former homeland have no relevancy except as pegs upon which to hang unscientific biases and generalizations.29

If Sánchez was not quite specifically addressing compensatory education in 1951 with this kind of criticism, others did later. Sánchez’s comments about the way some sympathetic social scientists unintentionally replicated racism through lowered expectations and stereotypes resemble Dr. Kenneth B. Clark’s well-known broadsides from the mid-1960s to the early 1970s against compensatory education and deprivation theories regarding African Americans in poverty—just a couple decades earlier. A 1972 Clark essay is reminiscent of Sánchez’s obdurate emphasis on dealing with racial discrimination first and foremost and of the inadequacy of compensatory education programs or any other kind of education program as a substitute for adequately dealing with societal racism. “Over a period of time, however, the results from these [compensatory] programs mockingly betray the overriding fact of the inherent inequality in racially segregated schools,” Clark wrote in a manner that Sánchez would have wholeheartedly agreed with were he still living.30

The 1950s were a frustrating time for Sánchez and his civil rights colleagues. The legal precedents of the 1930s and 1940s had given Mexican American activists hope that conditions would change with time and with their own efforts at self-improvement. And as with other minorities in the United States, Mexican American veterans were galvanized by World War II to more forcefully assert their citizenship. Sánchez was personally uncomfortable with any amount of segregation. But the mild state intervention in Delgado, much to the shock of a segregationist local school district, helped Mexican Americans of Texas claim their first civil rights victory in a federal court over school segregation and, they optimistically hoped at the time, could be built on.31

 So who determined what was legally permissible segregation and what was not when, inevitably, a dispute arose? The Texas State Board of Education, through its newly overhauled bureaucratic arm, the Texas Education Agency (TEA), and its head, commissioner of education J. W. Edgar, had this responsibility.32 Edgar’s TEA created an administrative appeals process for such complaints. On the surface, such a process might seem to have guaranteed some degree of fairness, equality, seriousness, professionalism, and transparency. It was, after all, a direct result of the activism of Sánchez and Gus García at a meeting of the state board in April 1950. After this meeting, the board formulated a “statement of policy” declaring that the “segregation of children of Latin-American descent from Anglo-American children in the public school program is contrary to law.” However, it left open the possibility for the long-standing practice of curricular segregation and insisted that “local boards of school trustees be given the opportunity to eliminate such segregation prior to the bringing of such cases to the Commissioner of Education, where such matters would be handled only on the basis of appeal.” In effect, Edgar set himself up as his own federal court overseeing “whether or not in his judgment there has been a violation of the statutes or of constitutional rights.” This was a kangaroo court in which local districts were given years to perfect segregation. Meanwhile, the actual courts refused to interfere in the state agency’s regulatory functions.33

From his correspondence, it is clear that Sánchez was well aware that this process represented a significant bureaucratic trap, though it took several years of anxiously playing the game before he changed tactics. Between 1950 and 1957, numerous potential desegregation cases got lost in this appeals process from the towns of Kyle, Nixon, Sanderson, Carrizo Springs, Austin, and Pecos.34 Already, during the 1951 Kyle complaint, just a year after the TEA’s creation of the appeals process, Sánchez criticized the TEA’s “hair splitting search for technicalities that may be violated in carrying out the very procedure which they [TEA] have recommended.” Apparently TEA dropped the Kyle matter since the replacement attorney representing Mexican Americans would not have had the proper legal standing were the TEA offices an actual federal district court!35 In Nixon, also in 1951, Edgar rebuffed any attempt by Mexican Americans to arrive at a compromise measure on local segregation without first fulfilling the lengthy appeals process. He also threatened to end any further cooperation with Mexican Americans should the case appear in a federal court.36 By the time the Sanderson case arose in 1952, Sánchez was furious about the onerous appeals process and urged avoidance of local mediation. The attorneys, however, stuck with mediation, and by the summer of 1953, at the state TEA offices, Edgar laid down his decree that the people of Sanderson were wonderful, were technically in the wrong, and would get another year to think about how they might tinker with their racist student classification system.37 The Austin complaint of 1952 involved how school choice reinforced racial separation, and the Pecos complaint of 1953 centered on district zone boundaries. Neither met with decisive action from TEA.38

The Carrizo Springs complaint of 1954 is perhaps the most interesting given that Sánchez was personally involved because his sister-in-law and her family were the source of the complaint. Apparently, Edgar’s investigators had privately warned the Carrizo Springs schools earlier that they were illegally segregating Mexican American children. Despite this rather damning and frank admission by the school district, the Mexican American attorneys still had to begin the mediation process at the local level, chewing up valuable time and resources. It took the entire fall term just to get the commissioner to set a hearing for the end of the spring term, after a whole year of school. Sánchez was furious with the delays. He wrote Cristobal Aldrete, attorney for the Carrizo Springs families, “For Gosh sakes, get after Edgar immediately. Here is a situation where everyone, including Edgar, knows that the law is being violated.” Sánchez despised the way this administrative appeals process shifted the burden of proof in a manner inconsistent with courts of law:

I’m convinced that we don’t have to go through the rigamarole set up by Edgar and the State Board of Education. . . . Seriously, though, it seems to me that we are sort of friends of the court when we inform Edgar that, apparently, he is participating in segregation. It is up to him, then, to prove or disprove that, and act accordingly.

Sánchez then elaborated on the unfair burden placed on Mexican American activists seeking justice: “Why should we go on trial for pointing out to him that his subordinates have placed him in the position of practicing what he has been enjoined against practicing?”39

Sánchez was even lectured by one of Commissioner Edgar’s appeals investigators over his role in advising the complaint. The TEA official apparently felt that Sánchez was not being terribly helpful to his professional colleagues at the state agency. Sánchez responded by chiding Edgar on TEA’s support of “indefensible delaying tactics” by local schools and by baldly charging, “Your Agency should give orders, forthwith, to the recalcitrant superintendent and board to cease and desist from practices complained of. Otherwise, it would be our contention that your Agency endorses the policy of the local school authorities and condones the practices which violate the constitutional rights of my clients.” The Carrizo Springs school district and the local Mexican American community eventually settled the dispute informally for promises of some future level of desegregation. This compromise was the result of over a year of constant mediation, appeals, and the wooing of complaining families by school supporters in an effort to short-circuit the complaint. Sánchez vented to one attorney that he felt “let down badly in the Carrizo Springs case” since he had encouraged his wife’s kin to take part in the complaints only to have them experience frustrating delays and a fear of local retaliation.40

Meanwhile, Mexican American political figures such as then state senator and future congressman Henry B. Gonzalez of San Antonio worried that Sánchez might face retaliation for his crucial civil rights activism. In fact, he did. After testifying in late 1956 as an educational expert at one desegregation trial at a federal court in Corpus Christi, the professor noted to one of the civil rights attorneys he had worked closely with, James de Anda, that during the prior five years, he had been denied nearly $2,000 in raises (representing then nearly one quarter to one third of his total salary) and that his university administration and the board of regents were angered with the media coverage of his testimony. He wrote, “Today I was ‘called on the carpet’ by my Dean” because of the board of regents discussion of him, which centered on the fact that in their eyes, he had been “a baaad boy.” He added to de Anda, “It now develops that any raise that I might have gotten next year, and I expected a substantial one, may well have been washed down the drain by my testimony in the Driscoll case.” While his position was protected to some extent by tenure, George I. Sánchez for many years paid the price for his integrationist activism by enduring one of the lowest salaries of the university for a full professor.41

Allegations of language deficiency and the need for special pedagogical treatment triggered Jim Crow for Mexican Americans prior to the 1960s. This is what historian Guadalupe San Miguel has correctly labeled the “era of subterfuge” with regard to Chicano school segregation. By 1957, one complaint of this era broke through the tangled thistles of the mediation and appeals process to make it to a federal district court. This case, Hernández v. Driscoll, resulted in another courtroom win for Mexican Americans in that federal judge James Allred (a former New Deal-era governor) decided that curriculum was indeed proper for the judiciary to review provided that, as in the case of this school district near Corpus Christi, Texas, it resulted in a blatant attempt to segregate. This was the case in which Sánchez offered expert testimony and was punished by his university administration and its infamous red-baiting, right-wing, segregationist board of regents. Unfortunately for Mexican American children, the sad legacy of neglect and discrimination still existed via curricular segregation.42

George I. Sánchez was an integration purist who refused to see his people as anything less than equal to anyone else. He did not regard Mexican Americans as the problem; the dominant society was the problem. There was no cultural deficiency pertaining to American minorities; it was a cultural deficiency of the dominant society. In 1951, Sánchez wrote one of his better antiracial statements expressing his belief that how minority groups were regarded as problems by even sympathetic intellectuals was the real problem: “We need to look upon our American minorities objectively. When we do so, we will find that much that we think of as due to ethnic or racial differences are products of a state of mind, of a diseased state of mind, not that of the minority group.” Sánchez finished, “Jim Crowism—whether practiced against Negro, Jew, Mexican, or Chinese—is a mass mental aberration, a disease of which we must be cured for our own sakes, if only because of enlightened self-interest. From my point of view, the so-called problem of American minorities is, in reality, the problem of the majority.”43


Sánchez had a complex relationship to the emerging bilingual education movement of the 1960s. The senior scholar was included in and then excluded from one of the early works informing the bilingual education movement, the 1966 collection, Language Loyalty in the United States: The Maintenance and Perpetuation of Non-English Mother Tongues by American Ethnic and Religious Groups.44 This episode is significant, but not in an obvious way. It had everything to do with differing views of minority power and agency in history, and very little to do with actual bilingual education.

In 1961, at the beginning of the compensatory education era, Dr. Joshua A. Fishman of the University of Pennsylvania, later to become a giant in the bilingual education movement, directed a large HEW-sponsored project, the Survey of Language Resources of American Ethnic Groups, to document vernacular survival in the United States. Fishman operated under the conviction that national culture was extremely homogenizing and to preserve their vernaculars, ethnic groups self-consciously established their own institutions and practices. He saw this as a form of active resistance to the dominant culture. When Fishman cast about for an expert on Mexican Americans, he soon came to Sánchez, whom he knew through mutual friend Theodore Andersson, a language professor at the University of Texas and also an early giant in the bilingual education movement. After discussing his research methods and stating that “the basic purpose of this Project is to determine the extend [sic] to which and the means whereby American ethnic groups maintain their languages,” Fishman asked for Sánchez’s assistance in helping their study locate evidence of “schools, organizations, and family community efforts of Mexican Americans oriented around language maintenance.”45

Sánchez agreed to help. But in his lengthy response to Fishman, Sánchez maintained that the Mexican American organizations he knew of did not set as a goal “the conservation of the Spanish language.” He went on,

Why this is so, and why it is understandably so, is a matter of greater complexity than can be treated in this letter. The fact remains that this population group, in the main, has retained its vernacular. The forces that have brought this about require a careful analysis of factors that are essentially historical rather than linguistic or educational.

And finally, Sánchez stumbled on a troublesome portent for their future collaboration: “But your statement that your study is directed at determining the ‘means whereby American ethnic groups maintain their languages’ leaves me at a bit of a loss. With Mexican Americans it is not a matter of ‘how’ but a matter of ‘why.’” Fishman confidently brushed aside these alarm bells and assured Sánchez that they would work well together. Ignoring Sánchez’s qualifications, Fishman then asked Sánchez for a list of communities where he and his research team could view the hoped-for language maintenance process in action.46

Before long, Fishman’s project evolved to the point that he and several collaborators put together a collection of sociohistorical essays summarizing the U.S. language maintenance experience. Fishman asked Sánchez if he could write an essay on Mexican Americans. Sánchez admitted to “some fear and trembling” in accepting the job, a most odd comment given his usual assuredness. The reason for this apprehension was that Sánchez felt that he and Fishman were talking past one another about their clashing interpretive directions. Fishman jauntily addressed Sánchez’s ambivalence as the natural resistance of an already overcommitted, conscientious scholar who would in the end contribute his expertise. For his part, Sánchez felt that he had made clear his concerns and simply went to work on his 10,000- to 20,000-word essay, likely ignoring the two early essays Fishman sent as samples from the growing collection.47

Ultimately, neither scholar accepted the interpretive approach of the other. For Fishman, American society homogenized ethnic culture and language, a negative erasure that had to end; for Sánchez, American society had not fully assimilated Mexican Americans, or even tried to, despite the intentions of Mexican American groups with which he was affiliated that constantly stressed the English language. Fishman wanted the maintenance of foreign languages as a positive good; Sánchez viewed the preservation of Spanish as a failure of the schools, not the result of any intended plan on Mexican Americans’ part. Fishman saw agency and resistance of cultural chauvinism in ethnics’ efforts to preserve their languages; Sánchez saw the victimization of his people by a neglectful, discriminatory society that would rather keep them on the farms, at the bottom of the industrial order, and ignorant than offer them the educational opportunities necessary to escape their colonized status. Both perspectives had merit, yet neither scholar compromised. Also, Sánchez was angry at having written a lengthy historical analysis of language in Mexican American life that was then rejected by Fishman for refusing to view his people’s legacy of neglect in more positive terms. And Fishman expected an essay from Sánchez that at the very least kept to the oft-communicated theme, obviously correct to him, that language maintenance was indeed a key, positive component of the subterranean cauldron of lingering ethnicity in the United States.48

Sánchez argued to Fishman that linguistic preservation among Mexican Americans and Native Americans (also within his published expertise) was negatively inspired:

That they have an attachment for Spanish or Navajo is a function of the default of the schools—that is the only language that a vast majority can use effectively. To attribute this to the existence of a LULAC, or a GI Forum, or a Tribal Council is a product of a spurious correlation.

Sánchez went on, “Now, mind you, I am not decrying the fact that Spanish has persisted here. On the contrary, I am delighted. However, it has persisted for reasons (negative ones) which you do not treat rather than for the positive ones which you would attribute to organizational interest.”49 The failure of the two scholars to find a way to coexist was unfortunate. This creative tension could have been advantageous for both had they continued collaborating, especially given that Sánchez’s antisegregationist stipulation to his support of bilingual education foreshadowed what scholar Dolores Delgado Bernal writes was a troubling tension that developed in the 1970s and 1980s between the Chicano goals of bilingual education and desegregation.50

To Theodore Andersson, his longtime friend and colleague at the University of Texas, Sánchez continued the argument. Andersson connected Sánchez to his successors on Fishman’s project, Chester and Jane Macnab Christian. The Christians also experienced difficulty teasing out Mexican American linguistic agency and were worried, especially given the rejection of Sánchez’s essay, how their essay might fare. Though it was clearly not Andersson’s intention to provide the opportunity, Sánchez worked in a good gloat as well as a few final digs:

While I had no qualms over the matter, I am glad to learn that his findings [Chester Christian, the only correspondent here] coincide with mine: that is, that the maintenance of Spanish in the southwest is a function of the default of the schools rather than that of positive forces acting toward that end.

Sánchez’s pessimism was tempered, however: “I did remark that the failure of the schools was not an unmixed blessing (‘blessing’ doesn’t sound right!).” The past that Fishman was constructing was a useable one that could support more innovative language maintenance policies. And as much as Sánchez lauded pedagogical innovation with vernaculars, they remained for him such small potatoes compared with the widespread educational segregation that Mexican American children still experienced in the 1960s. In retrospect, though Sánchez was being intellectually obtuse over his interpretive difference with Fishman, he still had a point. Language policy was not a neutral, inconsequential notion for Mexican Americans, and especially for Sánchez, who had passionately fought this issue his whole career.51

But this was not the final word on Sánchez’s forlorn 40-plus page essay. In 1963, he presented a brief version of his material to the Southwest Conference on Social and Educational Problems of Rural and Urban Mexican American Youth at Occidental College in Los Angeles. His paper, now somewhat generically named “Spanish Influences in the Southwest,” was an attempt to grapple with the basic question that animated him about Fishman’s project and that he earlier had trouble articulating: “Why have these Americans of Spanish-Mexican background been so stubborn in relinquishing their vernaculars?” He answered that rather than being the result of “some wise head or institution or policy,” the stubborn persistence of Spanish in the Southwest “involved factors that are far less noble, far less intelligent, and much more negative than positive” and that this irony was “an eloquent illustration that [it] is indeed an ill wind that does not blow somebody some good.” In this paper, Sánchez had clearly thought about the differences between his view of history and Fishman’s. His arguments here no longer repetitively hammer at the same disagreement, but rather expand on it. For example, he now engaged the nation’s hypocritical stance on languages: “The United States’ office of Education is spending millions of dollars now trying to teach foreign languages in high schools, trying to teach foreign languages at the university level, etc. Here are these kids right in your schools who already know a foreign language.” “Why not cultivate it,” Sánchez asked? “Why don’t we capitalize on that resource? We don’t do it.”52 Sánchez regarded the paper as his way of addressing the “malpractice in the education of ‘Mexican’ youth” that ran counter to the deprivation trends then ascendant in educational thought.53

Sánchez’s old friend Julian Samora, a sociologist from the University of Notre Dame, asked him to give an expanded version of his talk to a 1965 San Francisco conference on Mexican Americans sponsored by the Rosenberg Foundation.54 The foundation later published the proceedings with Samora as editor. So Sánchez’s discarded essay from Fishman’s sociolinguistic project that was an essential text in the early bilingual education movement ended up instead as the keynote essay in one of the earliest academic attempts to come to terms with the new mood of ethnic militancy among younger Mexican Americans. This collection, published in 1966, anticipated not only the urgency, but also the language of the Chicano Movement then just bubbling to the surface, titled as it was La Raza: Forgotten Americans. Sánchez here lambasted any bilingual instruction that would purport to segregate children from one another. Instead, he urged schools to accord minority vernaculars an honorable status so that children from the dominant language would learn them as well. Here Sánchez groped toward an articulation of what we might call two-way bilingual education or dual-language immersion in all but name, but from a cultural and civic perspective rather than a linguistic one.55

The focus here was on people, not pedagogy. For George I. Sánchez, pedagogy was a malleable thing that might work or not, but it was the human relationships in the classroom that made the difference. In this sense, his criticism of the early bilingual education movement was that it did too little, not too much. In 1965, he criticized Andersson’s proposal for a foreign language laboratory at the University of Texas not because he disliked the idea, but because he felt the proposal was overly concerned with psychological and linguistic theory and not enough with the social backgrounds of the actual children to be helped. To the project director (not Andersson), Sánchez wrote, “Your FLEC proposal is an excellent one. I will be glad to help in any way that I can. One comment: you do not give proper emphasis to the study of the people being taught English or a foreign language or to the place of vernacular languages in education.” Sánchez continued, “These omissions are what have made such a travesty of the education of Spanish-speaking children in Texas. Don’t fall into the same old pattern.” To one education journal, he dismissed any notion of a language handicap for Mexican Americans: “We have handicapped schools, not handicapped children!”56

Sánchez was no newcomer to the concept of bilingual education. He had supported the bilingual approach in Puerto Rican classrooms since the 1940s. In the late 1950s, Sánchez mentored a student, Sam Frank Cheavens, of whose dissertation, “Vernacular Languages and Education,” he remained exceedingly proud.57 Sánchez always supported bilingual education provided it did not conflict with his uncompromising belief in total and complete integration. It is telling that Sánchez advocated for bilingual education through Chicano scholarship rather than through sociolinguistic scholarship. This complicates our understanding of him. His support of bilingual education was not simply that of an old left assimilationist attempting to remain hip with new-left militants; his support of bilingual education was not a manifestation of radical Hispanic militancy. Sánchez was far too nuanced for such simplistic interpretations. And for all his constant qualifications about bilingual education’s implementation, he did help Senator Ralph Yarborough’s office with its bilingual education bill in early 1967 as it made its way through congress and was enthusiastic about its possibilities.58

The totality of Sánchez’s hedging regarding the bilingual education movement and some of its leading lights from Joshua Fishman to Theodore Andersson amounted to this: he did not want the Mexican American child to be regarded as uneducable or as less then entirely equal to other children. His Occidental talk best communicates the sadness he felt at the wasted opportunities with regard to Mexican American children: “My thesis is simply that we have an opportunity in public education to make a contribution to American society. You see, our children, whether the mother tongue is English or Spanish, can become not simply Americans; they can become Americans-plus,” Sánchez pleaded. “They have something here. We have something. I am sorry to say I don’t think the schools are making the most of it. On that sad note I will close.”59


Is not the intent of this essay to make George I. Sánchez out to be some Cassandra-like prophet. The professor could also be dogmatically shortsighted in his insistence on the primacy of racial integration as a one-size-fits-all solution to any and all problems. The final episode of this essay examines how Sánchez, from the late 1950s until his death in the early 1970s, bitterly opposed the concept of preschool education programs for Mexican American children. These programs were designed for his people—either to help them avoid the language trap for segregation or to devote enrichment to the schooling of migrant students. He regarded these programs, however, as simply one more excuse for de facto racial segregation. In taking this position, he bucked his own Mexican American community. In reducing the enormous socioeconomic and political complexities of the situation to the single issue of integration, Sánchez advocated a purist ideal that was ineffective and even divisive.

Migrant farm laborers and their children’s education was a constant issue for Mexican American Generation leaders. LULAC initially focused on providing better schools for students who attended and exhorting parents whose children did not. One teacher from South Texas in 1955 asked Sánchez about how best to deal with the disruptiveness of migrancy at her school. Sánchez’s initial response was ideologically consistent on this issue for a Mexican American Generation activist (1930s to the 1960s), which is also to say, not terribly helpful: “Obviously, the only solution to the problem of the education of migrant children is to keep them from migrating! We cannot give a child a nine-month education in three.” After having his say about what ought to be, Sánchez more usefully listed some short-term strategies to help diminish the deleterious effects of the situation:

First, the school should do everything to encourage fuller attendance—visiting teachers, attendance officers, free lunches, attractive school offerings, etc. It should carefully ‘screen’ the migrants as they enter school so as to place them in regular classrooms with normal children whose age and achievement is more or less like theirs.

But most of all, according to Sánchez, schools must realize that “one of the worst features of migrancy is the isolation of the migrant children from normal contacts; and the school should not accentuate that isolation by separating migrant children from the other children in the school.”60

Apart from the migrancy issue, a Houston LULAC group lead by restaurateur Felix Tijerina had already been working on getting their community’s children to participate in a preschool radio program designed to instruct enough English vocabulary words to spur their children’s placement into regular (integrated) classes rather than to special (segregated) language classes. Called the Little Schools of the 400 because of the 400 English words the radio programs were designed to instruct to four- and five-year-old children over three summer months, this LULAC program was picked up by the state of Texas as a key component to its development of a cluster of specialized compensatory education programs in the 1960s. The state-funded endeavor came to be called the Preschool Instructional Program. Historians, including this one, have usually lauded LULAC’s efforts in this instance as evidence of Mexican American agency and success during the heyday of Jim Crow.61

But Sánchez always disapproved of the program. He made his opposition known early on when the politically conservative Tijerina became LULAC’s national president and trumpeted the program. Sánchez complained that Tijerina, who was not a professional educator, bamboozled LULAC by claiming success for this preschool program that, in Sánchez’s mind, simply confirmed to local segregationists that Mexican American children did indeed have a serious, recognizable language handicap that necessitated months of special intensive preschool instruction apart from the English-speaking children: “But, now, here comes Tijerina, the expert and saviour, in the great tradition of the segregation of Mexicans, saying ‘a little bit of segregation is good!’” To a national LULAC convention, Sánchez sent a statement opposing the preschool program:

Ladies and gentlemen, I am unalterably opposed to segregation whether that segregation be set up with good intentions or with bad ones, whether in some respects it be beneficient [sic] or whether it is all bad. The endorsement of special classes in public schools for our little children who may know only Spanish at the age of six is segregation—genteel segregation, to be sure, but segregation nonetheless.

He also argued, “I deny that a foreign mother-tongue is that kind of a handicap.” Sánchez did not have many allies on this issue. The Little Schools of the 400 went down in collective memory as a success, and Mexican Americans would be commonly regarded later in the 1960s as one of those groups needing special, compensatory instruction to overcome alleged educational deficiencies, much to Sánchez’s chagrin.62

Sánchez’s opposition was mystifying to white liberals in Texas who supported the preschool program. Not only did he call them out for endorsing what he regarded as segregation, but he also challenged their cosmopolitan pretensions because of their implicit disregard for the dignity of the Spanish language. To friend Ronnie Dugger, legendary editor of the liberal paper the Texas Observer and a supporter of the preschool program for Mexican American children, Sánchez asked, “if ‘language handicap’ can be removed in a few short weeks during the summer, why can it not be removed in a few short weeks during the regular year?” The issue brought out Sánchez’s ethnic pride: “To treat a child to genteel segregation because he knows only Spanish is a frightening distortion of good intentions. Then, too, to attach the idea of deficiency and handicap to so beautiful and valuable a language as Spanish hardly fits in with modern educational thought and national policy.” Though still somewhat mystified at how more and better schools could be a bad thing, Dugger continued to consult with Sánchez on Mexican American issues and valued his friend’s perspective.63

Sánchez saved his most biting remarks for his old nemesis, TEA Commissioner J. W. Edgar. Ironically, a general Sánchez complaint to Edgar in 1954 actually stimulated the very study that came up with the policy recommendations that included the preschool program that he would later so bitterly oppose. Complaining that other states had long surpassed Texas in research on Mexican American education, Sánchez postulated that the lively issue of racial discrimination had scared TEA away from its duty to more fully understand this group. Edgar enthusiastically ordered his agency to create a task force to study Mexican American education in the summer of 1954. It was a multiyear project designed to culminate in policy recommendations. Initially, Sánchez was excited that the state seemed to have awakened to its obligation to better understand its own students. The resulting Preschool Instructional Program for Non-English-Speaking Children in 1960 was thus a bitter disappointment to him. In Sánchez’s view, not only was the state’s adoption of the LULAC approach to preschool intensive English instruction an extension of that agency’s segregationist obfuscation throughout the 1950s, but it also ignored the few recommendations he had been given the chance to make. He nursed such hard feelings about it that he refused to participate in campus events honoring Edgar for worry that his presence would be seen as a tacit endorsement of segregation.64

Sánchez protested vehemently to Edgar about the state’s expansion of its preschool program to encompass migrant students. The Political Association of Spanish-Speaking Organizations (PASSO), an outgrowth of the Mexican American Viva Kennedy Clubs of the 1960 presidential campaign, was another group to which Sánchez belonged. Speaking for PASSO, Sánchez in 1963 argued that the programs were nothing more than “a back-door reinstatement of the kind of school segregation against which their leaders have fought for many years.” Edgar exasperatedly responded that the Texas Migrant Project was a part of the TEA’s push on special education programs for many groups and that they did not segregate by race. Sánchez responded that the other special programs mentioned by Edgar were not conducted in a segregated atmosphere and that the preschool program was. Sánchez pressed the point so hard that a state board of education member who had somehow gained access to the correspondence (likely through a frustrated Edgar) directed the agency to no longer consult with Sánchez. When this board member cheekily sent Sánchez a carbon of his instructions to Edgar, Sánchez responded with a characteristically angry defense of his professional expertise, along with a threat to Edgar that he and PASSO would become much more politically engaged with the issue.65

Throughout the 1960s, Sánchez continued his campaign to educate a broader community of engaged, liberal citizens of the state, largely through the pages of the Texas Observer, to stop regarding Mexican American children as a problem and instead regard them as an opportunity. Of the proliferating body of educational experts making claims to Mexican Americans’ inherent cultural deprivation, Sánchez fulminated, “They impose retardation on such children and they add to that imposition throughout the educational process—by having the children repeat grades, by ‘genteel segregation,’ by watering down the curriculum, by using improper criteria for measuring progress, by suppressing Spanish, and by a great many other professionally shameful malpractices.” He elaborated on the unfair conditions in which Mexican American children were asked to learn, including “over-crowded classrooms, teachers and principals selected catch-as-catch-can, prohibitions (the Spanish language, for instance) that demean him and his family, failure to give due credit to his culture (in teaching Texas history, for example),” and he wondered at how some Mexican American students stuck with school at all. He remarked,

What would you do if, at the age of 12 or 13, you were still in the third grade, in a school where you, your parents, your culture were stigmatized? You would drop out of school, and so would I—assuming that we could have taken that kind of pushing around that long.66

One has to conclude, however, that Sánchez’s passionate opposition to the preschool and migrant programs was, nevertheless, ineffectual. As Barbara Beatty’s essay in this collection demonstrates, preschool education was a central component of compensatory education. And, as seconded by the Sylvia Martinez and John Rury essay, many Mexican Americans liked that these programs existed and were geared toward their children.67 There was a point of organizational pride with LULAC over the preschool matter that makes their disinterest in Sánchez’s ideas unsurprising even though he had been president of the organization during World War II. Sánchez took his complaints to surprisingly high levels. He vainly protested to former Florida governor Leroy Collins, then director of the Community Relations Service at the Department of Commerce. This agency contained an advisory committee to provide feedback on desegregation issues, and Sánchez was a member. The responses not just from many Mexican Americans but also from white moderates and liberals were decidedly unsympathetic.68

Up until his death, Sánchez still felt hot enough about the migrant issue to send letters to a widening audience, including conservative Republican U. S. senator from Texas John Tower, liberal U. S. senator from Texas Ralph Yarborough, the U. S. Commission on Civil Rights, the U. S. Office of Education, and the American G. I. Forum, a Mexican American activist group led by friend Hector P. Garcia, a Corpus Christi physician and confidant of President Lyndon Baines Johnson. Unable to constrain himself to Garcia, then a member of the nation’s Civil Rights Commission, Sánchez reminded him that many other adornments of the Great Society were implicated in the mire of local segregationist impulses: “By the way, ‘Head Start’ is a segregated operation in most places in Central and South Texas.” Sánchez further remarked, “Doctor, we don’t have to put up with this bull manure. In the Legislature let us demand hearings when the appropriations bill for the TEA (and Board) come up.”69

Sánchez fought a powerful wind on this issue. Bilingual education, special preschool English instruction, and migrant education were programs the Mexican American community mostly regarded as beneficial, though Sánchez’s early suspicions about compensatory education principles were not entirely unfounded. By the later 1960s and early 1970s, as essays in this collection document, a host of critics attacked compensatory education from the right on IQ testing, from the left on income redistribution, and from the perspective of minority communities over how, they asserted, compensatory education normalized failure and lowered expectations.70

George I. Sánchez was a passionate civil rights warrior and dogged defender of Mexican American educability. Though his uncompromising ideal of integration occasionally led to divisiveness and disharmony, even among supporters, it came from an accurate understanding not only of his own life’s work as an activist and intellectual but also of how his people had been treated throughout history. His New Deal efforts in New Mexico during the 1930s, his frustrating struggle against segregated schools in Texas during the 1940s and 1950s, his intellectual marginality to the national bilingual education movement, and his vituperative opposition to a popular preschool program in the 1960s demonstrate how Sánchez’s articulation of the Mexican American educational experience sheds a somewhat different kind of light on compensatory education of the 1960s. In some ways, he was both ahead of and behind the times. His resistance illustrates that support for compensatory education was never monolithic among different groups. That Sánchez’s views were not influential or perhaps even known by many of the leading compensatory education thinkers says a great deal not only about compensatory education but also about the struggle against invisibility that Mexican Americans have waged for well over a century in the United States. And knowledge of this experience could have been beneficial. A greater awareness of the Mexican American educational experience could have pushed compensatory education thinkers beyond a black-white binary mode of thought. A greater appreciation of history, especially how curricular innovation could serve the ends of racists attempting to segregate, could have helped compensatory education thinkers formulate a more nuanced perspective on the problems they documented and the solutions they suggested.

Hope and the willingness to address injustice were at the core of George I. Sánchez’s message. This meant that despite his many setbacks and disappointments as an activist and as a scholar, he remained ever hopeful that education could positively change the world. Any kind of schooling that championed this theme then (and now) would garner his support, whether it fell under a compensatory education label or not, and as long as it did not promote segregation. Sánchez’s struggle to overcome his people’s sad legacy of neglect and do his part to more fully integrate them into all facets of national life is a story that should be important in this era of incredible Latino demographic explosion as well as the reevaluations of where our schools are, what it is that they should do, and how they should be doing it.


1. I am currently writing a book-length biography of Sánchez that I hope to complete in 2012.

2. Julie Leininger Pycior, LBJ & Mexican Americans: The Paradox of Power (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1997), 186.

3. Richard Delgado and Jean Stefancic, Critical Race Theory: An Introduction (New York: NYU Press, 2001), 67–74; Nancy Hewitt, introduction to Beyond Black & White: Race, Ethnicity, and Gender in the U.S. South and Southwest, ed. Stephanie Cole and Alison M. Parker (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 2004), xi–xxviii.

4. Frank Riessman, “The Culturally Deprived Child: A New View,” School Life 45, no. 5–7 (February 1963): 337–47; Martin Deutsch, The Disadvantaged Child: Selected Papers of Martin Deutsch and Associates (New York: Basic Books, 1967).

5. Diane Ravitch, The Troubled Crusade: American Education, 1945–1980 (New York: Basic Books, 1983), 150; Wayne J. Urban, “What’s in a Name: Education and the Disadvantaged American (1962),” Paedagogia Historica 45, no. 1/2 (February 2009): 251–64.

6. Ravitch, Troubled Crusade, 150 (first and second quotations); Deutsch, The Disadvantaged Child, 372 (third quotation).

7. Mario T. García, Mexican Americans: Leadership, Ideology, and Identity, 1930–1960 (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1989), 270 (quotations). In this book’s chapter devoted to Sánchez and in his introduction to the reissue of Sánchez’s magnum opus, Forgotten People, historian Mario T. García convincingly distills Sánchez’s vision and his activist life.

8. For more on Sánchez’s life, see García, Mexican Americans, 252–72; Steven L. Schlossman, “Self Evident Remedy? George I. Sánchez, Segregation, and Enduring Dilemmas in Bilingual Education,” Teachers College Record 84, no. 4 (Summer 1983): 871–907; Gladys R. Leff, “George I. Sánchez: Don Quixote of the Southwest” (PhD diss., University of North Texas, Denton, 1976); James Nelson Mowry, “A Study of the Educational Thought and Action of George I. Sánchez” (PhD diss., University of Texas, Austin, 1977); Michael Welsh, “A Prophet Without Honor: George I. Sánchez and Bilingualism in New Mexico,” New Mexico Historical Review 69, no. 1 (January 1994): 19–34; Carlos Kevin Blanton, “George I. Sánchez, Ideology, and Whiteness in the Making of the Mexican American Generation, 1930–1960,” Journal of Southern History 72, no. 3 (August 2006): 569–604; Lynn M. Getz, “The Quaker, the Primitivist, and the Progressive: Three Cultural Brokers in New Mexico’s Quest for Multiracial Harmony,” Journal of the Gilded Age and the Progressive Era 9, no. 2 (April 2010): 243–56.

9. García, Mexican Americans, 270.

10. Sánchez, Forgotten People: A Study of New Mexicans (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1940, 1967, 1996), xvi; “Albuquerque Tribune, October 9, 1939,” university press release, UNM, GIS Vertical File (this is from the University of New Mexico Zimmerman Archives at Albuquerque, New Mexico); “Dr. George I. Sánchez,” university biographical statement, UNM, GIS, Vertical File. Though it sounds like not terribly much, this amount would be over $60,000 in value today, a very respectable grant to offset a professor’s salary for a research project lasting an academic year.

11. Sánchez, Forgotten People, xvi–xvii; Blanton, “George I. Sánchez, Ideology, and Whiteness,” 575.

12. Sánchez, Forgotten People, 27 (quotations), 29–35.

13. For more on Sánchez’s environmentalist perspective, see Carlos Kevin Blanton, “From Intellectual Deficiency to Cultural Deficiency: Mexican Americans, Testing, and Public School Policy in the American Southwest, 1920–1940,” Pacific Historical Review 72, no. 1 (February 2003): 39–62. For the same trend with regard to African Americans, see Daryl Michael Scott, Contempt & Pity: Social Policy and the Image of the Damaged Black Psyche, 1880–1996 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1997).

14. Getz, “The Quaker, the Primitivist, and the Progressive,” 254.

15. Sánchez, Forgotten People, 28 (quotations).

16. Sánchez, Forgotten People, 98 (quotations); Rámon Saldívar, The Borderlands of Culture: Américo Paredes and the Transnational Imaginary (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2006), 229–30.

17. For a fuller understanding of this general outline of educational discrimination, see Carlos Kevin Blanton, The Strange Career of Bilingual Education in Texas, 1836–1981 (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 2004); Guadalupe San Miguel, Jr., “Let All of Them Take Heed”: Mexican Americans and the Campaign for Educational Equality in Texas, 1910–1981 (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1987); Guadalupe San Miguel Jr. and Richard R. Valencia, “From the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo to Hopwood: The Educational Plight and Struggle of Mexican Americans in the Southwest,” Harvard Educational Review 68 (Fall 1998): 353–412; and Richard R. Valencia, Chicano Students and the Courts: The Mexican American Legal Struggle for Educational Equality (New York: New York University Press, 2008).

18. For more on the development of Progressive Era language teaching, see Carlos Kevin Blanton, “The Rise of English-Only Pedagogy: Immigrant Children, Progressive Education, and Language Policy in the United States, 1900–1930,” in When Science Encounters the Child: Education, Parenting, and Child Welfare in Twentieth Century America, ed. Julia Grant, Barbara Beatty, and Emily D. Cahan (New York: Teachers College Press, 2006), 56–76.

19. George I. Sánchez, “History, Culture, and Education,” in La Raza: Forgotten Americans, ed. Julian Samora (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 1966), 18. In “Self Evident Remedy,” historian Steven Schlossman discusses Sánchez’s ambivalence on vernacular instruction. While agreeing that such hesitancy existed, this essay instead argues that it was less about negative assessments of bilingual education as a policy than it was about the anxiety over potential linguistic segregation.

20. George I. Sánchez to Fred McCuistion, October 29, 1946, Box 515, Folder 5491, GEB, RAC (this is from the General Education Board Papers at the Rockefeller Archives Center in Sleepy Hollow, New York); Fred McCuistion to George I. Sánchez, November 27, 1946, Box 515, Folder 5491, GEB, RAC; George I. Sánchez to Fred McCuistion, February 4, 1947, Box 515, Folder 5491, GEB, RAC.

21. George I. Sánchez to Fred McCuistion, January 14, 1947, Box 515, Folder 5491, GEB, RAC (quotations); George I. Sánchez to J. G. Flowers, January 7, 1957, Box 515, Folder 5491, GEB, RAC.

22. Fred McCuistion to George I. Sánchez, January 22, 1947, Box 515, Folder 5491, GEB, RAC (quotations); George I. Sánchez to Fred McCuistion, January 30, 1947, Box 515, Folder 5491, GEB, RAC.

23. George I. Sánchez to Roger Baldwin, September 15, 1942, Box 2, Folder 17, GIS, NLB; Roger Baldwin to George I. Sánchez, September 18, 1942, Box 2, Folder 17, GIS, NLB; Lisa Y. Ramos, “Forgotten, But in Different Ways: Mexican American and African American Civil Rights Struggles,” in The Struggle in Black and Brown: African American and Mexican American Relations During the Civil Rights Era, ed. Brian Behnken (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, forthcoming).

24. Joe R. Greenhill to Wayne J. Hartman, April 8, 1947, “Opinion No. V-128,” Box 32, Folder 15, GIS, NLB (this is from the George I. Sánchez Papers at the Nettie Lee Benson Latin American Center at the University of Texas at Austin); Gus C. Garcia, Robert Eckhardt, and A. L. Wirin, “Memorandum of Points and Authorities in Support of Plaintiffs Application for Injunction Pedente Lite” [undated, likely May 1947], Box 32, Folder 14, GIS, NLB. Daniel was elected once as a United States senator and then three times as governor over the next decade and a half. The Sánchez Papers were reorganized in the middle of this research, which spanned an older system of organization, a transitional system while the reorganization proceeded, and the final system of organization. All references to the Sánchez Papers will be from the newer, final system of organization unless separately noted in brackets by “old system” or “transitional system.”

25. George I. Sánchez to Joe R. Greenhill, May 8, 1947, 3 (first quotation), 1 (second quotation), Box 32, Folder 15, GIS, NLB; George I. Sánchez to Beauford T. Jester, May 15, 1947, Box 32, Folder 15, GIS, NLB, 1 (final quotation); Gus C. Garcia to Price Daniel, August 13, 1947, Box 32, Folder 15, GIS, NLB; Price Daniel to Gus C. Garcia, August 21, 1947, Box 32, Folder 15, GIS, NLB; Cristobal P. Aldrete to Price Daniel, July 28, 1947, Box 32, Folder 15, GIS, NLB; and Rafael H. Flores to George I. Sánchez, August 14, 1947, Box 32, Folder 15, GIS, NLB.

26. George I. Sánchez to Price Daniel et al., August 15, 1947, Box 32, Folder 15, GIS, NLB, 1–3; Edgar L. Swindle to George I. Sánchez, January 13, 1949, Box 4, Folder 4, GIS, NLB [old system]; George I. Sánchez to Edgar L. Swindle, January 18, 1949, Box 4, Folder 4, GIS, NLB [old system] (quotations).

27. “Digest of Second Conference, 1948: School and Community Adaptations in Intergroup Relations,” July 30–31, 1948, Box 4, Folder 3, GIS, NLB [old system], 6–11, 6 (first quotation), 7 (remaining quotations), original underlining used. Colorado State Teachers College in Greeley was an especially hostile environment for Mexican Americans during the 1940s and 1950s. For more on this, see Rubén Donato, Mexicans and Hispanos in Colorado Schools and Communities, 1920–1960 (Albany: State University of New York Press, 2007), 118–19.

28. John P. Spencer, “From ‘Cultural Deprivation’ to Cultural Capital: The Roots and Continued Relevance of Compensatory Education,” in “Rethinking Compensatory Education: Historical Perspectives on Race, Class, Culture, Language, and the Discourse of the ‘Disadvantaged Child,’” ed. Barbara Beatty, special issue, Teachers College Record 114, no. 6.

29. George I. Sánchez, “Concerning American Minorities,” in Proceedings of the Fifth Annual Conference, Southwest Council on the Education of Spanish-Speaking People at George Pepperdine College, Los Angeles, California, January 18-20, 1951, Box 57, Folder 8, GIS, NLB, 51–52 (first quotation), 52–53 (second quotation).

30. Kenneth B. Clark, “Eighteen Years After Brown,” Integrated Education 10, no. 6 (1972): 10–11 (quotation); Kenneth B. Clark, “How Children Living in Ghettos Should Be Taught,” Chicago Tribune, September 11, 1971, 10.

31. Joe R. Greenhill to Price Daniel, April 8, 1947, “Segregation in Schools, 1943, 1947–48,” Box 38, Folder 7 [old system]; George I. Sánchez to Joe R. Greenhill, May 8, 1947, “Segregation in Schools, 1943, 1947–48,” Box 38, Folder 7 [old system], GIS, NLB. For a standard account of this period of Mexican American activism over schools, see Guadalupe San Miguel Jr., “The Struggle Against Separate and Unequal Schools,” History of Education Quarterly 23 (1983): 343–59.

32. Gene B. Preuss, To Get a Better School System: One Hundred Years of Education Reform in Texas (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 2009), 77–93.

33. J. W. Edgar to George I. Sánchez, April 26, 1950, Box 34, Folder 12, GIS, NLB; J. W. Edgar to George I. Sánchez, May 15, 1950, GIS, NLB; Texas Education Agency, May 8, 1950, “Statement of Policy Pertaining to Segregation of Latin-American Children,” GIS, NLB, Box 34, Folder 12 (quotations).

34. San Miguel, “Let All of Them Take Heed,” 131–132. San Miguel locates additional disputes in Hondo, Mathis, and Kingsville.

35. J. W. Edgar to George I. Sánchez, March 8, 1951, Box 34, Folder 12, GIS, NLB; George I. Sánchez to J. W. Edgar, March 16, 1951, Box 34, Folder 12, GIS, NLB, 2 (quotation).

36. J. W. Edgar to Gus C. Garcia, October 3, 1951, Box 34, Folder 12, GIS, NLB.

37. George I. Sánchez to Cristobal P. Aldrete, February 4, 1952, Box 5, Folder 1, GIS, NLB [old system]; Cristobal P. Aldrete to George I. Sánchez, June 20, 1953, Box 5, Folder 1, GIS, NLB [old system]; J. W. Edgar to James Caroline, June 18, 1953, Box 5, Folder 1, GIS, NLB [old system]; Cristobal P. Aldrete to D. S. Watkins, August 15, 1952, Box 34, Folder 12, GIS, NLB; J. W. Edgar, “Mrs. Refugio Perez et al v. Terrell County Common School District No. 1,” June 10, 1953, Box 34, Folder 12, GIS, NLB.

38. George I. Sánchez to Bascom Hayes, June 26, 1952, Box 34, Folder 12, GIS, NLB; Bascom Hayes, July 1, 1952, Box 34, Folder 12, GIS, NLB; J. W. Edgar to W. S. McCree, August 12, 1953, Box 34, Folder 12, GIS, NLB; J. W. Edgar, “Marcos Barraza, et al. v. Board of Trustees, Pecos ISD,” July 28, 1953, Box 34, Folder 12, GIS, NLB; Frank M. Pinedo to J. W. Edgar, July 7, 1953, Box 34, Folder 12, GIS, NLB.

39. Cristobal P. Aldrete to J. W. Edgar, September 18, 1954, Box 5, Folder 1, GIS, NLB [old system]; Cristobal P. Aldrete to George I. Sánchez, November 9, 1954, Box 5, Folder 1, GIS, NLB [old system]; George I. Sánchez to Cristobal P. Aldrete, November 10, 1954, Box 5, Folder 1, GIS, NLB [old system] (first quotation), (original underlining used); George I. Sánchez to Cristobal P. Aldrete, November 19, 1954, Box 5, Folder 1, GIS, NLB [old system]; Murry R. Garner to J. W. Edgar, November 9, 1954, Box 5, Folder 1, GIS, NLB [old system]; Cristobal P. Aldrete to J. W. Edgar, December 1, 1954, GIS, NLB [old system]; J. W. Edgar to Cristobal P. Aldrete, December 3, 1954, Box 5, Folder 1, GIS, NLB [old system]; George I. Sánchez to Carlos C. Cadena, September 22, 1954, Box 9, Folder 2, GIS, NLB (remaining quotations), original underlining included.

40. George I. Sánchez to J. W. Edgar, November 29, 1954, Box 34, Folder 12, GIS, NLB, 2 (first two quotations); Cristobal P. Aldrete to J. W. Edgar, December 31, 1954, Box 5, Folder 1, GIS, NLB [old system]; George I. Sánchez to Cristobal P. Aldrete, April 20, 1955, Box 5, Folder 1, GIS, NLB [old system]; George I. Sánchez to Cristobal P. Aldrete, May 3, 1955, Box 5, Folder 1, GIS, NLB [old system]; George I. Sánchez to Cristobal P. Aldrete, May 25, 1955, Box 10, Folder 1, GIS, NLB; Robert N. Oman to Cristobal P. Aldrete, June 10, 1955, Box 10, Folder 1, GIS, NLB; Cristobal P. Aldrete to George I. Sánchez, June 25, 1955, Box 10, Folder 1, GIS, NLB; George I. Sánchez to Carlos C. Cadena, April 15, 1955, Box 9, Folder 2, GIS, NLB (third quotation); Carlos C. Cadena to George I. Sánchez, April 20, 1955, Box 9, Folder 2, GIS, NLB; George I. Sánchez to Carlos C. Cadena, April 22, 1955, Box 9, Folder 2, GIS, NLB.

41. Henry B. Gonzalez to George I. Sánchez, January 12, 1959, Box 8, Folder 7, GIS, NLB [old system]; George I. Sánchez to Henry B. Gonzalez, January 16, 1959, Box 8, Folder 7, GIS, NLB [old system]; George I. Sánchez to James de Anda, November 8, 1956, Box 12, Folder 6, GIS, NLB (quotations); Ronnie Dugger, Our Invaded Universities: Form, Reform, and New Starts (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1974), 117–19; Américo Paredes, “Jorge Isidoro Sánchez y Sánchez (1906–1972),” in Humanidad: Essays in Honor of George I. Sánchez, ed. Américo Paredes (Los Angeles: Chicano Studies Center Publications, University of California at Los Angeles, 1977), 125.

42. San Miguel, “Let All of Them Take Heed,” 134 (quotation).

43. Sánchez, “Concerning American Minorities,” 54 (quotations).

44. Joshua A. Fishman, ed., Language Loyalty in the United States: The Maintenance and Perpetuation of Non-English Mother Tongues by American Ethnic and Religious Groups (The Hague, The Netherlands: Mouton & Co., 1966). For an interpretation of bilingual education as simply one more compensatory program for one more voting block seeking one more entitlement, see Hugh Davis Graham, The Uncertain Triumph: Federal Education Policy in the Kennedy and Johnson Years (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1984), 155–60.

45. Joshua A. Fishman to George I. Sánchez, January 6, 1959, Box 8, Folder 6, GIS, NLB [old system]; George I. Sánchez to Joshua A. Fishman, January 16, 1959, Box 8, Folder 6, GIS, NLB [old system]; Joshua A. Fishman, undated project description, “Survey of Language Resources of American Ethnic Groups, Sponsored by U.S. Office of Education,” Box 8, Folder 6, GIS, NLB [old system]; Joshua A. Fishman to George I. Sánchez, May 15, 1961, Box 8, Folder 6, GIS, NLB, [old system], quotations.

46. George I. Sánchez to Joshua A. Fishman, May 30, 1961, Box 8, Folder 6 [old system], GIS, NLB, (quotations); Joshua A. Fishman to George I. Sánchez, June 5, 1961, Box 8, Folder 6, GIS, NLB [old system]; George I. Sánchez to Joshua A. Fishman, June 20, 1961, Box 8, Folder 6, GIS, NLB [old system].

47. Joshua A. Fishman to George I. Sánchez, October 10, 1961, Box 8, Folder 6, GIS, NLB [old system]; George I. Sánchez to Joshua A. Fishman, October 17, 1961, Box 8, Folder 6, GIS, NLB, [old system], quotation; Joshua A. Fishman to George I. Sánchez, October 19, 1961, Box 8, Folder 6, GIS, NLB [old system].

48. George I. Sánchez to Joshua A. Fishman, June 17, 1963, Box 8, Folder 6, GIS, NLB [old system], 1–2.

49. Ibid., 2 (original underlining included).

50. Dolores Delgado Bernal, “Chicana/o Education From the Civil Rights Era to the Present,” in The Elusive Quest for Equality: 150 Years of Chicano/Chicana Education, ed. José F. Moreno (Cambridge, MA: Harvard Educational Review, 1999), 90–91.

51. Theodore Andersson to George I. Sánchez, May 1, 1957, Box 5, Folder 5, GIS, NLB; George I. Sánchez to Theodore Andersson, May 10, 1957, Box 5, Folder 5, GIS, NLB; Theodore Andersson to George I. Sánchez, June 11, 1963, Box 5, Folder 5, GIS, NLB; Theodore Andersson to George I. Sánchez, July 10, 1963, Box 5, Folder 5, GIS, NLB; Chester Christian to Theodore Andersson, July 5, 1963, Box 5, Folder 5, GIS, NLB; George I. Sánchez to Theodore Andersson, July 17, 1963, Box 5, Folder 5, GIS, NLB (quotations).

52. George I. Sánchez, “Spanish Influences in the Southwest,” April 6, 1963, Box 14, Folder 3, GIS, NLB, 1 (first two quotations); 2 (third, fourth, and fifth quotations), 4 (remaining quotations), original underlining used.

53. George I. Sánchez to Paul M. Sheldon, March 12, 1963, Box 14, Folder 3, GIS, NLB; George I. Sánchez to Paul M. Sheldon, March 22, 1963, Box 14, Folder 3, GIS, NLB (quotation).

54. For more on this major Mexican American educator whom Sánchez in the 1940s and 1950s informally mentored from afar, see Alberto Lopez Pulido, Barbara Driscoll de Alvarado, and Carmen Samora, eds., Moving Beyond Borders: Julian Samora and the Establishment of Latino Studies (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2009).

55. Julian Samora to George I. Sánchez, December 23, 1964, Box 14, Folder 10, GIS, NLB; George I. Sánchez to Julian Samora, January 4, 1965, Box 14, Folder 10, GIS, NLB; George I. Sánchez to Julian Samora, January 29, 1965, Box 14, Folder 10, GIS, NLB; Sánchez, “History, Culture, and Education,” 20–21; Julian Samora to George I. Sánchez, May 10, 1966, Box 31, Folder 22, GIS, NLB; George I. Sánchez to Julian Samora, May 12, 1966, Box 31, Folder 22, GIS, NLB. This interpretation of Sánchez’s support of bilingual education has evolved somewhat from my earlier one in The Strange Career of Bilingual Education in Texas, 1836–1981. Sánchez planned to use this explorative essay as the stem piece of a future book on this subject. He never got to it. Therefore, this particular essay stands out as one of his final academic contributions on the subject of Mexican American education.

56. George I. Sánchez to Joseph Michel, December 16, 1965, Box 10, Folder 13, GIS, NLB [old system], first and second quotation, original underlining used; Richard S. Alm to George I. Sánchez, September 12, 1961, Box 8, Folder 1, GIS, NLB [old system]; George I. Sánchez to Richard S. Alm, September 23, 1961, Box 8, Folder 1, GIS, NLB [old system], final quotation; George I. Sánchez to Richard S. Alm, December 15, 1961, Box 8, Folder 1, GIS, NLB [old system].

57. Pedro A. Cebollero to George I. Sánchez, April 9, 1947, Box 10, Folder 8, GIS, NLB; George I. Sánchez to William Madsen, October 12, 1959, Box 9, Folder 5, GIS, NLB [old system]; Sam Frank Cheavens, “Vernacular Languages and Education” (PhD diss., University of Texas at Austin, 1957).

58. George I. Sánchez to Joe Alaniz, May 26, 1967, Box 46, Folder 12, GIS, NLB; Graham, Uncertain Triumph, 159.

59. Sánchez, “Spanish Influences in the Southwest,” 4, 5 (quotations).

60. Hortencia Salinas to George I. Sánchez, February 8, 1955, Box 7, Folder 5, GIS, NLB [old system]; George I. Sánchez to Hortencia Salinas , February 11, 1955, Box 7, Folder 5, GIS, NLB [old system], quotations.

61. Blanton, Strange Career of Bilingual Education, 122–23; San Miguel, “Let All of Them Take Heed,” 139–63.

62. George I. Sánchez to Albert Armendariz, June 23, 1959, Box 22, Folder 14, GIS, NLB (first quotation); George I. Sánchez, “A Message to LULAC,” undated [likely late June 1959], Box 22, Folder 14, GIS, NBL, 2 (remaining quotations); Theodore T. Fong, December 16, 1964, Box 10, Folder 6, GIS, NLB [old system]; George I. Sánchez to Theodore T. Fong, December 22, 1964, Box 10, Folder 6, GIS, NLB [old system]. For more on Tijerina, see Thomas H. Kreneck, Mexican American Odyssey: Felix Tijerina, Entrepreneur & Civic Leader, 1905–1965 (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 2001).

63. George I. Sánchez to Ronnie Dugger, December 12, 1958, Box 34, Folder 16, GIS, NLB; George I. Sánchez to Ronnie Dugger, August 10, 1959, Box 34, Folder 16, GIS NLB; Ronnie Dugger to George I. Sánchez, August 14, 1959, Box 34, Folder 16, GIS, NLB; George I. Sánchez to Ronnie Dugger, August 18, 1959, Box 34, Folder 16, GIS, NLB, 1–2; George I. Sánchez, “Pre-School for All,” Texas Observer, September 4, 1959, 7 (quotations).

64. George I. Sánchez to J. W. Edgar, April 1, 1954, Box 34, Folder 12, GIS, NLB; J. W. Edgar to George I. Sánchez, May 11, 1954, Box 34, Folder 12, GIS, NLB; Bascom Hayes to George I. Sánchez, June 8, 1954, Box 34, Folder 12, GIS, NLB; George I. Sánchez to Bascom Hayes, June 9, 1954, Box 34, Folder 12, GIS, NLB; Bascom Hayes to George I. Sánchez, June 21, 1954, Box 34, Folder 12, GIS, NLB; J. Warren Hitt to George I. Sánchez, March 6, 1958, Box 34, Folder 13, GIS, NLB; George I. Sánchez to J. Warren Hitt, March 12, 1958, Box 34, Folder 13; TEA, “Report of Pupils in Texas Public Schools Having Spanish Surnames, 1955–56,” August 1957, Box 34, Folder 13, GIS, NLB, 1–16; Thomas S. Pickens to George I. Sánchez, December 2, 1959, Box 26, Folder 2, GIS, NLB; Lee Wilborn to George I. Sánchez, February 10, 1960, Box 26, Folder 2, GIS, NLB; George I. Sánchez to Lee Wilborn, February 16, 1960, Box 26, Folder 2, GIS, NLB; George I. Sánchez to Lee Wilborn, April 11, 1960, Box 26, Folder 2, GIS, NLB; George I. Sánchez to Lawrence A. Rutledge, September 22, 1960, Box 9, Folder 10, GIS, NLB [old system]; Bascom Hayes to Mary Alderson et al., December 18, 1961, Box 34, Folder 14, GIS, NLB; George I. Sánchez to Bascom Hayes et al., January 3, 1962, Box 34, Folder 14, GIS, NLB.

65. George I. Sánchez to J. W. Edgar, December 16, 1963, Box 34, Folder 14, GIS, NLB (quotations); J. W. Edgar to George I. Sánchez, January 8, 1964, Box 34, Folder 14, GIS, NLB; George I. Sánchez to J. W. Edgar, January 13, 1964, Box 34, Folder 14, GIS, NLB; R. W. Byram to J. W. Edgar, January 13, 1964, Box 34, Folder 14, GIS, NLB; George I. Sánchez to R. W. Byram, January 16, 1964, Box 34, Folder 14, GIS, NLB; George I. Sánchez to J. W. Edgar, January 21, 1964, Box 34, Folder 14, GIS, NLB.

66. George I. Sánchez, “A Communication,” Texas Observer, August 23, 1963, 4–5, 5 (quotations). Original italics used.

67. Barbara Beatty, “The Debate over the Young ‘Disadvantaged Child’: Preschool Intervention, Developmental Psychology, and Compensatory Education in the 1960s and Early 1970s,” in “Rethinking Compensatory Education: Historical Perspectives on Race, Class, Culture, Language, and the Discourse of the ‘Disadvantaged Child,’” ed. Barbara Beatty, special issue, Teachers College Record 114(6).

68. George I. Sánchez to William Bonilla, September 8, 1964, Box 34, Folder 14, GIS, NLB; George I. Sánchez, “The Texas Project for Migrant Children,” undated [likely September 1964], Box 34, Folder 14, GIS, NLB, 1–2; George I. Sánchez to William Bonilla, October 22, 1964, Box 34, Folder 14, GIS, NLB; George I. Sánchez to J. W. Edgar, October 23, 1964, Box 34, Folder 14, GIS, NLB; J. W. Edgar to George I. Sánchez, November 16, 1964, Box 34, Folder 14, GIS, NLB; William H. Evans to George I. Sánchez, November 18, 1964, Box 34, Folder 14, GIS, NLB; George I. Sánchez to William H. Evans, November 24, 1964, Box 34, Folder 14, GIS, NLB; George I. Sánchez to J. W. Edgar, November 19, 1964, Box 34, Folder 14, GIS, NLB; George I. Sánchez to Leroy Collins, November 19, 1964, Box 34, Folder 14, GIS, NLB.

69. George I. Sánchez to Henry David, March 6, 1961, Box 26, Folder 2, GIS, NLB; George I. Sánchez to John Tower, May 24, 1968, Box 63, Folder 15, GIS, NLB; Harold Howe II to Ralph Yarborough, May 31, 1968, Box 63, Folder 15, GIS, NLB; Howard A. Glickstein to Ralph W. Yarborough, June 10, 1968, Box 63, Folder 15, GIS, NLB; Ralph W. Yarborough to George I. Sánchez, June 17, 1968, Box 63, Folder 15, GIS, NLB; Ruby G. Martin to Ralph W. Yarborough, June 12, 1968, Box 63, Folder 15, GIS, NLB; George I. Sánchez to Ralph W. Yarborough, June 27, 1968, Box 63, Folder 15, GIS, NLB; George I. Sánchez to Ralph W. Yarborough, June 27, 1968, Box 63, Folder 15, GIS, NLB; George I. Sánchez to Rudy L. Ramos, June 10, 1964, Box 10, Folder 1, GIS, NLB [old system]; Hector P. Garcia to George I. Sánchez, June 12, 1968, Box 1, Folder 3, GIS, NLB [transitional system]; Hector P. Garcia to William Maples, June 12, 1968, Box 1, Folder 3, GIS, NLB [transitional system]; George I. Sánchez to Hector P. Garcia, June 17, 1968, Box 1, Folder 3, GIS, NLB [transitional system], quotations.

70. Barbara Beatty, “The Debate over the Young ‘Disadvantaged Child.’” For a few representative examples of these varied critiques, see Arthur R. Jensen, “How Much Can We Boost IQ and Scholastic Achievement?” Harvard Educational Review 39, no. 1 (Winter 1969): 1–123; Christopher Jencks, Inequality: A Reassessment of the Effect of Family and Schooling in America (New York: Basic Books, 1972); and Kenneth B. Clark, Dark Ghetto: Dilemmas of Social Power (New York: Harper & Row, 1965).

Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 114 Number 6, 2012, p. 1-34
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 16692, Date Accessed: 1/21/2022 10:04:32 PM

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  • Carlos Blanton
    Texas A & M University
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    CARLOS KEVIN BLANTON, associate professor of history, Texas A & M University, is the author of The Strange Career of Bilingual Education in Texas, 1836–1981 and other publications on civil rights, Mexican American history, and the history of bilingual education.
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