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The Impact of Brown on Latinos: A Study of Transformation of Policy Intentions


by M. Beatriz Arias — 2005

Since the landmark Brown v. Board of Education ruling, most of the literature on school desegregation has focused on the experiences of African American students or school districts in which remedies were fashioned for African American students. However, little is known about the efforts of other ethnic and racial groups who have suffered similar constitutional violations and who have participated in remedies designed to relieve racial isolation and improve equal educational opportunity. Latinos in the Southwest have a long history of participating in school desegregation efforts, but what has rarely been examined is how their experience is similar to or different from that of African Americans. And yet, I argue, that as we write the history of school desegregation policy in this country, it is important to determine if remedies designed to eliminate racial isolation and improve equal educational opportunity for African American students are appropriate mechanisms for achieving greater equality for Latinos and other ethnolinguistic minorities. This article describes the transformation of desegregation policy in San Jose, California (Vasquez v. San Jose Unified School District), where Latino students constituted the plaintiff class and became the principal participants in desegregation efforts. Using the transformation of intentions model developed by Hall (1995), I show how the remedies in San Jose changed as the actors, contexts, and situations changed. I argue that as long as Latinos were marginalized from participation in the policy process, desegregation remedies were implemented that ignored the particular cultural and linguistic needs of Latino students. As Latinos became leaders in the community and participants in the policy-making process, remedies began to be designed and implemented that specifically addressed linguistic and cultural barriers to educational equity. The transformation of desegregation policy in San Jose provides an opportunity to understand how the legacy of Brown has impacted Latino students.


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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 107 Number 9, 2005, p. 1974-1998
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 12151, Date Accessed: 10/23/2017 2:50:39 PM

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About the Author
  • M. Beatriz Arias
    Arizona State University
    E-mail Author
    M. BEATRIZ ARIAS, Ph.D. is Associate Professor of Curriculum and Instruction in the College of Education at Arizona State University. She served as the Court Appointed Monitor in the San Jose School Desegregation Case between 1986 and 2003 and has participated extensively in monitoring school districts under court order. Her research interests focus on educational policy for Latinos and the preparation of teachers for English Language Learners. Her recent publications include ‘‘Adolescent immigrant students in U.S. schools: Issues of cultural pluralism, successful school set- tings, and intergroup relations’’ in Lessons in Integration: Realizing the promise of racial diversity in America’s public schools (in press, University of Virginia). Dr. Arias provides an overview of school desegregation outcomes for Latino students in her forthcoming book: Language, Equity and Schooling in the Southwest: Three case studies.
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